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Dawn Ryan Budner

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Family Law Attorney in Dallas, TX

Calabrese Budner LLP
5944 Luther Lane, Suite 875
Dallas, TX 75225
Phone: 214-939-3000
Fax: 214-939-3001
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2005 - 2007
Selected to Rising Stars: 2004 - 2005
Licensed in Texas Since: 1990
Practice Areas: Family Law
Attorney Profile

As the co-managing partner and the head of the litigation department at Calabrese Budner, LLP, Dawn Ryan Budner devotes her practice to helping individuals throughout the greater Dallas, Texas, metropolitan area with family law matters, including divorce, child custody, spousal support, adoption and community property issues. Ms. Budner developed her courtroom skills at a prestigious Dallas litigation firm where she won multimillion-dollar jury verdicts for her clients in both state and federal courts. She now uses that experience to obtain favorable outcomes for her clients in court and at the negotiating table. 

Ms. Budner was admitted to practice before all Texas state courts in 1987 after earning her Juris Doctor from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law. She is additionally admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Western Districts of Texas as well as before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Ms. Budner’s community involvement has included her devoting time to the Vogel Alcove center for homeless children and co-founding the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance. 

While Ms. Budner is ready to advocate fiercely on behalf of her clients in court when necessary, she prefers to resolve family law disputes through discussion and negotiation whenever possible. This is why all of the attorneys on her litigation team are trained in collaborative divorce. Her tireless work on behalf of her clients and her high ethical standards have led to Ms. Budner earning the coveted AV Preeminent* peer review rating through Martindale-Hubbell. This is the highest rating possible, and it is reserved for attorneys who faithfully adhere to the highest ethical standards of the legal profession.

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Practice Areas
  • 100%Family Law
Focus Areas

Alimony & Spousal Support, Child Support, Custody & Visitation, Dissolution, Divorce, Paternity, Prenuptial Agreements, Marital Property, Mediation & Collaborative Law, Same Sex Family Law


3 Years Super Lawyers
2 Years Rising Stars
  • Super Lawyers: 2005 - 2007
  • Rising Stars: 2004 - 2005

About Dawn Ryan Budner

First Admitted: 1990, Texas

Professional Webpage:

Educational Background

  • The University of Texas, B.A. with High Honors, 1987


  • D Magazine: Ask the Expert on Collaborative Divorce , Collaborative Law with Calabrese Budner Family Law: Ask the Expert, Family Law
  • Zealous representation is a term of art for lawyers—the long-held yard-stick by which our duty to the client is measured. For courtroom lawyers, this means zealously advocating the facts and law in support of our client’s position. Assuming “zealous” means we are earnest and dedicated—rather than fanatical or wild-eyed—we do not question the standard very often., “Zealous Representation” in the Family Courts?, Family Law
  • Ground rules: Keep you marriage and mental health healthy., Communication Under Quarantine: Ground Rules, Family Law
  • For over 75 years, divorcing couples have had incentive to include alimony as part of their property settlement. Under current tax laws, alimony payments are deductible by the paying spouse and taxed as income to the receiving spouse. For couples with disparate income levels, this is a win/win., Breaking Up is Harder to Do…, Family Law
  • These are unprecedented times. Before succumbing to fear, remember also to think. Breathe and relax so you can engage the thinking part of your brain. Identify the specific disagreement(s). Write down your own position, and your co-parent’s position. Are there ways to address concerns on either side while accommodating both parent’s views? If not, ask yourself why would a reasonable, responsible parent take the position your ex is taking? Remember that a virus is not only danger your child is facing. Parental conflict is far more likely to harm your child than COVID-19., A Co-Parent’s Guide to Protecting Physical & Emotional Health of Children In A Global Pandemic, Family Law
  • Calabrese Budner is a law firm that specializes in family law and divorce, and they know marriages that were struggling before are being tested even more now. Family law practices expect that once we are on the other side of this health crisis, and the restrictions are lifted, there likely will be a surge in divorce filings., Don’t Let Your Marriage Become Another Coronavirus Casualty, Family Law
  • You may already be the perfect spouse. You exude empathy and love and role model all the best practices for growing a marriage that will last a lifetime. For you, it’s simple. You just happen to possess the very qualities that draw others to you and inspire them to evolve toward their highest potential., Emotionally Intelligent Spousing: You Go First!, Family Law
  • As with all things parenting and co-parenting, there is no manual to answer the toughest questions. And now we are truly breaking new ground with parenting while working remotely through the first global pandemic., Emotionally Intelligent Co-Parenting In A Pandemic, Family Law
  • Emotional intelligence means being present in the moment with others. It means listening to the message and observing tone, expression and body language—all clues to what lies beneath the surface for our people., Sheltering in a Place of Emotional Intelligence , Family Law
  • Is there such a thing as an emotionally intelligent divorce? If so, who are these unfeeling spouses, capable of logic as they inventory what’s left of their shattered dreams? Nobody marries with the expectation of a future divorce., What Is An Emotionally Intelligent Divorce? , Family Law

