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Stephen Vincent Smith

Divorce and separation Attorney at San Diego, CA

4.9   9 reviews

also known as SMITH FAMILY LAW, APC.

Free consultation
Free consultation
  • Licensed for 18 years
    State CA
    Acquired 2005
    Active No misconduct found

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

About Stephen

Learn Stephen’s areas of practice.


For more than a decade, Stephen V. Smith has exclusively served as a powerful advocate for his clients, guiding both men and women through difficult divorces and complex family issues. Often the best approach for a client is non adversarial which includes mediation and settlement. However, this requires both parties to agree on a compromise. Unfortunately, because emotions run high in this area of the law, many cases must proceed to court to be resolved.  

    Stephen’s tough, savvy approach to litigation coupled with his dedication to his clients has enabled him to best achieve his clients’ goals and safeguard their interests, whether he is dealing with complex matrimonial issues, custody cases, or other family law matters. Stephen’s deep commitment to his clients enables him to serve them in a more powerful way, fighting to protect their interests as if each of their cases were about his own family.

    During perhaps the most difficult time in a person’s life, Stephen’s guidance through the divorce process is one of compassion as well as a straight forward legal analysis of each of the issues in a client’s case. This allows his clients the opportunity to understand the law as it applies to them and to make well informed decisions about how to best proceed with their case.

    Stephen V. Smith is intimately familiar with the divorce process, not only from advocating for clients every day for over 18 years, but also because he himself has been divorced. Attorney Smith represented himself in his own divorce and contentious custody battle before he became an attorney more than 20 years ago. It was during this difficult time that Stephen realized what a dramatic impact a good divorce attorney can have on people’s lives, particularly children’s lives. His passion for family law was born.

    Over a decade later, Stephen has successfully litigated hundreds of contentious divorce, custody, domestic violence, child/spousal support, and high asset division cases in San Diego. He has become familiar with the tendencies of individual judges in each of the county’s courthouses and learned to tailor an effective court room presentation accordingly. Stephen’s reputation in the community with fellow attorneys and judges in unrivaled. His litigation style has been described as appropriately aggressive and relentless.

    Stephen V. Smith is not only a veteran of the family courts, he is also a combat veteran of the United States Navy. While serving in the Desert Storm campaign, his ship (USS Tripoli) was struck by a five hundred pound floating mine. Stephen was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and honorably discharged. Stephen’s background in the military has motivated him to learn all military specific issues related to divorce and provide superior representation at a discounted price to all military members. Over the past 18 years, Stephen has successfully represented hundreds of military members and veterans.

    After his military service, Stephen V. Smith worked his way through college as a single father with primary custody of his young daughter. Stephen graduated with a Bachelor Degree in political science from the University of California, San Diego and a Juris Doctorate Degree from California Western School of Law. In 2017, after many years as a senior associate at one of San Diego’s top family law firms, Stephen founded SMITH FAMILY LAW. Stephen eventually remarried and now enjoys spending all of his free time with his wife, son and daughters. 

