You may have wondered what the difference is between a “family law attorney” and a “divorce attorney.” Not really, although differences do exist, and often depend on the context in which the terms are discussed.
A divorce attorney is an attorney who handles divorce cases. Simple. Our firm, Utah Family Law, LC, for example, practices primarily in divorce and divorce-related matters.
A family law attorney may simply be a less controversial way of saying “divorce attorney,” or it may mean the attorney has diversified into other areas of law, including related family law matters like child custody, protective orders, termination of parental rights, or those practice areas indirectly related to divorce law, such as adoption, guardianship, juvenile court, and other matters related to families and children, but not exclusively pertaining to divorce.
Sometimes divorce attorneys identify themselves as family law attorneys to avoid controversy: I was at a church activity a while back, and my group was introducing ourselves and explaining what we do for a living. I was trying to decide whether I should say I was a family law attorney or a divorce attorney. It can be awkward for me or for others in some social settings if I introduce myself with, “I’m a divorce attorney!” (it’s also awkward saying that to missionaries, bishops, and the recently married). It’s often more socially acceptable to describe myself as a family law attorney which can include not only divorce, but more “favorable” areas of practice like adoption and guardianships.
So before you hire that “divorce” or “family law” attorney, it wouldn’t hurt to ask just what that attorney means by the words he or she uses to describe that attorney’s practice. Make sure you know that what you want is what that attorney offers and can do competently.