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Breaking Down the Role of a Divorce Paralegal: Duties, Pathways, and Opportunities

Published on: Jun 20, 2024

Divorce paralegals play an important role in divorce and other family-law-related matters. They are not only responsible for supporting a family law attorney but also for walking hand in hand with the client throughout this difficult time. 

Our article below provides more insight if you are considering working as a divorce paralegal. It will cover the duties of divorce paralegals, a day in the life, an overview of salary expectations, and our tips for getting your foot in the door and securing a position in this field.

An Introduction to the Role and Responsibilities

Although paralegals cannot provide clients with legal advice during a divorce, they can still offer assistance. Divorce paralegals help clients prepare divorce forms like child support and alimony orders and file them with the court. Depending on the size of the law firm, a divorce paralegal may have other responsibilities.

Conducting Research and Case Preparation

Paralegals have the important role of conducting thorough research and gathering all the necessary information for legal cases. They help prepare various legal documents, including settlement agreements, divorce petitions, and parenting plans. It is their responsibility to help ensure that all documents adhere to state laws and court regulations, especially those involving legal custody of children or the division of assets. They may also assemble discovery packages for separation and divorce cases.


Depending on the firm, divorce paralegals may be responsible for conducting investigations to gather information relevant to the case. These legal professionals may investigate the parties' assets, liabilities, and income sources.

Managing Files

Paralegals assist divorce attorneys by managing and organizing case files. They ensure that all relevant documents and information are easily accessible to the attorney and often handle correspondence with the parties involved in the case. They are responsible for scheduling court appearances, divorce mediations, and other events related to the case.

Communication with Clients

Divorce paralegals interact with clients on divorce proceedings and family law issues. They gather information from clients, prepare them for court proceedings, and keep them informed of case progress. If there are witnesses or other parties involved, paralegals contact them as well and collect their information for the attorney.

Preparing for Trial

Paralegals assist attorneys with trial preparation by organizing relevant materials such as exhibits and witness lists. They may also have to attend trials and support the divorce attorney handling the legal matter. These legal professionals can also help with child and spousal support hearings.

Common Employers

Divorce paralegals work in various legal institutions, such as legal aid societies, law firms, and non-profit organizations that handle domestic matters. However, the responsibilities of this position usually differ depending on the employer. 

In large law firms, divorce paralegals may have to work with multiple clients and handle different tasks for their lawyers, such as preparing for trial or facilitating communication between witnesses and the court. They may also provide comprehensive legal support to divorce lawyers and guidance to clients going through a divorce, fighting for child custody, or other family issues. 

On the other hand, a divorce paralegal working for a smaller firm may handle a narrower range of legal tasks and take on additional administrative responsibilities. These include preparing divorce-related documents, staying in touch with clients to provide case updates, and transcribing notes for an attorney following client meetings.

A Day in the Life of a Divorce Paralegal

Divorce paralegals are critical in divorce and family law cases and handle various tasks. Their days will often vary depending on the type of case they are working on and the status of the case. For instance, divorce paralegals often spend a part of their day drafting documents, filing pleadings, assisting with divorce paperwork, helping attorneys prepare a divorce case for court, and researching pertinent issues related to divorce or family law. These legal professionals may also manage a lawyer's calendar, schedule a divorce mediation, or assist with a marital settlement agreement. 

Outside of their daily tasks, these paralegals may have to research and obtain relevant information on cases that can help prepare divorce petitions, parenting plans, and settlement agreements. They will also have to ensure that these documents comply with the laws. Depending on the case, a divorce paralegal may also be responsible for conducting investigations related to a family or divorce case, such as investigating the liabilities of the parties, the spouses’s assets, and other income sources the parties have. 

Finally, a divorce paralegal may need to assist an attorney with trial preparation, which can include organizing and preparing exhibits, preparing witness lists, and attending the trial to support the lawyer handling the case. 

Common Educational Options

While there is no nationally standardized requirement for paralegal education, employers may expect those seeking employment as divorce paralegals to have completed some form of paralegal education program. Many divorce paralegals possess at least an associate degree, while others hold a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies, legal studies, or a related field. In addition, many of these programs offer courses in family law. For instance, Southern Illinois University’s bachelor's degree program in paralegal studies offers classes in family law, as does the University of Cincinnati’s bachelor's degree program in paralegal studies.

