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Mastering High-Stakes Divorce Cases With Marc H. Garelick

April 3, 2024   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Marc Garelick

Marc GarelickMarc H. Garelick is a Partner at Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers, a family law firm specializing in complex divorce and custody cases. He has significant experience with high-conflict cases, custody issues, and financial matters such as business valuations and asset division. Marc manages the firm’s office in Irvine, California. He is active in legal and community organizations, including the California State Bar, the Orange County Bar Association, and various Jewish organizations. Marc has been recognized for his leadership and professional achievements, including receiving awards and being named a “Rising Star” by Southern California Super Lawyers.


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • What does Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers specialize in?
  • Marc H. Garelick explains the divorce process in California
  • Why it’s essential to hire an attorney who has experience in the county where your case will be heard
  • How Marc became a family law specialist
  • Marc’s advice to people who are going through or thinking about getting a divorce

In this episode…

Navigating through a complex divorce case requires a blend of legal expertise and strategic insight. What sets apart a successful outcome in these high-stakes situations?

According to Marc H. Garelick, a seasoned family law strategist, success in complex divorce cases hinges on an attorney’s ability to deeply understand the nuances of family law and to meticulously prepare for each case’s unique challenges. He highlights the critical role of strategic litigation skills, particularly in managing the intricate process of dividing assets and handling custody disputes. The main effect of these approaches, Marc points out, is ensuring that clients not only receive expert guidance through the emotionally charged atmosphere of divorce but also secure outcomes that protect their interests and future.

In this episode of 15 Minutes, host Bela Musits and Marc H. Garelick, Partner at Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers, explore mastering high-stakes divorce cases. They discuss strategies for handling contentious disputes, the importance of choosing the right family law firm, and Marc’s insights on preparing for and navigating through the intricacies of divorce litigation.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. 

To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. 

To learn more, go to or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01

You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know, but likely don’t.

Bela Musits  0:13

Hello, listeners. I’m Bela Musits, host for this episode of the 15 Minutes Share Your Voice podcast, where we talk with top notch law firms and attorneys about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, they deliver tailor made services to help your farm, establish its objectives and maximize your growth potential to have a successful marketing campaign. To make sure you’re getting the best return on investment, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. Today’s podcast guest is family law attorney Marc Garelick. Marc is a Partner at Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers. He has extensive experience in high conflict, custody, child and spousal support, paternity and guardianship proceedings, and contentious and sophisticated family law matters. Marc is particularly skilled with valuations of businesses, and division and characterization of community and separate property assets. He also manages the law firms office in Irvine, California. Welcome to the podcast, Marc.

Marc H. Garelick  1:38

Thank you. Nice to be here.

Bela Musits  1:40 

Yeah, this is great. I’m glad you can join us today. So tell us a little bit more about the law firm.

Marc H. Garelick  1:46

Sure. So we are what I would consider a rather large family law firm. We have about 25 lawyers that are just dedicated to the practice of family law. And it’s anything that would fall under the family courts umbrella. So child support child custody, divorce, paternity actions, domestic violence, division of assets, modification of support, anything that would fall under that umbrella.

Bela Musits  2:15

Got it. Got it. So this sounds like a highly specialized area of the law, you have your own court system to kind of even deal with it.

Marc H. Garelick  2:22

Our code section or own court system.

Bela Musits  2:25

Yeah. Yeah. So if I’m, let’s say, going through a divorce, and I have we have a lot of property, maybe even a business? What’s some words of advice that if I called you, you would give me?

