Hometown Lawyers
The attorneys of Williams Family Law rely on teamwork and experience to help their Bucks County clients through trying times
by Sharon A. Shaw

The diverse landscape and highly ranked school systems of Bucks County make it an ideal place to settle down, buy a house and start a family. But all families face the same challenges, no matter how idyllic the setting. If “happily ever after” doesn’t last quite that long, there is one family law office especially adept at addressing the needs of Bucks County residents.

Williams Family Law, P.C. has the largest family law practice of any Bucks County firm. It offers services in all matters related to family law, including divorce, alimony and support, custody and equitable distribution.

“We are identified as a Bucks County firm,” says Jeffrey M. Williams, founder and managing partner of the firm. “Our roots here run deep.” Prior to establishing his own family law practice in 2004, Williams was a partner in an established Bucks County law firm where two of the partners went on to become judges.

The attorneys’ vast experience in the local court system gives Williams Family Law a unique advantage. “What sets our firm apart is that our familiarity with the Bucks County court system guides us to understand what is most likely to happen in any given case,” says attorney Hillary J. Moonay. “Nothing is 100 percent guaranteed, but we are realistic and have a track record of experience. We work to resolve cases in our clients’ best interests.”

Partner Jessica A. Pritchard has practiced with Williams for 15 years and believes it is the firm’s single focus in family law that has made it so successful. “What makes our skill set unique is the depth of our knowledge,” she says. “Our commonality allows us to take a collaborative approach to client representation.”

“Pop quizzes” are a common office activity, according to Williams. “I tell my team, ‘Two heads are better than one.’ We meet for 15 minutes, lay out the facts of each case and then discuss how to best handle it,” he says, “You are never too old or too experienced to learn something new or to listen to an alternative perspective or idea.

“The breadth of knowledge of multiple lawyers gives us a lot of elements to practice domestic law well,” he continues. “Our various perspectives help us achieve results.” He says even the youngest attorneys in the firm are motivated and bring a positive energy to these discussions. “We teach the younger attorneys here to ask, ‘What’s the plan?’” Williams says. “This ‘30,000-foot view’ enables the Williams Family Law attorneys to proactively prepare our cases. Many firms are reactionary; we proactively strategize.”

Williams has been bestowed with many honors and has held several leadership positions within the community. He is currently the Secretary of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Pennsylvania Chapter (AAML-PA) and is the only AAML Fellow with a primary office in Bucks County. One of the accomplishments he is most proud of is his work on the new Custody Act as chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section.

“We have been, as a group, working on custody-reform litigation,” he says. “While it was not solely accomplished by me, I was honored to play a large role in pushing the custody legislation across the finish line. My goal is to improve the field of family law. It is part and parcel with being a lawyer and community-minded individual. We have to help other people, do charitable work and promote our profession.”

Custody is an important component of many Williams Family Law cases and one that is at the heart of many of Williams’ most memorable legal matters. A very difficult issue for families is the relocation of one parent and that parent’s request to move the children to another state. “We have had particularly good success with relocation cases,” Williams says. “Sometimes we are promoting relocation, sometimes blocking it. Either way, these are all emotionally difficult for our clients.”

Pritchard certainly understands a child’s need for stability. As the mother of a child with special needs, the well-being of children is especially important to her. “It can be difficult to focus clients past their anger and help them to make the best decisions for their children,” she says. “I tell my clients not to hate their spouse more than they love their children and to prepare to compromise in their children’s best interests.” She feels that her experiences have made her more reasonable. “One of my strong suits is being frank and forthright,” she says. “It may not be what clients want to hear, but it is what they need to know.

“As family law attorneys, our clients are often with us for many years and may return to us many times until their children turn 18,” she continues. “In many situations, clients have come to depend on our legal and personal counsel. We have many former clients that have told us that they appreciate our empowering them to believe they can be independent people once again.”

Prichard was recently honored with a 2013 Bucks County Bar Association President’s Award in recognition of her dedication and service to the 825-member association. She is an active member of several professional and charitable organizations. She and Williams are rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest legal ability and ethical standards rating granted to her by peers familiar with their work.

Moonay and Williams also take pride in having been honored by their peers as U.S. News & World Report’s Best Lawyers in America 2014. Their law firm was selected as a U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers 2013 “Best Law Firm,” one of only 11 family law firms in the greater Philadelphia area to qualify for the top tier.

Moonay likes the challenge that comes from analyzing the complexity of a family’s finances. She is well versed in the financial aspects of divorce cases, including the intricate issues related to complex business valuations and forensic accounting matters. These skills allow her to help owners of closely held businesses equitably divide what is often both their largest asset and their sole source of income. “Sometimes, attorneys and clients must be creative to find an equitable solution to resolve their case,” she says. “In some circumstances, this may require structuring long-term payments to one spouse. This type of creative thinking comes from the experience of handling many similar cases during the last 15 years.”

Moonay has a background in psychology, which is helpful in family law matters, particularly custody cases. She is trained in several areas of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and collaborative law.

“When a client comes into our office, they are often facing one of the most emotionally challenging times in their life,” Moonay says. “Family law is different than other legal matters; you have to deal with the whole person and the circumstances they are facing. It can be difficult for clients to make decisions. They rely on you for legal and emotional support.” In some instances this may include recommendations for a family therapist for the client or their children, a co-parenting counselor or a financial adviser.

In a recent collaborative case, Moonay had a financial planner participate in meetings with both attorneys and their clients to explain why it was important for one spouse to receive a particular settlement. “Sometimes it is helpful for both parties to see the overall effect on the family,” she says. Explaining to a client that they will be financially secure in the aftermath of a divorce can offer them the security needed to move forward with life.

Like her colleagues, Moonay is active in the community. “As both a parent and a member of the community,” she says, “I want to be a part of the place within which I live, work and raise children.”

Williams Family Law, P.C.
43 N. Pine Street
Doylestown, PA 18901

Photograph by Allure West Studios