Family Law Attorney Allison P. Dunham

Cases that go to Family Court are almost always highly emotional ones for everyone involved because they deal with problems arising from people’s most intimate relationships.

Allison P. Dunham, who concentrates her practice solely on family law and who represents clients in Family Court on a regular basis, has developed a keen understanding of what it takes to be not only effective in that venue but to make her clients’ lives more tolerable as they’re going through it.

“It’s highly emotional and people not only need a lawyer to tell them what the law is,” she says. “Sometimes they just need someone to hear their story and sometimes they need some common-sense advice on day-to-day decisions that they might not otherwise have a problem with because they’re emotionally compromised. They need a lot of help. It’s a high-maintenance area of law.”

Dunham is intimately familiar with this reality because she’s been handling cases in Family Court ever since she became a lawyer in 1995 and has been focusing her private practice on family law since joining Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins in 2006.

After receiving her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1995 she practiced briefly in a small law firm before joining the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, where she was a juvenile prosecutor. As a prosecutor, her goal was to rehabilitate youthful wrongdoers and she was a member of the Governor’s Youth Council, an effort to bring together a variety of community resources to build a coalition that sought to break the cycle of crime.

After four years, she joined the Department of Social Services (DSS) as a lawyer focusing on protection of children from parents and guardians. She became the managing attorney of the agency’s legal department and in 2006 she went into private practice with Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins.

Dunham describes her practice as one that encompasses almost the full range of family law: divorce, custody and custody modification, child support and child-support modification, and division of assets. In addition, she handles DSS actions in Family Court.

While the cases can be emotionally draining for everyone, Dunham is committed to family law because she believes it serves a crucial role in society.

“It’s one of the most important areas of law, in my opinion, because usually you’re talking about people’s children or their money or both - and there’s not much that’s more stressful to people than those two topics,” she says. “You’re seeing people at the worst times of their lives and they need a lot of compassion, patience, and understanding, so it’s a challenge. But what I like about it is that you can really help people.”

Dunham sees a big part of her job as simply providing emotional support for clients going through challenging times.

“They need to be told there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and that they’ll get through it,” she says. “They need to know it’ll be OK and that life will return to normal, but it will take time.”
In her limited spare time, Dunham enjoys relaxing with her family, camping, fishing, and reading.