Marc H. Garelick  2:40  

Certainly so you know, if you’re at the initial phases of a divorce, and just kind of be mindful, the types of family law cases that I work with are generally the more contentious, the more complex, they have a lot of meat on them, there are issues that aren’t easily resolved. If you have issues that are kind of no brainers like you guys have a house. And that’s it. You kind of want to address that issue right off the bat and identify what you have. So if it’s just the house, you’re going to look at the value of the house, what money was used to purchase the house? Who’s been paying the mortgage on the house, and from what source of fun did that come from? Just kind of the nature of what you have, when it starts to get more complicated, you really need to kind of take a snapshot. And I like to say that there’s a couple snapshots that you should take, you should take a snapshot, when you first get married, you should get take a snapshot with what’s called a date of separation, which isn’t a legal issue. It’s kind of a date and time that everyone’s going to look at. And then you should take a snapshot of what things look like, right, the second. And sometimes what happens is there are no assets at the beginning of the marriage, or there are assets at the beginning of the marriage. And that’s kind of the first part of the conversation is what happened to those assets. Was there a prenuptial agreement that define what was going to happen to those assets? Were there discussions or other types of contracts as to how property was going to be held? What were you going to do with that property? What the sources of money that those properties had and what they would do? And then you kind of want to do the same thing now and fast forward to Okay, when did you tell the other party and communicate that you no longer wanted to be married to that person anymore? And then how much time has happened since that? What have you done since that moment in time, and you’re going to want to look at all your bank statements, all your financial statements, all of your income tax returns and business tax returns. And you’re going to see kind of what you were doing with those monies what you were spending those monies on what debts you’ve incurred, what debts you have been paying down since that time period. And then you all need to have kind of a plan as to then how you’re going to approach those assets, how you’re going to value them, how you’re going to determine your cash flow and then subsequently your support. And then we talk about strategies on how we’re going to approach that with the other side. Not every case is let’s take you to trial and cut the other person’s head off right? Many times, it’s just kind of gets complex. And we need to figure out what’s there, how much it’s worth before we can decide how we’re going to divide it. And there’s a way to do that without spending hundreds or millions of dollars in litigation to get there.

Bela Musits  5:22

Yeah, well, it sounds like this preparatory part of like you said, you know, what was it like the day you got together? And what’s it like the day you’re separated and taking snapshots and getting all that information? Well, that that sounds like could be a very complex and complicated and arduous task to pull all that stuff together.

Marc H. Garelick  5:44 

It is. And generally, the more complex that your estate is, the more likely that you’re going to need experts to help you with that. So you might need a forensic accountant, you might need a business valuation expert, you might need someone who is an expert that is a niche in whatever business that you’re working in. You might need Real Estate Appraisers, you might need a accountant that can look at, you know, whatever complex cash flow that you have, you may even need a trust attorney who’s going to come in and look at an irrevocable trust or in you know, something that is revocable, but might have strings attached to it, or something that’s a completed gift. All of those come into play.

Bela Musits  6:31  

Yeah, yeah. So is are all of those areas, places in which you assist your clients with.

Marc H. Garelick  6:38 

So we would retain those experts. So we work with generally a team of people that we are familiar with. And depending on what the issue is, we would direct them or have worked with that person to use that expert.

Bela Musits  6:51

Got it.That makes a lot of sense, because I wouldn’t even know where to where to start to begin some of those things. Yes. Yeah. Excellent. So let’s say we pull all that stuff together. And, and then what’s the next step?

Marc H. Garelick  7:09 

Certainly. So number one, the really the first step is filing for a divorce or paternity action or whatever case that you’re in. And there is a waiting period after that person files, where the person then gets to serve a response to that divorce. And it’s California. So there’s really no reason you just get to get divorced, it’s a no fault state. After you do that, there is a disclosure period of time, both parties are absolutely mandatory, they have to do something called a declaration of disclosure. And it means both parties have to disclose their income, their expenses, their assets and their deaths. And we do it in the form. And it can be as simple or as complicated as the estate is. And generally from there, you can determine either, hey, we need to do a lot of discovery here, or we need to work up a case we need to hire all you know, expert, a, b and c to get your case done. And or we could say hey, let’s skip the nonsense. It’s not that complicated. Let’s get to a settlement conference or mediation and get get this done. And California has a six month waiting period to get divorced. And all that means is that it will take six months from the date that you file your petition until a judge will stamp your judgment to say that you are divorced. What that doesn’t mean though, is that you could have all of those things done on the same day, file your petition, they file the response, you do the disclosures, you sign the judgments, and then you’re just holding on to it for six months. So a lot of times you’ll see like in the news, you’ll see celebrities, and it’s like they magically announced they’re getting divorced. And the next day, it’s all done and signed, sealed and delivered. Well, they’ve been talking about it for quite some time in that circumstance. And it’s usually just they wait until that six month day and then all the paperwork happens at once.