Photos and videos


225 Broadway
Suite 2220
San Diego, CA, 92101


4.9 / 5.0
  9 customer reviews
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1 Star
Posted by Jamie | August 10, 2018
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
You want him in your corner
My case was a bit confusing and difficult, dealing with jurisdiction issues, domesticating an order in another state and clarifying the actual custody order when my ex only sent one of our kids home when he was supposed to. I ended up having to get an attorney in two different states trying to settle this. If you need a family law attorney in San Diego, Mr. Smith is the way to go! He is straightforward and no nonsense and will fight for you. He did everything he could to get to the bottom of the issues I was dealing with. Highly recommend him.
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Posted by Isabella | July 17, 2015
Full Legal and Physical Custody in an extremely complicated DVRO Custody Battle!
I wanted to take the time to write a review, as I was so impressed with Stephen Smith's representation of me and my custody case in San Diego. I had an exceptionally difficult split with my ex that involved custody over our newborn daughter, multiple police reports, a DVRO, and a move 600 miles away from the scenario. Despite the twists and turns of my ex having a completely FREE attorney and being 12 years older than me, Stephen won my case and kept me sane during a year long custody battle that was nothing short of ugly most of the time. He guided me through two TRO's, mediation, multiple court appearances, handled in person appearances without me whenever he could so I didn't have to fly from San Francisco to San Diego, and settled my case out of court completely in my favor. Not only did he get me FULL physical custody of my daughter, but also FULL legal custody, supervised visitation for 6 months at only 6 hours at a time twice a month in northern California, and a child support amount well over what was expected. I was very happy with the results, and a year long emotionally draining nightmare was handled by him with the utmost professionalism and caring demeanor. I can't imagine having gone through that period of time with another attorney who could navigate all of the random pieces that arose and complicated matters for my case. He reassured me that my life could be normal again and was the deciding factor in this becoming a reality. Given that custody court is one of the most stressful and terrible things that anyone could go through, it is essential to have a good attorney by your side that you can count on and trust... and I feel that Stephen exceeded my expectations when it came to the outcome of my case as well as the support he provided me when everything was falling apart. Thanks to Stephen, my daughter and I were able to stay together full time, move to northern California to have my family's support during my breakup, and life a peaceful life with all of the drama behind us!
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Posted by Nate | June 9, 2019
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Calm, Efficient, Smart
Steve took on my complex custody case (UCCJEA, special needs, split custody) December of 2018. Where previous attorneys had only shown me large bills, and larger losses, Steve helped calm me down, and plotted a better way forward. He expertly navigated change of jurisdiction from Washington to California, responded succinctly to multiple ex parte motions, and eventually won the case for my family. All executed flawlessly despite less than ideal circumstances (e.g. being forced to argue in front of three different judges ... in one month). I ended up in a better situation than I expected, with minimal effort or outlay of cash. Oh, and he talked me out of spending another $5K (with him) on what - in retrospect - would have been an 'overkill' motion. A lesser attorney would have taken my money and ran with it, despite an outcome that would have had little to no positive effect on my family. Hire this guy, and don't look back.
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Posted by Viktoria | August 7, 2018
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
International move away
I got divorced with 2 children 4years ago. I'm originally from Europe, and my only wish was moving back with my children from an abusive relationship. I was told, that that is impossible. I had multiple attorneys over the years, but i had a feeling , they are working for my ex husband, not for me. This year randomly I've found Mr Smith on the internet. He is smart, calm, has great ideas , he is a good listener, keeping everything in his mind,and it's a very good person. I trusted him, followed whatever he said, and he was always right. His speech in-front the judge was very powerful. After years of struggling I'm able to move back home with my children, and I don't think I was ever more grateful in my life, than I am to Mr. Smith!
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Posted by Jeff | May 3, 2018
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Grandparent Visitation
Our case involved ourselves as grandparents seeking sustained visitation with two of our young grandchildren. Stephen Smith "under-promised" and "over-delivered" in representing us. Over the course of many months, Stephen was realistic in his ongoing assessment of our case and provided a list of actions we as grandparents could take to enhance our opportunities for success. Today, we have ensured our opportunity as grandparents to provide enrichment in the lives of our grandchildren due in large part to the professional expertise of Stephen Smith and his law firm. We are fortunate to have engaged Stephen from the outset.
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Posted by anonymous | July 29, 2015
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Good Job, Steve
Mr. Smith helped me through a very trying time in my life. While the divorce itself sailed through fairly smooth waters, a property settlement encountered some pretty rough seas. Every time the opposing counsel put up roadblocks, Steve got around them and reached what I feel was a very satisfactory outcome. Once again, Steve, thanks for a job well done.
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Posted by Kayley | July 17, 2015
Case involving custody.
First of all there cannot be enough good things, said about Mr.Smith. My case involved a very complicated custody matter.After speaking with multiple offices and attorneys, he was the only one who would accept my case.He is a very upfront, honest attorney.And the work he does, is phenomenal.He is reliable, sharp, and continues to work diligently with my case.I would highly recommend him as an attorney to anyone!.
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Posted by anonymous | April 25, 2011
Im so glad I found him!
Never knew a divorce could be so horrible and stressful, Mr. Smith made it possible for me to have a chance to keep custody of my daughter!
Posted by anonymous | November 14, 2013
Efficient, aggressive and actually seems to care.
Bottom line - successfully got me custody of my child. He is very good, but all emails go to a general mail address for Dunne & Dunne LLP, not to a personal address, which I found confusing and disconcerting considering the poor reputation of Dunne & Dunne on this site. Beware the 0.2 hr. 59.00 charge for email responses, keep your questions to minimum or all grouped in one email. Trust him, but be wary of his firm and insist on monthly invoices on the retainer agreement. Any time that his office calls, it will be for money. Period.
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  • Free Consultation 30 minutes
  • Hourly Rates $ 350-425 per hour
Payment methods
Cash, Check, Credit Card


AVVO RATING 7.7 (Very Good)

Work Experience

  • Managing Partner
  • 2017 - Present
  • Managing Associate
  • Dunne & Dunne, LLP
  • 2012 - 2017
  • Managing Attorney
  • Edmunds Law Firm
  • 2010 - 2012
  • Associate
  • San Diego Law Firm
  • 2008 - 2009
  • Associate
  • Law Office of Stephen V. Smith
  • 2006 - 2008
  • Associate
  • Dicks and Workman
  • 2005 - 2006
View all work experience


  • California Western School of Law
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • N/A
  • University of California - San Diego
  • BA - Bachelor of Arts
  • N/A

Sample of Legal Cases

  • Marriage of Anonymous
  • Father reunited with his daughter


  • American Bar Association
  • Member
  • 2020 - Present
  • San Diego Count Bar Lawyer Referral and Information Services
  • Member
  • 2013 - Present
  • State Bar of California, Family Law Section
  • Member
  • N/A
  • San Diego County Bar Association
  • Member
  • N/A
  • California Lawyers Association
  • Member
  • N/A
  • San Diego County Family Law Bar Association
  • Member
  • N/A
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English

Honors and Awards

  • Best Family Lawyers in San Diego
  • Expertise
  • 2022
  • 2021


  • 2021

Speaking Engagements

  • 2012

Attorney endorsements

Received (5)
Given (5)
Endorse Stephen
Family Attorney | Feb 13
Relationship: Worked together on matter
"I heartily endorse this lawyer. Steve is a very passionate advocate for his clients. He is very aggressive and dedicated to his clients. He takes the time to prepare thoroughly for court, even working late or on weekends to make sure to knows every detail. Steve is very knowledgeable on all areas of family law. But most of all, Steve is a litigator. He is comfortable in court, not afraid of taking on challenging cases and his passion and zeal are reflected in the courtroom."
Child custody Attorney | Feb 06
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Family Attorney | Feb 01
Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter
"Steven was a great advocate for his client and a worthy adversary on the matter. He was compassionate and respectful while fighting for what he felt was right for his client. Together we were able to obtain a respectful resolution for all parties."
Child custody Attorney | Feb 17
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Family Attorney | Jan 17
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
San Diego Divorce and separation Lawyer Stephen Vincent Smith
Stephen Vincent Smith
Divorce and separation Attorney
San Diego, CA
Licensed for 18 years
Free Consultation