Depending on their objectives and the employer they wish to work for, some paralegals may also choose to earn a certification from organizations such as NALA, The Paralegal Association, The National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA), or other certifying bodies. Obtaining a certification shows that a paralegal has a thorough understanding of laws, legal principles, and regulations, which can give them an advantage over other applicants in the job market. However, before pursuing one of these educational pathways, individuals must evaluate these programs to decide which option is better. We also recommended that you look for programs that strongly emphasize family law, hands-on learning experiences, and internships.

Consider further education options, such as a Family Law Course by Barbri, which provides an overview of divorce law. You’ll review aspects of divorce like uncontested divorce, contested divorce, collaborative divorce,  alimony, property division, and custody.

Challenges and Opportunities

Working as a divorce paralegal is an exciting and fulfilling career, but it comes with common challenges that should be understood. For instance, divorce paralegals have to deal with complex legal disputes, emotionally charged situations, and challenging personal issues that can be taxing. 

Divorce and family law have much to offer despite these challenges. Supporting clients in even the most challenging cases can be incredibly rewarding. Moreover, this type of law remains a vital legal specialty that covers issues that are core to our values and culture. As a result, there are often numerous career development opportunities in this field, including paralegals advancing to senior paralegal roles, specializing in areas such as international custody law or high-asset divorce, or even transitioning to paralegal education and training roles.

Market Insights and Salary Expectations

The salary of a paralegal in the United States can range between $60,640 and $122,050 per year, depending on the state, the job market, and the type of law the paralegal practices. For instance, family law paralegals in the United States can make between $71,479 and $88,836. 

Some of the highest-paying cities for family law paralegals in the United States include:

  • Los Angeles, California, $121,934 per year

  • Elk Grove, California, $119,606 per year

  • San Diego, California, $113,839 per year

  • Miami, Florida, $112,910 per year

  • Denver, Colorado, $94,506 per year

  • Houston, Texas, $84,067 per year 

  • Tampa, Florida, $83,678 per year 

  • Santa Ana, California, $62,658 per year

  • Minnetonka, Minnesota $58,854 per year

Self-Assessment and Career Suitability

Divorce paralegals are crucial in law firms that handle sensitive domestic issues and cases. Individuals who aspire to pursue this career must evaluate their strengths, level of interest in family law, and ability to handle delicate situations before pursuing this career path.

Moreover, divorce paralegals must possess strong interpersonal skills, especially given the personal issues these legal professionals deal with. As a result, they need to be able to remain calm under pressure and relate to individuals who may be emotionally vulnerable. Strong communication, empathy, and stress management skills are also necessary due to the emotional nature of these cases.

Additional Resources

To learn more about the role of a divorce paralegal, their specific job duties, and how to get started in this career, consider the following resources to obtain the information you need: 

Networking, attending conferences, and watching webinars focusing on family law and divorce can also provide individuals with opportunities to advance in their profession. Professional paralegal associations can assist members by facilitating professional development and providing further training opportunities. These resources also help paralegals develop their skills and stay up-to-date in the workforce.

Get Started on Your Future Career

Divorce paralegals play a significant role in ensuring positive outcomes for their clients. These legal professionals are responsible for helping clients through emotional and often challenging matters. Paralegals also provide much-needed support and understanding throughout the legal proceedings, which helps build trust between clients and their law firms. Their attention to detail, time management skills, and organizational abilities also ensure that cases move forward quickly and efficiently, leading to clients who are better prepared to start a new chapter in their lives. 

However, while the position of a divorce paralegal is gratifying, individuals who want to pursue it should understand this role and obtain the proper education, gain experience, and network within the legal community.

About the Authors

Written by:

Kasia Nelson, Esq.

Kasia Nelson is a licensed attorney and skilled legal content writer with years of experience. With a background in corporate immigration law, she is well-versed in the intricacies of producing legally accurate and well-researched work. 


  • Michigan State University, B.S.

  • Western Michigan University – Cooley Law School, J.D.

Law Licensures

  • Michigan

Kasia Nelson

Kasia Nelson, Esq.


Education: Western Michigan University – Cooley Law School, J.D.

Knowledge: Corporate Immigration Law

Reviewed by:

Ryan P. Duffy, Esq.

Ryan P. Duffy is an attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey, North Carolina, and South Carolina. His practice focuses primarily on Estate Planning, Personal Injury, and Business law. 

Law Licensures

  • New Jersey

  • Pennsylvania (inactive)

  • South Carolina

  • North Carolina

Ryan Duffy

Ryan P. Duffy, Esq.

Editorial Lead

Education: Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, J.D.

Knowledge: Estate Planning