Bela Musits  8:54  

Yeah, yeah. And let’s say you can’t come to an agreement with the person that you’re divorced, divorcing. What, what’s the road? You go down then?

Marc H. Garelick  9:06 

Yeah, so we kind of talked about the initial steps. And really the biggest road then is going to be discovery. Because if you can’t come to an agreement or come to an agreement quickly, that means that some discovery is going to need to happen, where everyone can determine what’s their, what the value is, what their contentions are, what the other person’s contentions are, and how they deal with it. And while that’s all happening, there might be a need for we say interim orders. So one side or both sides will file a motion and we call it request for orders in family court, asking for temporary support or temporary custody orders or a request for attorneys fees, or some initial discovery orders to compel somebody to produce something. All of those things kind of happen along that timeline until you get to a point where everyone says, we can’t resolve it. I have everything I need. It’s time to go to trial in this case, and that can happen quickly, or that can take years, and I just had a case that it took 12 years to get to that trial. Wow. So it can be a very long extended process, especially if there are large assets that are increasing and decreasing in value quickly. Or there’s cash flow where it moves up and down with regularity, or all, you know, based off of commissions or sales of the economy or some other factor, it can take time to really narrow down the issues, figure out what the disagreement is, and then get in a place where both sides are ready to proceed with a trial.

Bela Musits  10:37 

Yeah. And when you say trial, is that just in front of a judge? Or is that, you know, the traditional thing that people think about a trial with a jury and stuff like that?

Marc H. Garelick  10:46  

No, it’s not Matlock, it’s it’s in front of it, it’s in front of a judge. And all family law with maybe one very minor exception is Judge led and ruled upon some counties treated differently than others counties. So for instance, orange and LA County are a good example. LA County has something called a master calendar. And that means that you will be assigned a judge at the beginning of the case, that Judge will deal with all of your temporary issues. And then if that judge determines that you are a long cost case and are complicated, they send you down to the supervising judge who says, Okay, your rights, and they send you to a new judge, that’s going to be your trial judge. And then, you know, versus Orange County where that Judge kind of follows you along. And he’s the one who will handle your case throughout the entirety of it. Unless he transfers or go somewhere, but you’re you’re with that judge?

Bela Musits  11:39 

Yeah, yeah. So even in a state, county to county, the way it works can vary. It sounds like, absolutely. Yeah. That makes it nice and simple, doesn’t it?

Marc H. Garelick  11:50  

It does. And you know, anybody out there looking for a family law attorney? They’re going to be looking for at least some experience that that lawyer has in that county. Yeah, exactly. complex case, you’re looking for someone who can has the experience to handle a complex case. And then maybe has the ability to practice in, you know, I, I’m based out of Orange County, but I have experience in Santa Clara and Alameda County and other procedures, so they want to have some connection to another county, otherwise, you’re kind of lost in their procedure and how they do it differently.

Bela Musits  12:22

Yeah, I wasn’t aware of that, that it’s it can be family law varies county to county. Now, is that true in most states in the United States? Or is that just sort of a California specialty.

Marc H. Garelick  12:36

So most heavily populated states, I believe, have issues. The California is a pretty unique family law jurisdiction. A lot of it’s because of the nature of the cases that happen here being celebrity and public interest figures. And then at the same time, it’s community property. And we have what I would consider a liberal child support guideline numbers and factors. So when a court is looking at what are how much child support should be determined, instead of having a set maximum number, like some states like Texas to California, it’s based off of the income of the parties, which is kind of flipping in, its on its head, and there can be a lot more child support order here than in other cases.

