Family & Domestic Relations Law

By Chris Byrne
Revised September 2014

wedding cake

Books, Guides, and Directories

Lexis: Family Law Pratitioners' Listings from Martindale-Hubbell(MARHUB;MHFAM)

Westlaw: West's Legal Directory - Family Law Listings(WLD-FAM)

ABA Directory of Children's Law Programs. An online directory containing listings of children's law projects including information about areas of representation, availability of manuals and literature, training sessions, and opportunities for volunteers. Organized alphabetically by state with separate links for children's law centers, children's legal clinics, and children's resource centers.

31st Annual Family Law: Challenging Issues in Today's Family Law Practice. Charlottesville, Va: Virginia Law Foundation, 2012.
KFV2494 .A75 F3 2012

101+ Practical Solutions for the Family Lawyer: Sensible Answers to Common Problems. 3rd ed. Chicago, Ill: ABA, 2009.
KF505 A2 A15 2009

How to Build and Manage a Family Law Practice, Mark A. Chinn, Chicago, Ill: American Bar Association, Section of Law Practice Management, 2006.

Divorce Lawyers at Work : Varieties of Professionalism in Practice, Lynn M. Mather, Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001.
KF535 .M38 2001

The Family Lawyer's Guide to Building Successful Client Relationships, Sanford M. Portnoy, Chicago, Ill: Section of Family Law, ABA, 2000.
KF311 .P67 2000

Divorces From Hell, Jacqueline D. Stanley, Clearwater, Fla: Spinx Pub., 1995.
KF535 .Z9 S73 1995

The Divorce Lawyers: The People and Stories Behind Ten Dramatic Cases, Emily Couric, New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
KF535 C68 1992
This book tells about true divorce stories. The attorneys chosen to share their cases in the book are among the most prominent in the area. It also provides a variety of experiences and viewpoints expressed by the clients involved in the cases.

Selected Journal Articles

Balbi, Loni L. "Secrets Revealed: Tips on Becoming a Better Family Law Attorney." 26 American Journal of Family Law 176 (Fall 2012).

The second part of a two-part article is about practical advice: the stuff they do not teach in law school. It is based on years of gathering tips from Family Law experts all over the world. These ideas come from some of the best and most successful family law attorneys. This part discusses technology, drafting, health and finances.

Balbi, Loni L. "Forum: Tips on Becoming a Better Family Law Attorney." 26 American Journal of Family Law 115 (Summer 2012).

The first part of a two-part article is about practical advice: the stuff they do not teach in law school. It is based on years of gathering tips from Family Law experts all over the world. These ideas come from some of the best and most successful family law attorneys. This part discusses client relations and litigation.

Fines, Barbara Glesner. "Fifty Years of Family Law Practice--The Evolving Role of the Family Law Attorney." 24 Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 391 (Summer 2012).

Tarascio, Billy. "A New Breed of Practitioner." 37 Law Practice 47 (July-August 2011).

This article is an interview with an Oregon family law attorney whose firm focuses upon the use of limited-scope legal services at reduced rates to provide legal services for those clients who cannot afford the standard attorney rate.

Forrest, Mosten S. "Lawyer as Peacemaker: Building a Successful Law Practice Without Ever Going to Court." 43 Family Law Quarterly 489 (Fall 2009).

This article chronicles one lawyer's transition from a litigation based family law practice to a mediation based one. 

Thornton, Laura A. "Ten Family Law Dos and Don'ts." 58 Virginia Lawyer 44 (June-July 2009).

Zuethen, Carolyn. "Stress in Practicing Law and How to Minimize It from the Perspective of a Family Law Practitioner." 21 Utah Bar Journal 26 (January-February 2008).

Libby, Eileen. "Putting a Kinder Face on Litigation." 94 ABA Journal 22 (January 2008).

Lawson, Beth Ann. "A Basic Divorce Practice Primer for New Attorneys: Avoiding Some Early Pitfalls." 33 VBA News Journal 16 (May-June 2007).

Fauss, Kimberly P. et al. "Collaborative Practice: Solving Family Disputes Outside of Court." 55 Virginia Lawyer 36 (February 2007).

Kessler, Randall M. "Family Law Practice Management: Building and Running a Mid- to Large-Size Family Law Firm." 20 American Journal of Family Law 253 (Winter 2007).

Bala, Nicholas. "There Are Some Elephants in the Room: Being Realistic about Law Students, Law Schools, and the Legal Profession when Thinking about Family Law Education." 44 Family Court Review 577 (October 2006).

Hedeen, Timothy and Peter Salem. "What Should Family Lawyers Know? Results of a Survey of Practitioners and Students." 44 Family Court Review 601 (October 2006).

Carter, Sherrie Bourg. "When the Enemy Lies Within: Risk for Professional Burnout among Family Lawyers." 20 American Journal of Family Law 160 (Fall 2006).

Fletcher, Cheryl A. et al. "Collaborative Practice: Divorce Without Litigation." 85 Michigan Bar Journal 25 (February 2006).

Ventrell, Marvin. "The Practice of Law for Children." 66 Montana Law Review 1 (Winter 2005).


The Library has the following journals which emphasize family and domestic relations law. A person interested in a career in family law should look at some of these journals in order to develop a general awareness of current issues in the field. Practicing attorneys, however, must read these in order to keep up with current development in the law.

