Judge wins statewide family law award
A local judge has won a statewide award for her work in family law.
Kent County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Feeney was presented with the Justice Marilyn J. Kelly Award for Outstanding Service to the Practice of Family Law by the State Bar of Michigan Family Law Section at the 15th-annual Family Law Institute event in Novi this month.
Feeney is the second recipient of the Justice Marilyn J. Kelly Award, which was named after retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly. The first recipient was Oakland County Circuit Judge Joan Young.
Mika Meyers attorney Elizabeth Bransdorfer, a former colleague of Feeney’s, said Kelly was “one of the few” justices who had family law experience before taking the high court bench.
“She’s the justice everyone looked to as the most knowledgeable and well respected on family law,” she said, noting the award in Kelly’s name is meant to honor those with family law experience.
Bransdorfer said Feeney received the award, “because she is an outstanding judge with a great reputation” — with a history of family court service, service to the community, leadership among her peers, dedication to the job and “a caring heart.”
“I’ve known Judge Feeney personally for quite awhile before she went to work for the Circuit Court, and she has always been extraordinarily smart, caring and hard working,” Bransdorfer said. “Her level of commitment to family law has been exceptional. It takes a different kind of person to be willing to address the kind of issues that come before a family judge, as well as money and property issues and issues of intra-family dynamics. Judge Feeney not only got into family division work, but she has stayed.”
Feeney has been practicing law since 1987 and took the bench in Kent County Circuit Court in 2000.
Before taking the bench, Feeney clerked for Judge Jane Markey of the Michigan Court of Appeals. She also practiced family, employment and insurance law with the firms of Mika Meyers and Foster Swift.
She is also chair of the Family Law Committee of the Michigan Judges Association, serves on State Court Administrative Office workgroups, lectures for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and participates with national organizations that work to support and improve the delivery of justice to families and children.