Navigating family crisis and conflict often comes with a lot of trauma, but we want to help you manage that! On Untying the Knots, family law attorneys Dawn Smith and Kristen Files explore what it means to be a modern family, redefine “normal”, and invite you to learn from their personal experiences with divorce, break-ups, and co-parenting. Dawn and Kristen add levity to these deeply important topics through their close-knit relationship and invite expert guests to join their raw, insightful, and surprising conversations. Expect these informative, and often humorous, discussions to leave you with necessary tools to survive the tangles of relationship dissolution while strengthening family ties.

SEP 2, 2020

Ep. 10 – What Can A Blended Family Sound Like?

What does a happy blended family sound like? And how can family holidays and gatherings stay special when they no longer resemble the occasions of years past? In this episode of Untying the Knots, Kristen and Dawn bring on two very special guests to demonstrate that a complex, divorced family can be healthy and happy–their exes! Dawn, Kristen, Wendel, and Frank relive some of the painful and cringe-worthy memories from untangling their own knots, offering listeners a glimpse into how they ultimately healed through the trauma of divorce and created new normals for their family. And while both pairs co-parent lovingly today, this is only after over a decade of hard work, hard work that Dawn considers one of the greatest accomplishments of her life. Listen to this episode to hear why Dawn and Kristen believe that family finds a way. And if you’re not there in your journey yet, hold out the hope as this conversation proves how the impossible can one day become reality.

AUG 26, 2020

Ep. 9 – Creating Financial Safety

What is financial safety? And how can financial literacy serve as tools of empowerment when navigating divorce? In this episode of Untying the Knots, Dawn and Kristen discuss the psychological relationship often had with money and how generational wealth, poverty mindset, and debt shaming can serve as obstacles in finding financial freedom. Dawn shares her own relationship with money, imparting the lessons she has learned along the way. They speak with financial planner, Michael Robinson, about helpful strategies and mindsets when it comes to managing money, and Michael shares how financial planners also serve as educators. Listen to this episode to hear Dawn share the financial wisdom passed down from her own mother.

AUG 19, 2020

Ep. 8 – Anti-Racism and the Trauma of White Supremacy

How does systemic racism affect personal trauma, the health of a family, and the role of parenthood? And what does it take to be actively anti-racist? In this episode of Untying the Knots, Kristen and Dawn explore their own relationship as a Black millennial woman and a white middle-aged woman, answering tough questions with both honesty and compassion. Kristen shares what it was like to spend her life operating within white spaces, and Dawn explains the ways white privilege has benefited her own life and career. Kristen and Dawn share resources on how to begin the journey in active anti-racism, and explain why guilt and empathy alone are not enough. Listen to this episode to hear why Kristen depicts white supremacy as a constant hum.

AUG 12, 2020

Ep. 7 – Intimate Partner Violence, Part 2

How does intimate partner violence escalate over time? And what makes it difficult for a survivor to leave an abusive relationship? In this second episode of a series on Intimate Partner Violence, Dawn and Kristen share examples of abuse they have witnessed in their clients’ cases and how temporary protective orders can become an important tool for safety. And while it takes survivors an average of 7 times to leave an abusive relationship before it becomes final, there are helpful resources for every step along that journey. Listen to this episode of Untying the Knots to hear why there is hope for healing and future love, regardless of the fear and trauma now.

AUG 5, 2020

Ep. 6 – Intimate Partner Violence, Part 1

What does intimate partner violence entail? What are some of the warning signs and patterns that indicate abuse? In this episode of Untying the Knots, Dawn and Kristen break down the red flags associated with intimate partner violence and share ways to make the home a safe space. In this first part of a two-part series, they speak with Jennifer Stolarski, Chief Assistant District Attorney for DeKalb County, Georgia, about teaching children to have healthy relationships, the root of intimate partner violence, and how COVID-19 is affecting outreach to survivors. Listen to this episode to hear how an abuse victim is already a survivor far before they leave their abuser.

JUL 27, 2020

Ep. 5 – Co-Parenting 101

Is amicable co-parenting possible? How can two parents in family conflict get on the same page about their kids? In this episode of Untying the Knots, Dawn and Kristen dive into the best practices of holistic co-parenting, shedding light on their own struggles as co-parents themselves. They discuss what co-parenting can be when consistency and compromise are at the forefront, and how important it is to give your children permission to love their other parent–even in front of you. They speak with clinical psychologist and Cognitive Behavioral therapist, Dr. Kristen Carothers, about the importance of addressing your own trauma before working on your children’s and how validation is essential to healing. Listen to this episode to hear why fighting your instincts can work to your family’s advantage in the long term. For show notes, click here.

JUL 22, 2020

Ep. 4 – Good Support Systems

What are the rules of disengagement? Are there dos and don’ts to breaking up? In this episode of Untying the What makes a good support system? And how can support systems create healing and progress during a time of family conflict? In this episode of Untying the Knots, Dawn and Kristen explore what to look for in support systems and share how therapy has been an essential tool in their own family — crisis or not. With the growth in virtual therapy sessions, support is opening up to marginalized communities and making healing possible for those who can’t physically get to an office. They speak with family therapists, Tracy and Andrew McConaghie, to discuss the importance of not talking your family out of their feelings, as well as why a divorce shouldn’t result in a scarlet letter D. Listen to this episode to hear why you deserve support. And don’t be tempted; your lawyer isn’t it. For show notes click here.

JUL 15, 2020

Ep. 3 – Rules of Disengagement

What are the rules of disengagement? Are there dos and don’ts to breaking up? In this episode of Untying the Knots, Dawn and Kristen discuss the missteps of their own separations, the common mistakes they encounter in their practice, and what actions they believe can help families long-term. Whether it’s staying off social media or enlisting the help of a support system, this episode explores how to ditch a black and white break-up mentality to operate in the gray. They also speak with Chief Judge Christopher Brasher, who explains how these dos and don’ts ultimately affect his ruling on the bench. Listen to this episode to learn a lesson that bears repeating: be wary of receipts. For show notes click here.

JUL 8, 2020

Ep. 2 – Myths About Family

Should parents stay together for the kids? Does child support still take place if both parents are co-parenting amicably? In this episode of Untying the Knots, hosts Dawn and Kristen answer questions like these and unpack some of the most common, and often destructive, myths about family. They speak with Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, Stephanie Coontz, who (literally) wrote the book on the evolution of the modern family, and gain insight into how social structures created in the 1950s color our expectations still today. Listen to this episode to hear Dawn tell you the good news: your family is not “broken”. For show notes click here.

JUL 1, 2020

Ep. 1 – Family Redefined

What is a normal, healthy family supposed to look like? And what happens when the white picket fence dream breaks apart? In this first episode of Untying the Knots, hosts Dawn and Kristen share their own experiences as both children of divorce and modern day co-parents themselves. Through their personal journeys of intentional healing, these two women have found a way to function within their new ideas of normal. Listen to this episode of Untying the Knots to find out what nickname Dawn has for her ex-husband’s wife. And spoiler alert, it’s actually pretty beautiful. For show notes click here.

JUN 19, 2020

Ep. 0 – Introducing Untying the Knots

What does it take to holistically navigate family crisis? Is it possible to endure major family changes without the trauma? On the first season of Untying the Knots – launching July 1 – family law attorneys Dawn Smith and Kristen Files share tools and resources on the dos and don’ts of breaking up, co-parenting, financial safety, and more. With plenty of personal experience navigating family crisis themselves, Dawn and Kristen share their own stories as they sit with expert guests and discuss what it takes to survive the tangles and strengthen the ties.