How to Become a Family Law Paralegal

If you are interested in family law, you should consider becoming a family-law paralegal.

You’ll work with families and an attorney to address various legal situations.

Family Law Paralegal

It allows you to work closely with clients, and help them through tough times.

What Is a Family Law Paralegal?

A paralegal works under the supervision of an attorney.

They perform many legal duties but aren’t allowed to practice law themselves.

A family law paralegal will work with an attorney or law firm that specializes in family law.

You may work on different types of cases, including:

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  • Divorce/separation/annulment
  • Spousal support or alimony
  • Custody and parental rights and obligations
  • Adoptions
  • Child protective services
  • Restraining orders

Much of your time will be spent communicating with clients.

This includes explaining the legal process, conducting interviews, and giving the client updates about the case.

Other duties include:

  • Preparing motions, pleadings, judgments, documents, and other correspondence
  • Legal research
  • Maintaining an attorney’s schedule and scheduling appointments
  • Organizing and maintaining case files
  • Preparing trial notebooks and assistance during the trial
  • Reviewing and summarizing discovery packages
  • Interviewing witnesses or family members of the client
  • Conducting financial research on one or both parties

Steps to Become a Family Law Paralegal

There are a few paths to becoming a family law paralegal because there are no legal requirements to be a paralegal.

However, the most common path starts with a paralegal training program.

Step 1. Paralegal Education

When choosing a paralegal education program, it’s a good idea to choose a program that is ABA-approved.

You can choose a program that provides you with a certificate, diploma, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree.

A general paralegal program is a great starting point and will include coursework on family law.

You can also choose a program that allows you to specialize in learning family law paralegal duties.

Step 2. Consider Internship or Employment

If you don’t have a paralegal education, you may be able to find an internship or employment to learn on the job.

If you’ve completed a paralegal program, an internship or job can allow you to gain valuable real-world experience.

Step 3. Get Certified

Certification isn’t required by law, but many employers prefer or require you to be a certified paralegal.

Becoming certified can provide you with better job prospects and may allow you to find higher-paying work as a family law paralegal.

Step 4. Get Specialized Training in Family Law

All paralegal programs offer some coverage of family law.

However, you can take specialized courses to learn more about how to be a family law paralegal. This can help you in your career.

Step 5. Maintain Certification

Once you are certified, you’ll need to maintain your certification.

This typically includes continuing education and paying a fee when renewing your certification.

Licensing Requirements to Become a Family Law Paralegal

Licensing isn’t required to be a family law paralegal.

However, most employers will require you to be certified as a paralegal.

NALA

NALA, or National Association of Legal Assistants, is the leading paralegal organization.

To qualify for certification, you’ll need to meet one of the requirements.

If you are enrolled in or completed an approved training program, you may apply for certification.

If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field, one year of experience is required.

You’ll also need 15 hours of paralegal courses.

If you have only a high school diploma, you are required to have 5 years of experience as a paralegal.

You will need 20 hours of continuing education credits as well.

Once you are qualified, you’ll apply with a fee.

You’ll schedule a time to take the certification exams.

You’ll take a knowledge exam and a skills exam.

You must pass both components to be certified.

Once you are certified, you can use the CP (certified paralegal) credential.

National Federation of Paralegal Associations

The National Federation of Paralegal Associations, or NFPA, is the oldest paralegal organization in the U.S.

They also offer paralegal certification.

If you are beginning your career as a paralegal, you’ll take the Paralegal Core Competency Exam or PCCE.

If you have an associate or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies or legal studies, you are eligible for certification.

This is the oldest paralegal organization in the U.S.

Paralegals beginning their careers will take the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam or PCCE.

If you have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree plus a paralegal certificate, you are eligible.

You’ll apply along with a fee of $300 to $350.

If you pass the certification exam, you’ll be a Certified Registered Paralegal or CRP.

Online Training Programs

Online training programs can allow you to train to be a family law paralegal in the comfort of your own home.

Depending on the program, you may spend a few months to 2 years completing the program.

Center for Legal Studies

The Center for Legal Studies offers a few educational options.

If you have no paralegal education, you should choose the Core Paralegal plus Family Law Program.

You’ll take three courses during this program.

These are Paralegal 1, Paralegal 2, and Family Law.

Each course is 7 weeks long, for a total of 21 weeks of study.

You’ll receive a certificate for Paralegal Studies, and one for Family Law after completing the course.

You can also earn an Advanced Paralegal Certificate.

To earn this certificate, you’ll need to complete Paralegal 1 and 2, a similar program, or have sufficient experience.

Then, you’ll take 6 advanced or specialization courses in one year.

Once you’ve completed 6 courses, you will get your Advanced Paralegal certificate.

Bryant and Stratton College

Bryant and Stratton College offers a Domestic Law Paralegal Certificate program.