Bela Musits  13:22

Yeah, yeah. Interesting. Very interesting. So this seems like a pretty competitive segment of the law. You know, you at least you see lots of advertising on occasion for various different divorce attorneys, etc. What What makes your firm sort of stand out from the other ones?

Marc H. Garelick  13:45

Sure. So you know, I would say that our firm is, is a real firm, meaning that we’re going to have resources to handle a lot of discovery, a lot of complex issues, the ability to deal with them, deal with a multi day trial and know how to put that trial on, versus a lot of family law practitioners who maybe specialize in more straightforward cases, cases that are mediated and have more straightforward assets. And, you know, if you do have those complex issues, you need to be looking at what type of firm you are hiring, not just necessarily a family law, it’s very important to have the expertise that’s needed to put on real litigation.

Bela Musits  14:30

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So how do I how do I figure out whether a law firm has this skill in handling these complex cases? Is there a way to is there a way for me to figure that out as a layperson, you know, dialing up five different law firms to see who’s going to handle my, my divorce.

Marc H. Garelick  14:52 

It’s difficult and I don’t think that there is any easy way to do it. Go to kind of the internet and see what reviews people have. have others and what that firm consists of, and you know how many associates or partners they have. But what I really suggest is that you just meet with a few family law firms out there, because it’s a very personal type of law, you have to feel comfortable with the person, they have to be able to kind of identify your issues and your life, and you have to have confidence that they’ll be able to put on your case and move it forward in the right way. And there are lots of qualified family law attorneys, but maybe they aren’t qualified in handling, you know, a complex, irrevocable trusts where people have been putting their income in the last 20 years, and no one knows how to do it.

Bela Musits  15:40 

Yeah. Yeah, that’s good advice. Because this is clearly, you know, a stressful emotional time for your clients. So having that confidence and trust in the person you’re working with is probably a very important factor in making that decision.

Marc H. Garelick  15:56

Absolutely. And, you know, I would also say, it really depends on who your soon to be ex spouse is, as well, if you have someone who maybe has a personality disorder, which we find to be very common in our area. And they might be incapable of, you know, seeing the world beyond the way they see it, and maybe not reasonable. Yeah, no, you’re going to be in for a fight with that person. And you have to kind of take a look at that right off the bat and say, Okay, I want somebody who is able to understand that knows how to deal with that person, negotiate with that person, or make sure that person faces the consequences that they need to face in order to move your case forward and get it done. Otherwise, you can get stuck really easily and just the the spinning wheel of the judicial system and be around for a long time.

Bela Musits  16:43

Yeah, yeah. So let me ask you a couple of maybe broader questions. What made you go into this area of specialization in the law?

Marc H. Garelick  16:54 

So, you know, I come from a family of accountants, tax attorneys. So I think that that was the direction that I was looking for when I was going in to law school. But I had an undergraduate degree in psychology. And I took a family law class in law school that happened to be taught by two very famous judges in LA. And it just sparked that interest. That, you know, this is an area where I can make an impact in actual people’s lives. Yeah, you know, maybe I think people see, divorce is a nasty, ugly business. But I see it more as getting somebody out of a really bad spot, and maybe into a good spot, and helping them and be able to make a difference in not just their lives, kids lives. Maybe how they approach the future. And I think, for me, it’s kind of been the more satisfying type of law out there.

Bela Musits  17:45

Yeah, yeah, that’s a that’s a wonderful answer. And that, that, you know, this is meaningful to you. And that’s great. Because, right, everyone talks about having a career or a job that has meaning to you, personally. And so you get satisfaction out of this. And that’s wonderful. What, when you got out of law school, did you join this firm right away? Or were you at another firm and then found your niche someplace else?

