by Leslie Feldman
Divorce is a painful process for everyone involved. It involves feelings of bereavement, grief, loss, shock and disbelief. Divorce is often even equated with the death of a loved one, insists local attorney Jeanne Fridey, 57. “Clients are grieving, scared of what will happen to their relationships with their children and frightened of the financial consequences of the divorce.”
The consequences of frightened or grieving clients being represented by overwhelmed attorneys deeply troubled Fridey, who recently opened her own firm in Erdenheim. “When I opened my firm, I made the commitment to change the experience for the people who walked through my door and entrusted me with their lives during this time.”
Fridey, who grew up in Montgomery County and has lived in Wyndmoor for over 20 years, served for about 15 years as the chief litigator for a matrimonial and family law firm before opening her own practice on Bethlehem Pike in Erdenheim. She has exclusively practiced matrimonial and family law in Pennsylvania since 1994. However, Fridey didn’t always consider law as a profession she wanted to pursue. She graduated cum laude from Chestnut Hill College with a B.S. in Psychology, then studied Religion at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, earning a master’s degree and graduating magna cum laude in 1988. Thereafter, she was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania and earned a second master’s degree specializing in Psychological Services.
“I intended to work toward a Ph.D. in Psychology, but a friend who was in law school asked me to participate in a class project in which the students put on a fake trial,” explained Fridey. “I served as a witness in the ‘trial.’ I was mesmerized by the proceedings. In that moment, I knew I wanted to become a lawyer. I changed course and completed my education at Widener University School of Law, where I earned my Juris Doctor.”
In the upheaval that the end of a relationship causes, said Fridey, clients walk into procedures and a system about which they know nothing. “This lack of knowledge further challenges them. Clients want frank discussions about the process, laws and what they can expect. I want to ensure that they understand the basics of family law and are in a position to make informed decisions that best serve them.”
According to a former Fridey client, Syrita, “Jeanne represented me in a highly complex child support case. I was working with Jeanne since 2012, and I was very, very satisfied with the outcome of things. She looked out for me and made sure things turned out the way I wanted and also in the best interest of my son. For things that I did not understand about my case, I was able to reach out to Jeanne, and she got back to me quickly and with great advice.”
To share the basics of family law, Fridey approached Mt. Airy Learning Tree (MALT) to donate her time to teach a course she developed, “Fundamentals of Divorce, Custody and Support.” She teaches it twice a year (March and October) and will be teaching the it again on Wednesdays, March 22 and 29, 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the MALT office, 6601 Greene St.
Judy Weinstein, MALT Executive Director, told us, “Jeannie is very committed to the education of the public regarding the basics of family law and the court system. In her many years of practicing law, she became increasingly troubled that people who are engaged in family law issues have very little understanding of the process and fundamentals involved in divorce, property distribution, custody and support.”
When not at her office, Fridey enjoys reading, gardening, spending time with her stepdaughter Anita and hanging out in Chestnut Hill. “It is such a privilege to live and own a firm right next to Chestnut Hill,” she said. “It truly is a magical place, especially at night during snowstorms and Christmas. I so enjoy running to the Top of the Hill Market or the Farmers’ Market and shopping at Artisans. One of my favorite things is cycling from Northwestern Avenue, past the covered bridge and Valley Green Inn to Lincoln Drive and beyond.”
For more information, call 267-422-3242 or visit www.frideylaw.com. Or call MALT at 215-843-6333. Leslie Feldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org