Seeing her clients come out on the other side happier is what makes everything worthwhile for family lawyer AllynMarie “Ali” Smedley.
“Seeing that change, seeing that the families will be OK—it’s fulfilling. I want that for people. I want them to come through on the other side better than they came to me,” Smedley says. “Divorce doesn’t have to be the end. It can be the start of something really great.”
Smedley, who has been practicing family law since 2006, opened her boutique family law firm Smedley Law Group in December 2019 on Cooper Street in Woodbury, although she was working at that location for several years prior.
“It’s gone through a bit of an evolution,” Smedley says, explaining that she was working without an associate or of counsel since July 2020 through January of this year. “What’s interesting is that we grew in terms of business every year.”
Smedley theorizes the COVID-19 pandemic had something to do with that, the lockdown helping some couples realize they weren’t meant to be together.
“Some relationships are fragile. They go along and it’s easy to go along until something like that happens, until you realize how unhappy you are or how much discontent there is,” Smedley says.
Alison B. Weinroth joined the firm as senior counsel in January, bringing with her more than 20 years of experience, which Smedley touts as only strengthening the firm’s capabilities.
“Everybody who is here now in terms of counsel are experienced,” Smedley says. “You either get me or you get her, so you’re getting top-level representation.”
The entire staff is on the same page as far as how to serve clients. According to Smedley, a lot of people come in with a preconceived notion of what they think is going to happen.
“What we do is kind of break through that and get them to understand from the beginning that in a divorce, in a motion, in a custody issue—there is no win, there is no lose. Everybody walks away with a mixture of both,” Smedley says. “We try to temper expectations.”
Family court is a court of equity, according to Smedley, and at its core is a dissolution of a business relationship. Taking the emotion out of it helps the case go more smoothly. And so Smedley guides her clients in taking charge of their own life, in getting them to think about what they want things to look like on the other side of their divorce.
“What do you want? You have a say in that. And people start considering possibilities they hadn’t considered before,” Smedley says.
This often includes divorces, which can include division of personal property, financial assets, physical property, spousal support, child custody, child support and more. The process can be lengthy, but the hope is to resolve cases without a trial and with as little involvement from the courts as possible. Settlements can be creative, according to Smedley, while a judge in a courtroom is bound by the law and therefore cannot allow as much room for creativity.
For those who aren’t married but have children, Smedley Law Group assists with any child-related issues that need to be resolved.
After that, it’s post judgment issues.
“That’s when somebody got divorced and needs to come in and have something enforced or an order changed,” Smedley says, and adds that this also applies to unmarried couples with children—after the first order, anything that changes is a modification or enforcement.
Smedley is in the less than 2% of lawyers in New Jersey certified by the state as a matrimonial law attorney, a designation used across all five certified practice areas that includes application acceptance and then passing an eight-hour written exam.
“It means I’m a highly qualified specialist in this field of law,” Smedley affirms.
“Something that tells me that I’ve done a good job and somebody is happy with the work I’ve done is when they come back,” she continues.
Smedley Law Group’s strong reputation is not just about Smedley, but about the entire team. Smedley, Weinroth, the paralegals, the law clerk, the office administrator—everyone is in it to help the clients.
“We’re very, very heavy on collaborative teamwork. We all work on empowering the clients, and we develop that relationship with them so they want to come back,” Smedley says. “Compliments I get are not just on my work, but on the whole team.”
As a child of divorce, Smedley is driven by wanting to improve upon that experience for others. She reminds her clients that their children are going to remember how their parents behaved.
“It’s very easy to get lost in, ‘I want to win. I want to be right. I want it my way,’” Smedley says. “But your kids are going to remember whether this was a painful experience for them.”
It’s not an easy process, but Smedley is ready to help her clients every step of the way.
Smedley Law Group
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 11.
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