Many people confuse domestic relations lawyers, family law lawyers, and divorce lawyers with each other. By the definitions of their job, they are all the same but in truth, it’s more complicated than that.

Divorce falls under family law, though family law itself is not limited to divorce. Family law comprises the custody of the child/children of the divorcees, their care, separating the parents, assets and estate allocation, visitation for family members like grandparents, restraining orders if applicable, establishing paternity or guardianship, and also terminating parental rights which leads to attorneys handling the adoption process as well.

Divorce, on the other hand, deals simply with ending marriages.

However, this does not mean that a divorce lawyer can’t be a domestic relations lawyer. In fact, many people who title themselves as ‘divorce lawyers’ are fully capable of handling family law cases. Now you might ask why do they have different titles if they all mean the same thing? We’ll answer that question in detail in the article below.

Why the confusion?

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Firstly, you must know all lawyers have different work methods and unique approaches to a case. Many attorneys and law firms believe that family law cases should be straightforward and follow a specific pattern. However, according to Anderson & Graham, some specific cases need you to stray away from this pattern and be creative in solving cases.

This uniqueness in the work method can make you understand a lawyer’s psyche and why they insist on having specific titles for the same thing.

Whatever we read and hear has an impact on us. Thus, the terms that we use in our everyday life leaves an unconscious impression on our mind.

Imagine this, you go to a lawyer, and before entering you take a look at their office board. It states ‘X, Divorce attorney’. The term divorce attorney automatically creates an impression on your mind about the lawyer that he will be strict, professional, and hard going.

On the other hand, if you were to read ‘X, Family law lawyer’ the impression you may have of the lawyer would be kind, friendly, and helpful. While subtle things like these may not seem significant at first glance, they are vital points that a lawyer implements to make his impression.

These impressions indicate the lawyer’s method and approach to the cases he works on. People who call themselves divorce attorneys are often more sophisticated, clever, and efficient than those who call themselves ‘family law lawyers who tend to be more genial, kind, and professional.

As you can see, just a simple switching of terms can dramatically influence the image you have of your lawyer. We should probably not look into these terms too much but they do provide ideas about the type of lawyer who will handle your case for you.

The difference of work between domestic relation lawyers and divorce lawyers.

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Another important factor that makes lawyers have different titles is their specialization. Lawyers who call themselves divorce lawyers are specialized in divorce cases and their workload consists of a high volume of such cases. Even if divorce lawyers can handle adoption and guardianships, many times they choose not to and instead focus their work on divorce or related cases specifically.

On the contrary, family law lawyers love working extensively on cases that focus on domestic issues. This can range from cases that work on parental rights, to cases of estate and asset evaluation and their proper distribution.

There are very few family law lawyers who work on divorce cases that result in ending the marriage. Family law lawyers can be thought of as lawyers who like to work on fixing the families in any way they can after the divorce.

Basically, each lawyer specializes in his field and loves working in it. Divorce lawyers can handle divorces efficiently and professionally, and family law lawyers can handle matters from the aftermath of a divorce.

Thus, if you are looking for lawyers, you should find multiple lawyers that can help you. However, if you don’t have the liberty to do that then read on to understand what lawyer should you choose over the other.

Divorce lawyers vs. family law lawyers

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We heavily suggest hiring lawyers from both fields to help you in your case, as they will each offer unique service and advice. This will not only help your case but provide you the satisfaction that the case is in good hands and get you legal advice from experts.

However, we understand that not everyone can hire multiple lawyers to work on their case and have to stick with one. Depending on your circumstances, you may need a divorce lawyer more than a family law lawyer or vice versa.

Obviously, you should go to a divorce lawyer when you want to end your marriage. What you may not know is that divorce lawyers are known to be very efficient and strict. They will be with you all the way and on each step in your divorce guiding you on what to do and what not to do.

The thing is, some people go through an extremely emotional time during divorce and as such need a genial and kind presence in the court, helping them. Family law lawyers adopt this disposition for each client they take. If you want a comforting lawyer, then family law lawyers are your best bet.

Many courts offer you the option of proceeding with the divorce without an attorney. This way you can directly hire family law lawyers after the divorce and won’t need to hire divorce lawyers for the divorce, but we do suggest at least getting guidance from a divorce lawyer on how to proceed because they will be more than willing to help.


The terms divorce lawyer and domestic relations lawyer are often used interchangeably but they can mean quite different things when you look into it. We recommend that you identify and understand these differences and choose your lawyer wisely. We hope this article helped you in doing just that, and if it did, please consider following our website for regular updates as it will help us out immensely.