June 2021 Newsletter

May brought us some erratic weather but made up for it with a peace offering of the fragrant flowers our state is known for, especially peonies and wild honeysuckle. As the landscape blooms around us, the pandemic is slowly retreating. Still, the staff at SM&P remains vigilant and continues to take precautions to keep our clients and associates safe.

As more clients come to us for legal support, we have added more expertise to serve them. Our Attorney Spotlight this month features our three newest attorneys — Nicole Crites, Taylor Dudley, and Sakeena Leben-Yearwood.

Gov. Kemp signed into law new benefits for families adopting foster children. Find out more through our announcement offering the details.

Members of the legal community got together to socialize for Derby Day at Cobb County Superior Chief Judge Leonard’s residence in Marietta. Catch up on the local fun by reading our report on this celebration.

One of our staff donated $9,000 worth of new books to low-income students in northern Georgia counties. Find out who’s reading in Georgia this summer.

At SM&P, May is a month of good news involving marriages, graduations, and more. We want to share our happy celebrations with our friends and clients. See our list of personal positive happenings:

· Taylor Dudley and Ben Myler have recently passed the Georgia Bar as relocation attorneys.

· Executive assistant-employee relations, Sherri Dombi, celebrated the nuptials of her daughter Olivia and Andrew Trommer in Lexington, Kentucky. After a mini-moon to Vegas, they are planning to relocate to Florida.

· Paralegal Kristin Proud celebrated the graduation of her son, Lorenzia Billy Woods, III, a fourth-generation Marietta High School alum, from the Citadel.

· Jan Hoover, our accounting assistant, celebrated the high school graduation of her son, Tyler Hoover, from North Paulding High School. He plans to attend Georgia Southern.

· Judy Sartain’s daughter, Catherine Lacy Sartain, earned her JD from UGA’s law school. She’ll take the bar in July and has already accepted a position (pending bar results) in Gainesville as an associate attorney with Candace M. Williams Law, a firm she has worked with the past two years as an intern.

Congratulations and good luck to all! We hope you enjoyed our “good news” and are looking forward to your own good news or good times this summer.


Featured Attorneys

Nicole Crites

After working in the legal field in Florida for almost seven years, Nicole moved to the Atlanta area in 2019. She got her start as a practicing attorney in a domestic relations firm. She decided it was time for more exposure and to make a name for herself in the Atlanta metro area, so she joined the team at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor.






Taylor Dudley

Taylor, a Birmingham, Alabama native, worked in Montgomery in public defense before her interest in family law called her to make a change and move to metro Atlanta. “Advocating for families and children has always been an interest, even before law school,” she said. “I kept thinking about the issues they face and then decided to take action for them.”






Sakeena Leben-Yearwood

Sakeena attended Valdosta State and then enrolled in UGA’s law school. Upon graduation, she had the opportunity to briefly practice family law before taking a position five years ago as public defender of Newton and Fulton Counties. During those years, she couldn’t forget the family law experience or the clients she had helped. Following her instincts, she began her career specializing in family law full-time.




Community News


Bills Benefiting Georgia Foster Children Signed into Law

A recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) by Maya T. Prabhu and Mark Niesse explains recent bills that help foster children in Georgia find permanent homes in the state.






Judge Leonard’s Annual Kentucky Derby Party

Mary Montgomery, SM&P’s founding and managing partner, and some of the firm’s associate attorneys attended a recent Saturday evening social at the Marietta Educational Garden Center. The event that drew them was Chief Judge Robert Leonard, II’s signature Kentucky Derby party, which for many attorneys was one of the most looked-forward-to events of 2021.







New Books Donated to North Georgia Reading Program

SM&P account manager Tori Phillips, through her family’s business, Georgia Book Company, donated more than $9,000 in NEW books to the Walker County School District’s Rossville Reads Summer Initiative in northwest Georgia as part of the Battle of the Books in the county schools.








Recent Content

Podcast Episode #3: How Difficult is Legitimation in Georgia?

In this episode, Mary Montgomery speaks with attorney Dominic Jones to discuss the legitimation process in Georgia. Listen now or read the transcript to learn more about what courts consider during a legitimation claim.




Can a Divorce Resettlement Be Reopened?

Reopening a divorce settlement is generally not something allowed under Georgia law, but there are exceptions to the rule. Your settlement can be reopened but only in certain cases and under certain conditions. If you feel your settlement is unfair and should be changed or there are extenuating circumstances in your case, reaching out to an attorney may be the right thing to do.