Emily Cochran has learned how to move from the darkness to the light. She’s dedicated now to helping others do the same, particularly women and children swept up in divorce and abuse.
Emily grew up in Bluefield, West Virginia, a small town on the Virginia line hit hard by declines in the coal industry and the heroin epidemic. Even the Wendy’s is closed. Once upon a time, Emily’s father was the starting quarterback, and her mother was homecoming queen.
As a 14-year-old freshman at Bluefield High School, Emily was the victim of a brutal assault. The prosecutor advised against putting her on the stand, leaving her vulnerable to the defense attorneys representing her four attackers. Her grieving parents agreed.
Emily shrugs. “God isn’t about making our lives mess-free – He’s about turning our messes into something beautiful.”
She considered careers in medicine, business and psychology but decided on law, she says, because she wanted to help the whole person. “Being a lawyer combined everything I wanted to do – the medicine, the psychology, finding ways to agree. In my practice of family law, you really are a counselor.”
She came to Northern Kentucky and worked full-time as litigation paralegal while putting herself through night school at Chase College of Law. From 2010 to ’13, she volunteered every other Saturday at the Women’s Crisis Center.
“If someone was a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, I’d go to the hospital, help them through the process and be there to share information about services and options available to them. Many times, I would be there with them through the SANE exam (or rape kit), which is very invasive experience. I would hold her hand and be whatever she needed me to be.”
Her career focus was further honed through her own divorce and the diagnosis of her son’s special needs. By that time, Emily had joined a private family law practice. She also served as a guardian at litem at the Children’s Law Center in Covington.
“Most of what I did there was represent children in high conflict custody cases; the worst of the worst. I also represented children who had identified disabilities and weren’t getting services they were entitled to. Some of my cases also involved children who were sexually or criminally abused.
“I’ve had to draw from all three realms of that experience to advocate for my son. My life’s mission moving forward is to help children be safe.”
Emily believes divorce is a tragedy unless you learn and grow from it. She says she is a nester – her space at the Firm’s Northern Kentucky office has brightly colored curtains hanging on the windows and is decorated with her children’s drawings, thank you cards from clients, and photographs of her husband and all of their children - which, between the two of them, they'd have enough to form their own baseball team.
“I want to use my life to help people get through their own bad experiences.
I work to get people to calm down, to focus on the bigger picture. At one time, they got along. I try to get them back to that for the sake of the children.
“The unfortunate fact is that the divorce rate is nearly 50 percent, which means there’s a good chance your own child could go through divorce. So it’s important to show your kids what a healthy divorce looks like.”
After graduating magna cum laude with her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Bluefield State College, Emily spent a year working in London, UK as a Business Consultant where she met the recruitment needs of global businesses and jobseekers throughout Europe, Africa and Australia. She moved to Kentucky in 2007 to attend Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law, where she earned her Juris Doctorate in 2011.
Prior to merging with Graydon in 2018, Emily M. Cochran was with Mark A. Ogle Family Law Practice, PLLC as an associate attorney, office manger or combination of the two for five years. In April 2013, desirous of practicing family law yet wanting to learn from the best, Emily reached out to Mark while she was awaiting her results from the Kentucky Bar Exam and convinced him to bring her onboard. He has been her mentor and friend ever since. Emily worked for Mark for two years, then decided to pursue her passion for representing the “good guys” in high conflict custody cases – the children. She joined Children’s Law Center, Inc. (CLC) as a Staff Attorney/Guardian ad Litem in March 2015, where she provided legal representation to children and youth throughout the Northern Kentucky region, primarily focusing on high conflict child custody cases, education law, and KRS 26A.140 criminal sexual and physical abuse cases where the alleged victim was a minor child. During this time, she also continued to manage the client and office accounts at Mark A. Ogle Family Practice, as well as prepared appellate briefs for various family law attorneys in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati on a contract basis. In July 2017, she returned to Mark A. Ogle Family Law Practice as a Senior Associate, expanding the practice to cover Domestic Relations matters in Ohio. Nine months later, Mark A. Ogle Family Law Practice, PLLC merged with Graydon, where she has continued practicing family law and advocacy in both Ohio and Kentucky.
Emily has nearly twenty years of experience working in the legal field either as a litigation paralegal, law clerk, or attorney. She has volunteered for Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio as a Guardian ad Litem in dependency, neglect and abuse cases, and continues to passionately advocate for children in private practice in as a Guardian ad Litem in Ohio domestic relation cases, and as Guardian ad Litem, Friend of Court, or Parenting Coordinator in Kentucky child custody/divorce cases. Emily was appointed by Governor Bevin to serve as the Child Advocate representative on the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines Review Commission, an appointment and position she has held since 2017.
Although Emily loves being back in private practice, she considers herself to be a lifetime child advocate. She takes great pride in being able to help clients keep the focus on the children throughout the divorce and custody process. Moreover, as the mother of a brilliant and radiant little boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Emily has increasingly been asked to serve as a consultant in collaborative divorces involving children with special needs. Emily is also very passionate about Medicaid reform so that Medicaid Waivers are made more accessible to special needs children and their families. She has helped guide many clients and families throughout the (unfortunately) very difficult process of obtaining the appropriate services and accommodations children are entitled to receive under the law.
Emily lives in Northern Kentucky with her husband, Jason DeSantis, and their five children that they have together and between them. In her spare time, she enjoys family fun days, date nights, and soaking up precious time with all of her “kiddos.” Emily also loves yoga, decorating, gardening, and traveling, as well as going to museums, coffee shops, flea markets, and concerts.