  1. Canadian Journal of Family Law
    Hein Online: PDF Articles
    Westlaw: CANJFL
  2. Children's Legal Rights Journal
    Hein Online: PDF Articles
  3. Family Advocate
    Hein Online: PDF Articles
    Westlaw: FAMADVO
    Lexis: ABA;FAMADV
  4. Family Law Quarterly
    Hein Online: PDF Articles
    Westlaw: FAMLQ
    Lexis: ABA;FAMQTR
  5. Family Law Reporter(weekly looseleaf service)
    BNA: FLR Online
    Westlaw: FAMLR
    Lexis: BNA;BNAFLR
  6. Journal of The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
    Westlaw: JAMAML
  7. University of La Verne Law Review (Continues the Journal of Juvenile Law)
    Hein Online: PDF Articles
    Westlaw: ULVLR
  8. Juvenile & Family Court Journal
    Hein Online: PDF Articles
    Lexis: LAWREV;JFCJ


The following organizations are either active or maintain an interest in family law and domestic relations. They offer membership general information and possible employment opportunities.

A. Organizations Concerned with Family Law in General

American Bar Association
Section of Family Law
321 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 988-5145; Fax (312) 988-6800
The largest bar association for family law practitioners in the country, the Section holds regular meetings and continuing legal education seminars for family law attorneys throughout the year. It issues two journals, The Family Law Quarterly and Family Advocate (quarterly), and also publishes books of interest.

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML)
150 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2040
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 263-6477; Fax (312) 263-7682
An association of certified attorneys specializing in matrimonial and family law. It seeks to encourage the study, improve the practice, elevate the standards, and advance the cause of matrimonial law in an effort to preserve the family and society. It conducts institutes and sponsors advanced continuing legal education program. Publication: Journal of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (annually).

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
6525 Grand Teton Plaza
Madison, WI 53719
(608) 664-3750; Fax (608) 664-3751
An association of judges, counselors, family court personnel, and attorneys concerned with the resolution of disputes affecting children. Works to develop and improve the practice of mediation and counseling as a component to judicial procedures. Conducts research and technical training programs. Publication: Family and Conciliation Courts Review, quarterly.

B. Organizations Focused on Children and Youth Rights

ABA Center on Children and the Law
740 - 15th Street NW
Washington,DC 20005
(800) 285-2221 or (202) 662-1720; Fax (202) 662-1755
Under the Young Lawyers Division of the ABA, the Center sponsors multi-disciplinary conferences for child advocates. It employs attorneys and staff to work on research, writing and training in the area of children's law. It publishes books of interest to attorneys, and issues a monthly journal ABA Child Law Practice.

The National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC)
13123 E. 16th Avenue, B390
Aurora, Co. 80045
A leading multi disciplinary membership organization, the NACC devotes itself solely to skills-building for lawyers working on behalf of children. It publishes books on child advocacy, puts out a quarterly The Guardian, and holds annual conferences.

Legal Services for Children
1254 Market Street, Third Floor, San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 863-3762; Fax (415) 863-7708
The first nonprofit law firm for children and youth in the country. LSAC provides free legal and social services to children under 18 years old in the San Francisco Bay area.

Children's Defense Fund (CDF)
25 E. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
The Fund offers systematic, long-range advocacy on behalf of children and teenagers. Engaged in public education, monitoring of federal agencies, litigation, legislative drafting and testimony, enforcement of civil rights law, advocacy of child access to existing programs and services, and creation of new programs. Publishes a monthly newsletter, CDF Reports.

National Center for Youth Law (NCYL)
405 14th Street, 15th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612-2701
(510) 835-8098; Fax (510) 835-8099
NCYL provides assistance to other child advocates nationwide, conducts trainings, publishes and does class action litigation intended to benefit large numbers of poor children. Publishes the quarterly Youth Law News.

C. Organizations in Virginia

Virginia Bar Association
701 E. Franklin Street, Suite 1120
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 644-0041; Fax (804) 644-0052
The Virginia Bar Association is is a voluntary, statewide professional organization of more than 5,500 lawyer and judicial members. The VBA invites voluntary membership from all licensed Virginia lawyers. Lawyers in good standing of the Bar in another state or the District of Columbia are eligible for membership. The VBA has a domestic relations section.

Virginia State Bar
707 E. Main Street, Suite 1500
Richmond, VA 23219-2800
(804) 775-0500; Fax (804) 775-0501
The Virginia State Bar, the official agency regulating the legal profession in Virginia, has a Family Law Section.

Commission on the Needs of Children
Virginia Bar Association
Margaret I. Bacigal, Chair
University of Richmond School of Law
Richmond, VA 23225
Phone: 804-289-8950
The Commission is an interdisciplinary body within the Bar Association, interested in family law issues affecting children. It helps to educate lawyers, judges, physicians and the public on the needs of children, and pushes law reform in this area. It has been an advocate of a state wide system of family courts.

Continuing Legal Education
Virginia Law Foundation
105 Whitehead Rd.
Charlottesville, VA 22901
(800) 979-8253; Fax: (434) 979-5644
The Committee on Continuing Legal Education of the Virginia Law Foundation and the Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar co-sponsor two workshops on family law each year: Annual Family Law Seminar and Annual Advanced Family Law Seminar publish the proceedings and materials deriving from these workshops.

Other organizations may be found using:
Encyclopedia of Associations.  Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1961-
Covers more than 100,000 nonprofit membership associations worldwide.  Available on Lexis.

Photo:  Associated Press