Representative Clients

  • Dawn represents clients in high-stakes divorce, modifications and other family matters, whether litigation or collaborative divorce. Dawn was an equity partner in a top Dallas commercial litigation firm and she has knowledge and experience in complex financial and property matters.   

Bar/Professional Activity

  • Chair, Relaunch! Career Resources, Dallas Bar Association (2019-20), 2020
  • Steering Committee, WE LEAD, Dallas Bar Association (2019-20), 2020
  • Faculty, Depositions Trial Academy (Dallas, October 2019), 2019
  • Life Skills for Lawyers Committee, Dallas Bar Association, 2019
  • Faculty, Collin County Trial Academy (Fall 2018)

Pro bono/Community Service

  • Founding Board Member, Dallas Urban Debate Alliance  (2007 – present); Board Member, National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (2008–15), 2020
  • Board Member, Wezmore (2015-present), 2020
  • Board Member, Vogel Alcove Daycare Center for Homeless Children (2019-20) , 2020


  • During these uncertain times, it’s important that you have done the work (therapy) and asked yourself the big questions (what is it like this before COVID) before you make the decision to tell your spouse. , DDT from the Couch, Episode 2: How/when to tell my spouse?, Family Law, 2020
  • Divorce is an emotionally charged process. That’s why it’s vitally important to have an attorney who understands Emotionally Intelligent Divorce™ in your corner, focused on your interests., Emotionally Intelligent Divorce, Family Law, 2020
  • In the fourth episode, Dawn & Carla take you through the Collaborative Process, and provide recommendations on Neutrals you should reach out to for Zoom consults., DDT from the Couch, Episode 4: Collaborative Divorce During COVID-19, Family Law, 2020
  • In the third episode of DDT from the Couch, we give you the lay of the land regarding courts, lawyers, and “non-CV emergencies”., DDT from the Couch, Episode 3: Divorce Limbo During Covid-19!, Family Law, 2020
  • In the first episode of “DDT from the Couch”, Carla and Dawn walk viewers through virtual consults, what you need to prepare and what you need to think about when it comes to your children, income and co-existence., DDT from the Couch, Episode 1: I Was About to File For Divorce!, Family Law, 2020
  • Stay at home parents: Be Careful., The Stay at Home Parent Penalty, Family Law, 2018
  • More about stay at home parents., The Stay at Home Parent Penalty Part 2, Family Law, 2018
  • Learn more about how to handle your divorce., The Story of Your Divorce, Family Law, 2018
  • Learn how to protect your assets during the divorce process., Cover Your Assets in Divorce, Family Law, 2018
  • Clinical Psychologist Dr. Honey Sheff joins the show to dispense some essential marriage advice to keep you from the dreaded D word., How to Stay Married: Advice from Dr. Honey Sheff, Family Law, 2018
  • Clinical Psychologist Dr. Honey Sheff returns to the podcast to share some essential coping mechanisms to help you survive the divorce process., How to Survive A Divorce: Advice with Dr. Honey Sheff, Family Law, 2018
  • Your children should be at the center of your divorce decisions. Understand how to make the divorce process better for them., Consider the Kids in Divorce Part II, Family Law, 2018
  • Are you making these common divorce mistakes?  Dawn and Carla tell all in this part two of the worst mistakes made in divorce and how to avoid being part of the problem., Worst Mistakes in Divorce Part II, Family Law, 2018
  • Your children should be at the center of your divorce decisions. Understand how to make the divorce process better for them., Consider the Kids in Divorce Part I, Family Law, 2018
  • Empowering Cinderella: Advice for the Non-Monied Spouse, Empowering Cinderella: Advice for the Non-Monied Spouse, Family Law, 2018
  • Are you making these common divorce mistakes, Worst Mistakes in Divorce Part I, Family Law, 2018
  • The family courthouse is different than any other kind of law: in a word, it’s a gamble. Beyond the financial expense, it is impossible to assess the risk before you are past the point of no return. No matter the facts of your case, the given is precious little time in front of the judge (who, by the way, has seen it all) to explain your side. Dawn and Carla have seen it, too, and have specific suggestions on how to navigate your divorce outside the courthouse whenever possible., Why You Want to Stay Out of Divorce Court, Family Law, 2018
  • Protecting the Prince: A Guide to Prenuptial Agreements, Protecting the Prince: A Guide to Prenuptial Agreements, Family Law, 2018
  • The fastest growing divorce population is in people over 50. Find out what you can do to avoid late in life divorce.  , How to Avoid a Grey Divorce, Family Law, 2018
  • Believe it or not, divorce has seasons. Why is January the big month for divorce? Is it because no one wants to ruin the December holidays? Or maybe the New Year’s Resolutions? Explore with Dawn and Carla the psychology of timing in divorce, whether there are indeed “better” times to file, and how the trends skew. Examining the patterns, they give food for thought and advice to those considering the when of divorce., January, The Month for Divorce?, Family Law, 2018
  • When one spouse requests an evaluation of the other, it’s common for judges to order a “custody evaluation,” a detailed assessment of both parents. The appointed evaluator interviews children, parents, teachers, and anyone appropriate to provide a clear picture of the parental situation with the “best interest of the child” as top priority. Evaluations are more prevalent now than ever. How can you best handle the scrutiny of an evaluation in addition to the obvious pressures of surviving your divorce? , How to Win a Custody Evaluation , Family Law, 2018
  • It is not uncommon for us to get calls from both women and men, “My spouse is having an affair!” While the experience is too common, for the individual involved, we remember it is personal. What should you be aware of within your marriage that might help you “divorce-proof”? Hint: in large part, it has to do with who is in charge of what (i.e. does one partner know everything money and the other know everything kids but never the two meet?)., I Think My Spouse is Having an Affair , Family Law, 2017
  • The number one step in divorce is the divorce lawyer consult: as many potential clients have no idea what to expect, this meeting can come with unnecessary anxiety. While it is probably the client’s first consult, Dawn and Carla have led many: let their expertise be your guide., What to Expect in a Divorce Consult , Family Law, 2017
  • We are Dawn Budner and Carla Calabrese of the family law firm Calabrese Budner located in Dallas, Texas. We created Dallas Divorce Talk radio show and podcast to answer questions and provide support for all things divorce. As divorce attorneys, mothers, and women of a certain age, who better to set the record straight on the highly misunderstood state of affairs, no pun intended(!), known as divorce? , Meet the Girls: Carla Calabrese & Dawn Budner , Family Law, 2017

