Education & Credentials

Dawn Smith is the founder of Evolve Family Law where she practices exclusively in family law.  She is a graduate of North Caroline State University with a BA in business management. Dawn graduated magna cum laude from Georgia State University College of Law where she also served at Style Editor of the Georgia State Law Review. She is a member of the Atlanta Bar Association where she currently serves as Chair of the Family Law Section.  She is also a member of the DeKalb County Bar Association and the Family Law Section of the Georgia Bar.  Dawn serves on the Judicial Selection and Tenure Committee of the Atlanta Bar and is the Co-Chair of the Racial, Ethnicity and Religious Considerations in Family Law Committee of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.  She is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta, Founder of Cool Girls, Inc., served on the Board of the Greater Georgia Chapter of the Autism Society of America and was on the Advisory Board of Emmaus House.

Listen to Dawn in her podcast Untying the Knots - a resource dedicated to clients and other individuals in Georgia going through family law transition.

“I am a child of divorce and am myself divorced. I know that the divorce process is daunting and that parents are dealing with their most valuable treasure – their children. I do not take lightly the difficult position folks find themselves in and am honored to walk together with my clients as they attempt to craft creative solutions that work for their family."

- Dawn

Legal Background

Dawn began her career as a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Marvin H. Shoob and subsequently was appointed Special Administrative Master for the Court. She was later appointed Administrative Law Judge for the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings where she heard a wide variety of cases involving children and families.  She continued her work for families as Deputy Director of Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and just prior to founding this firm, she was a partner in one of Atlanta’s most prestigious family law firms.  

In addition to litigating on behalf of families, Dawn is certified as an arbitrator, mediates a wide variety of family law matters, frequently serves as Guardian ad Litem in Superior Courts throughout the state, and is appointed by the Judges of the Fulton County Superior Court Family Division as a Late Case Evaluator to assist parties in realistically evaluating cases prior to trial.  Dawn frequently presents in Georgia and across the country on family law-related matters, including on topics related to custody, the best interests of children, domestic litigation strategies, and mental health and substance abuse issues.  In addition, she is recognized as a leading advocate for the civil and educational rights of children with disabilities.

Honors & Awards

Dawn is one of 40 fellows of the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a highly respected organization comprised of the top family law practitioners across the country. Every year since 2018 she has been named to the Super Lawyers® list of Top 50 Women in Georgia and Top 100 Super Lawyers® in Georgia. In 2016 she was named Atlanta Legal Aid Volunteer of the Year. Dawn received the AAML Public Service Award in 2021.

About Dawn

Dawn was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and she currently lives in Decatur with her husband and beloved dog Sunny. Dawn has two adult sons and enjoys hiking, meditating, jigsaw puzzles and knitting.

“A good family lawyer understands the nuances of a wide variety of issues – child & adult psychology, the bests interests of children in conflict, business valuation, a variety of asset classes, complicated personal finance and employment issues all the while being familiar with the Judges and the Court in which they practice. My decades of experience and relationship with the bench help me navigate this quagmire with clients to get the best, most advantageous and carefully crafted resolution possible.”

- Dawn

“Dawn Smith grasps the complexities and intricacies of a case so quickly. When children are involved I can think of no better representation for their best interest. Compassionate, understanding, and tough when it matters.”



American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Georgia Chapter “Cutting Edge Custody Issues” December 2022

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Annual Meeting “Crafting Parenting Plans that Address the Unique Cultural Dynamics of a Family” November 2022

Georgia Psychological Association “Stay in Your Lane while Expanding Your Practice: Clinical and Ethical Issues When Working with Family Law Attorneys” May 2022

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, New York Chapter “Evidentiary Considerations When Using Mental Health Experts in Child Custody Litigation” May 2022

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Annual Meeting “The Intersection of Mental Health and Custodial Issues” November 2019

Georgia Bar Family Law Institute “Issues Related to Special Needs Children in Custody and Child Support Cases” May 2019

Georgia Bar Family Law Institute “When to Hire Co-Counsel “A Jack of All Trades” Lawyer is Master of None” May 2018

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Georgia Chapter, Program Chair  “Trial Skills Seminar” 2017 

Georgia Bar Family Law Institute “Support Options and Obligations for Minor and Adult Children with Disabilities” May 2017

Georgia Superior Court Judges Summer Conference & Educational Sessions “Third Party Custody Actions” Winter Conference 2017

Georgia Superior Court Judges Summer Conference & Educational Sessions “Sexual Abuse Allegations and Custody” Winter Conference 2016 

Georgia Psychological Association “Ethical and Legal Challenges Working with Families” 2016 

Georgia Superior Court Judges Summer Conference & Educational Sessions “Substance Abuse and Custody” July 27-30, 2015

Tropical Seminar “Impact of Cheating and Drinking in Family Law, Does it Really Matter?” February 12-14, 2015

ICLE Special Needs Trust “Special Education Law Basics”  2015

Council of Superior Court Judges 2015 Winter Conference “Special Needs, Special Education in Custody and Support” 2015

Georgia Bar Association, Family Law Institute “Special Needs/Special Education in Custody and Support Cases” 2014

Atlanta Bar Association Pro Bono March Madness – Volunteer Guardians ad Litems 2014

Georgia Bar Association, Family Law Institute “Fertile Ground: Cross Examination and Direct of Custody Evaluators” 2013

Cobb County Bar Association  “Ethics and the GAL “ 2013

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates  “New Attorney Training “ 2011-2021 

Georgia Bar Association, Family Law Section “Nuts and Bolts of Family Law “ 2012

National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder  “Legal Issues for Families “ 2012

Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation , Guardian ad Litem Training –Lecturer – 2007-2022

Georgia Psychological Association – Custody Evaluator Training December 2009 

10th Judicial Circuit, Guardian ad Litem Training – Program Chair and Lecturer – 2007

ICLE Georgia – School and College Law “Special Needs Trusts, Due Process Hearings, Administrative Law” 2004-2005

Marcus Institute “Update on IDEA” 2005

Lorman Education Services  “Asperger’s Syndrome, Family Education Rights and Privacy” 2003, 2005

Fulton County Juvenile Court –“Discipline and Special Needs” 2001

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates “ADHD, Compensatory Servicers, Transition” 2003, 2005, 2008