You’ll learn the basics of being a paralegal, with a concentration on Family Law.

Courses include Legal Research and Writing 1 and 2, Introduction to Legal Studies, and Law Office Management and Technology.

Center for Advanced Legal Studies

Center for Advanced Legal Studies

The Center for Advanced Legal Studies offers three paralegal programs.

You can earn a certificate, Associate, or Bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies.

You may choose to start by earning a certificate, and then continue to your associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

The certificate course is also a great choice if you already have a degree in another field.

The program focuses on general paralegal education, but you will complete a course in family law.

It lays the foundation to become a family law paralegal.  Programs can be completed on campus or online.

Courses include Legal Research and Writing, Introduction to Law and Ethics, Criminal Law and Procedure, and Civil Procedure.

Salary

The average salary for a family law paralegal in the U.S. is $79,757.

Salaries typically range from $71,657 to $89,057.

How much you can earn will depend on where you choose to work, your experience, education, and certification.

Salary Information by State

State Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Alabama3,770$51,130$24.58$74,640$31,200
Alaska740$63,580$30.57$94,120$43,110
Arizona7,110$61,300$29.47$84,100$35,310
Arkansas2,160- NA -- NA -- NA -- NA -
California37,270$76,080$36.58$109,340$46,730
Colorado5,750$68,920$33.13$99,060$45,510
Connecticut4,860$67,310$32.36$91,590$46,350
Delaware1,760$68,340$32.86$99,100$41,350
District of Columbia5,580$91,880$44.17$124,650$56,780
Florida36,060$56,650$27.24$78,440$37,370
Georgia12,510$57,890$27.83$87,660$29,820
Hawaii1,150$59,690$28.70$82,310$42,270
Idaho1,500$49,930$24.00$66,940$27,100
Illinois12,370$63,590$30.57$97,100$38,060
Indiana5,590$54,080$26.00$81,840$34,820
Iowa2,570$58,310$28.04$79,260$38,260
Kansas2,680$53,440$25.69$79,630$34,710
Kentucky2,800$51,020$24.53$73,780$35,620
Louisiana5,250$52,760$25.36$75,100$35,380
Maine940$56,110$26.97$71,460$46,550
Maryland7,040$62,880$30.23$88,670$39,250
Massachusetts7,490$71,670$34.46$103,000$40,760
Michigan7,440$58,400$28.08$81,560$38,500
Minnesota6,140$63,450$30.51$94,910$39,790
Mississippi1,950$46,060$22.15$63,840$31,990
Missouri5,930$58,040$27.91$79,830$36,920
Montana1,320$58,190$27.98$79,520$41,900
Nebraska1,720$56,510$27.17$79,600$38,880
Nevada3,190$60,860$29.26$89,690$41,600
New Hampshire1,310$56,530$27.18$81,100$37,890
New Jersey9,580$65,570$31.52$96,480$38,650
New Mexico1,850$51,420$24.72$70,010$37,660
New York30,020$69,860$33.59$103,890$45,720
North Carolina12,290$56,120$26.98$81,310$35,920
North Dakota580$54,090$26.00$75,500$39,360
Ohio8,200$55,320$26.60$78,490$36,700
Oklahoma2,840$51,430$24.73$74,590$34,080
Oregon4,790$66,250$31.85$86,420$46,090
Pennsylvania11,390$64,730$31.12$92,560$39,460
Rhode Island1,320- NA -- NA -- NA -- NA -
South Carolina6,150$52,060$25.03$65,960$37,300
South Dakota500$55,290$26.58$68,120$44,300
Tennessee4,740$54,290$26.10$82,600$34,330
Texas24,600$59,970$28.83$94,540$36,300
Utah4,080$56,040$26.94$78,830$35,660
Vermont640$61,210$29.43$74,930$48,020
Virginia10,470$60,570$29.12$83,650$35,530
Washington8,020$72,590$34.90$106,510$47,960
West Virginia1,990$50,380$24.22$77,230$28,760
Wisconsin4,840$54,880$26.39$78,420$37,460
Wyoming400$52,500$25.24$65,150$36,110
Guam80$40,810$19.62$55,930$29,450
Puerto Rico710$45,220$21.74$65,670$30,560
Virgin Islands70$54,500$26.20$70,620$43,880

Annual Average Salary: Top 10 States

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $91,880.

These are the top 10 earning states in the field:

  • District of Columbia - $91,880
  • California - $76,080
  • Washington - $72,590
  • Massachusetts - $71,670
  • New York - $69,860
  • Colorado - $68,920
  • Delaware - $68,340
  • Connecticut - $67,310
  • Oregon - $66,250
  • New Jersey - $65,570
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Paralegals and Legal Assistants, OCC Code 23-2011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

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