Donna J. Smiedt and Desaray R Muma

LEADING WOMEN

Donna J. Smiedt and Desaray R Muma The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt

Donna J. Smiedt and Desaray R Muma
The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt

Family law has been Donna Smiedt’s specialty—and her passion—for over thirty years. During that time, her firm has become the go-to place in our area for complex family law litigation, including divorce, property division, adoption, child support, paternity, and post-divorce modification. A good thing got even better when Donna welcomed aboard a dynamic, young attorney named Desaray Muma.

As Donna relates, “Desaray came to work for me, four years ago, after working for a colleague of mine who was leaving private practice to become a professor. I began tasking her with research and briefs, which she promptly and expertly returned to me, no questions asked. I found her to be a dedicated and intelligent young lawyer. I started her training by having her take on uncontested cases and appear at the least contested or least challenging hearings, to gain experience. She performed flawlessly. As her confidence level and knowledge of family law grew, I dragged her along to watch and learn as I tried the more complex and high-conflict family law cases that are my specialty. One day, in the judge’s chambers, I was arguing a fairly specialized area of the family code on a tricky enforcement case with several hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake, against a very seasoned family law attorney. We were jabbing back and forth, when suddenly, a strange voice spoke up with an incredibly lucid and compelling statement regarding my client’s case. The room fell silent and the judge asked, ‘And who are you?’ Desaray said, ‘I’m Desaray Muma, Ms. Smiedt’s associate attorney.’ The judge said, ‘Young lady, I believe you’re correct. That’s my ruling.’ And Desaray Muma, Attorney at Law had arrived. She’d come into her own. And I couldn’t have been prouder!”

“When I began as a younger attorney, I aspired to have the confidence and tenacity I saw in Donna,” Desaray said. “She took me under her wing and has played a huge role in me becoming the attorney I am today. I’ve gained invaluable experience in all areas of family law including divorces, child custody battles, adoptions, child support, and Child Protective Services litigation.” Desaray’s favorite cases are those involving the collaborative law process. “This involves a series of meetings outside of court focused on settlement from the beginning of the case, allowing families to have a customized process and control over their case,” Desaray said. “Collaborative law gives families the right to make decisions for their children and sets parents up for future success in co-parenting.”

A hallmark of Donna’s practice has always been understanding the emotional toll litigation can take. For 30 plus years, she’s guided her clients deftly through the legal aspects of the process but also the more personal ones, proffering advice on how best to navigate the emotional minefields of family law and easing transitions for everyone in the family, including children, who often struggle the most with the adjustments.

“The more information I have, the better I can present options to them,” she said. “The more informed I keep them, throughout the proceedings, the less stressful it will be for them. Total honesty between my client and myself is the best way to get the desired results.”

Those efforts have been recognized by a Fort Worth Top Attorney award, as well as being voted Family Law Attorney of the Year in Arlington no less than seven times.

Desaray agrees, “As an attorney and in my personal life, I abide by ‘my word is my bond’,” she said. “Nothing is more important to me than integrity.” Another welcome addition to the firm is Desaray’s rescue dog, Baxter. “He’s a Maltese mix—a little dog with a big personality,” she said. “He comes to work with me every day, greets clients, and trots back into my office, while I meet with them. We call him our ‘divorce therapy dog’ because of his calming effect on people.”

Last year, the firm fell on challenging times when Donna suffered an injury that caused her to take a lengthy medical leave. “As I worked from home following surgery, Desaray took on many of my cases as well as keeping up with her own busy caseload,” Donna said. “Without me even asking, she assumed more responsibility at the firm and showed me she was ready and able to efficiently manage all her own cases—and some of mine—with the excellence to which my clients have become accustomed. If not for her, the firm I’ve built through family sacrifice, personal grit, and a desire to provide the best legal services to our community could have been in serious jeopardy.”

Donna decided to make Desaray the firm’s first non-equity partner. “Not only is she an awesome lawyer in the courtroom as well as in the collaborative practice of family law, she’s proven to have the ability to manage employees and to interview, hire, and train many of our spectacular support staff,” Donna said.

“We’ve grown the firm to include a senior litigation lawyer, Michael A. Munoz, with almost 15 years of family law experience as well as amazing paralegals, legal assistants, office manager, receptionist, and chief financial officer, to provide the best possible front and back office service to our clients as Arlington and Mansfield’s full-service family law firm.”

“I’ve had the privilege to watch Desaray blossom into the brilliant, beautiful, young lawyer and businesswoman she is today—a proficient attorney, confident in her own skills,” Donna said. “That’s important in the fast pace of the Tarrant County Courthouse. She’s garnered the respect of her opposing counsel and the jurists before whom she regularly practices. I feel confident of an excellent future for both of us in this endeavor we love.”

CONTACT
3216 West Arkansas Lane
Arlington, Texas 76016
(817)-572-9900
ArlingtonDivorces.com

by Meredith Knight / Photos by Lauren Marie Medean

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