2013 Legal Elite profile: Family Law/Domestic Relations
Mary Burkey Owens
Owen & Owens PLC
Title: Founding partner
Other legal specialties: Collaborative law, mediation and real estate law
Education: Virginia Tech, bachelor’s degree; University of Richmond, law degree
Hobbies or pastimes: Traveling, hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, reading
First job as a lawyer: Working with a sole practitioner, Mac Chenault.
Fan of: Virginia Tech Hokies, University of Richmond Spiders
Favorite vacation spot: Italy or any beach
Recently read books: “A Land More Kind Than Home” by Wiley Cash and “The Round House” by Louise Erdrich
Career mentors: “John G. ‘Chip’ Dicks III, who taught me the legal and business sides of practicing law and the Hon. Ernest P. Gates, who demonstrated how to blend faith, kindness and toughness.”
What trends are you seeing in family law?
“In the last few years, I have found that clients are more willing to engage mental health professionals to assist them with developing a parenting plan rather than taking the custody and visitation matters to the court for a decision. I believe that utilizing a mental health expert can assist the parents with making more informed decisions about their child’s best interests, which certainly benefits the child moving forward. Utilizing a mental health professional can also diffuse some of the anger that parents have with each other, which also leads to a better future for the family as a whole.”
You have been trained as a collaborative lawyer. What role does a collaborative lawyer play in family law?
“As a collaboratively trained attorney, I have an even greater ability to help couples who are dissolving their marriage or relationship in a respectful and dignified manner. In a collaborative case, we assemble a team of professionals in the legal, mental health and financial fields to assist the couple with the dissolution of their union. The collaborative practice is truly different from litigation; it provides a couple with the opportunity to be heard, create their own resolution and honor one another for the contributions the other has made during their union as a parent, spouse or partner.”