Marc H. Garelick  18:14  

So actually, I started as a law clerk at this firm. Okay, wow. It’s been some time. And, you know, when you’re coming out of law school, when you don’t know what area of law to do, it’s always good to be a law clerk, a clerk someplace or in an office someplace to see what it’s like. And, you know, it’s a good way in being a gateway to get a job into family law. There is a huge, huge need for family law lawyers, especially in California. It’s a very underserved market, very underserved population. And, you know, there is just a need for people who can understand it and appreciate it and have the rights, personality and, and aspects to handle family law. So if you’re interested in family law, there are a lot of opportunities out there.

Bela Musits  19:00

Yeah. So being a layperson, I’ve heard the term law clerk many times, but I’m not sure I know what it means. What does a law clerk mean?

Marc H. Garelick  19:08 

So think, like someone who is in law school hasn’t yet passed, the bar is on the path to passing bar. And, you know, is working in a law firm, not doing necessarily legal advice, but working in maybe drafting some paperwork, or maybe handling some discovery components of it, so they can get a feel of what it’s like to work in that type of office.

Bela Musits  19:32

Got it? Got it. All right. That’s it. I understand it now. Thank you. So we’re, how do you guys how do how do you guys find your clients? How does how does that work?

Marc H. Garelick  19:46

Generally, it’s it’s referral based. I think, you know, reputations important? Yeah. You know, I hope I put out the right reputation out there in the world. And really, I would tell you, it’s more of a Whether the client is the right fit for the firm, we’re certainly not cheap. We certainly don’t handle kind of your everyday Family Law matter. So I don’t want you to retain us unless we are the right firm for you to retain and the right firm to handle your case. If people come to us, and I think it’s not that complex, I’ll let them know my thoughts of where I think their case should go. And I have a various list of attorneys who I think are great and and can handle it.

Bela Musits  20:29 

Excellent. Excellent. That makes a lot of sense. So during your career, you know, once you pass the bar, you start practicing. What was there like a turning point there where, you know, one day, you know, you said to yourself, boy, did I make the right decision? This is really great.

Marc H. Garelick  20:45

Yeah, I think there was so our senior partner, her name is Lisa Meyer, she is an absolutely amazing attorney in many aspects. And she asked me, as I think I was a law clerk fitting in, to sit in a deposition and kind of help her out. And really, it was just me, kind of making sure the exhibits were right. And handling the, you know, passing the exhibits, in the notes over to her maybe there was a question that I thought she should ask. And I sat there, and I listened to her for eight hours. And it was probably the most impressive way of being able to get information out of the other side in that deposition, to advantage the client, and to really, you know, move a case along in a way that, you know, I had no idea someone could ask questions like that. And I think that was I was hooked after that, and seeing her kind of inaction and doing those things. 

Bela Musits  21:37 

Yeah. Well, it sounds like she was a great role model as well. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. So where can our listeners find out more about your firm and how to contact you guys?

Marc H. Garelick  21:48

Sure, they can check out our website, it’s Or they can give our office a call if they’re interested in meeting and our number is 949-397-3977.

Bela Musits  22:04 

Great, I will make sure all that information is in the show notes. Marc, is there something that I have not asked you that I should have or something additional you’d like to share with our listeners?

Marc H. Garelick  22:17 

No, I just think that, you know, is, I think a word of advice out there to people who may be getting divorced or thinking about getting a divorce. A lot of what makes a divorce complicated is when a person doesn’t know what’s going on in their own life. And so the best advice I can give to somebody who’s thinking about it, or is concerned that the other party might be doing it is to get educated. Understand what your finances are, understand your situation, understand how things are done. So when you do get into this situation, and it’s happening, you’re prepared.

Bela Musits  22:49  

Well, that’s a great way of wrapping up this podcast. Marc, thank you so much for being a great guest on the podcast. I really enjoyed our conversation.

Marc H. Garelick  22:57

Thank you for having me.

Outro  23:00

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