Prior to attending law school, I earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas. For over fifteen years, I worked as a licensed mental health therapist in schools serving children who qualified for special education due to emotional and behavioral disabilities. I went to law school knowing that I would be able to use the knowledge I had as a counselor and educational consultant to help children and families.
I attended the evening program at Seattle University School of Law, and continued to work full-time as a mental health specialist for Kent School District.
I am excited to serve children and families who need the assistance of an educational attorney. I really enjoy helping families navigate the complexities of the schools and special education because the results are practical and I get to see children succeed. I worked as a consultant for public schools for many years, so my experience is grounded in an understanding of the culture of schools as well as knowledge about the law. Parents often feel outnumbered and misunderstood. I help my clients who are facing discipline, special education, or other school-related issues and would benefit from legal counsel.
Most recently, I was the program attorney for Family Law CASA of King County. Family Law CASA is a non-profit that provides court-appointed, volunteer guardian ad litem services in low-income family law cases. The role of the agency is to protect the needs of children in family law disputes. My role at the agency was to represent both the program and the volunteer assigned to the case in court. Often during divorce proceedings, the needs of the children are easily diluted in the face of the better articulated needs of their parents. My job was to ensure that the focus of the case remained on the best interests of those children. As part of that process, I encouraged parents, even in dire situations, to better see and acknowledge the needs and interests of their children.
My experience in court and at family law mediations gives me the practical understanding of how to effectively represent clients in the divorce process. This experience guides my work with my clients, allowing me to translate the often foreign legal process into understandable steps. I listen to what my clients say about what they need, and about their fears and concerns. I work with them to develop a plan to navigate the legal process in order to create a positive outcome for themselves and their families. My goal is to provide my clients with thorough information and preparation and to help them to feel knowledgeable and empowered, so that the often painful process of moving out of a marriage or partnership is made easier and more successful.
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We are so lucky to have Michelle Fontenot on our team. Michelle's therapeutic background and extensive experience tackling custody cases from the viewpoint of child development provides all of our attorneys an incredible"in-house" resource. I do believe, at times, it provides our client's a critical advantage in the courtroom, through the guardian ad litem or parenting evaluation process, and as they make their way through the transitions in the process of uncoupling. Michelle provides clients realistic expectations and concrete solutions to help them move on confidently to their new lives.
Monica Cary Divorce and separation Attorney