What Does a Divorce Attorney Do?

By J.S. Nogara

A divorce attorney is an individual who represents his client in a divorce action in court. In providing this representation, the divorce attorney handles various tasks. This article discusses the role of the divorce attorney and describes the different functions a divorce attorney performs.

Qualifications of a Divorce Attorney

Generally, an attorney who provides legal services pertaining to a divorce has expertise in this realm. Such experience may be acquired through training, specialized course work and hands-on experience. A divorce attorney possesses a law degree and is licensed as an attorney by the jurisdiction in which the attorney practices.

Preliminary Investigation By a Divorce Attorney

At the outset, a divorce attorney will meet with an individual in order to discuss the facts and details of a potential divorce case. The divorce attorney will gather information and assess the likelihood of achieving the client's goal. In addition, the divorce attorney will determine whether there are valid grounds for divorce. Every jurisdiction has different laws specifying the grounds for divorce, so this will depend upon the state in which the divorce is sought. Moreover, the divorce attorney will provide an outline of the divorce procedure and specify any particular responsibilities of the client.

Commencement of a Divorce by a Divorce Attorney

Once the client seeks to pursue a divorce, the divorce attorney will file a summons and a complaint in the appropriate court. The summons and complaint are legal documents which advise the person against whom a divorce is sought the basis for the divorce. These documents give notice of the impending divorce. Once the documents have been received by the individual against whom a divorce is sought, that individual can file a response answering the claims, presenting any defenses to the claims and providing any of her own claims against her spouse.

The Role of the Divorce Attorney in Contested and Non-Contested Divorces

Generally, there are two ways a divorce action may proceed after the filing of the summons and complaint and the responsive motion. The divorce may be contested (where one of the parties does not agree to the divorce claims) or the divorce may be uncontested (which means the parties agree to the divorce). In a contested divorce, there may be a trial or a hearing, while an uncontested divorce usually does not involve any judicial involvement, but rather involves settlement discussion. In either instance, the divorce attorney will represent the client.

The Role of the Divorce Attorney in the Settlement of Divorce

If the spouses can resolve their affairs, the divorce attorney will gather financial and personal information pertaining to the spouses, and may resolve any matters and disputes regarding the division of assets, child custody issues, child support matters and spousal support. A settlement agreement is drafted by the divorce attorney to outline the rights and responsibilities of each spouse. If the spouses do not agree, a trial or hearing will occur, and the divorce attorney provides representation at the trial or hearing.

About the Author

J.S. Nogara began writing in 2000, publishing in legal texts, newspapers, newsletters and on various websites. Her credits include updating "New York Practice Guides: Negligence." She is a licensed attorney admitted to the New York State courts and the Federal Court, Southern District in New York. She has a B.S. from the University of Connecticut, a J.D. and an LL.M. degree.