Scholarly Lectures/Writings

  • When divorce becomes a reality, there is no escaping the onslaught of intense emotional turmoil it brings. That's why choosing the right lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make in a divorce. , Author, Can I Not Just Survive But Thrive After Divorce?, PaperCity Magazine , Family Law, 2020
  • State Bar of Texas Collaborative Law meeting, Faculty, Co-Presenting on Using Social Media to Effectively Grow Your Collaborative Practice, 2019
  • Here's how to foster a feeling of love and security this holiday season., Author, Creating a Happy Holiday Environment for Children of Divorce , D Magazine , Family Law, 2018
  • Calabrese Budner offers a modern approach to Family Matters, Author, Calabrese Budner, LLP- Family Law, Local Profile, 2020
  • Education about collaborative divorce and why it is better for families than litigation, Author, Ask the Expert: Collaborative Law, D Magazine, 2019
  • Using Social Media to Effectively Grow Your Collaborative Practice,” State Bar of Texas Collaborative Law Conference, Author and Presenter, “Using Social Media to Effectively Grow Your Collaborative Practice,” State Bar of Texas Collaborative Law Conference (May 7-8, 2019), Collaborative Divorce Texas; State Bar of Texas, 2019
  • Divorce Just Got More Complicated,” D Magazine (March 30, 2018), Author, “Divorce Just Got More Complicated,” D Magazine (March 30, 2018), D Magazine, 2018


  • Selected by peers as Best Lawyers in Dallas -- Family Law, Best Lawyers in Dallas -- Family Law, D Magazine, 2020
  • Best Lawyers in America, “Best Lawyers in America® - Family Law”, Woodward White, Inc., 2020
  • Woman Leader in the Law,” American Lawyer 2018-19, "Woman Leader in the Law”, American Lawyer

Industry Groups

  • child custody disputes (litigation and collaborative divorce)
  • complex property division
  • Family law matters including divorce
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Office Location for Dawn Ryan Budner

5944 Luther Lane
Suite 875
Dallas, TX 75225

Phone: 214-939-3000

Fax: 214-939-3001

Last Updated: 7/27/2021

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