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Julia M. Garwood • Certified Family Law Specialist

Certified Family Law Specialist


Julia Garwood, Certified Family Law Specialist

Certified Family Law Specialist In the legal profession since 1981, Julia Garwood became a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in 1995. This prestigious designation means that she has met the rigorous standards set by the California State Bar for education, experience, and knowledge in the field of family law. Ms. Garwood has been a member of the San Diego County Bar Association for over 30 years and served on the organization’s Executive Committee for Family Law Specialists since 2000. The CFLS Executive Committee of the SDCBA is very active in the San Diego family law community. Among other activities, the CFLS Executive Committee hosts seminars throughout the year to educate attorneys and other professionals in the field about new Court rules and policy changes that affect the family law community and litigants.  These seminars provide continuing education on topics such as pleading, drafting, and discovery, that help attorneys service their clients effectively. Ms. Garwood has spoken as a panelist at these seminars, where she has shared her expertise in the areas of Prenuptial Agreements and Family Law Orders. She has also previously organized and hosted the annual CFLS retreat and Winter Seminar.

Certified Family Law Specialists

What is a Certified Family Law Specialist?

The State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization grants a special certification status to qualified lawyers in the practice of family law.  These lawyers—Certified Family Law Specialists—have a minimum of five years experience in practicing law, and have proven expertise in all areas of California family law, including divorce, annulment, property division, child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, domestic violence, tax consequences of divorce, and more. Out of almost 200,000 lawyers in California¹, approximately only 1,200 have been certified as family law specialists.² In San Diego County, there are approximately 178 Certified Family Law Specialists.³ This small percentage is set apart by a high level of experience, the passing of a written examination in their specialty field, concentrated ongoing legal education, and favorable peer recognition.

The Standards for Certification: A Closer Look

Certified Family Law Specialists must have successfully completed a written examination in their specialty field–this test is often thought of as a one-day “mini bar” exam covering only family law. They must also demonstrate substantial experience in their field, such as having participated in a minimum number of trials, hearings, settlements, stipulations, and mediations. Attorneys who apply to be certified specialists must complete over 45 hours of compulsory continuing family law education over a three-year period, as opposed to the 25 hours required by non-specialist lawyers. In addition to these requisites, Certified Family Law Specialists must also be positively reviewed by other attorneys and judges who are familiar with their work. The State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization has made the arduous task of choosing a lawyer that much simpler, by requiring specialists adhere to superior standards of excellence, experience, and education. By selecting a Certified Family Law Specialist, you are guaranteed a better trained, more qualified attorney to represent you in difficult and delicate family situations. Certified Family Law Specialist must prove significant, actual experience in the following areas:

  • Restraining orders/domestic violence proceedings
  • Dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or nullity of marriage litigation
  • Custody of children
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Modification of support
  • Division of community property
  • Confirmation of separate property
  • Taxation issues incident to dissolution of marriage
  • Contempt and/or enforcement proceedings
  • Mediation and/or negotiation of family law disputes
  • Psychological and counseling aspects of dissolution of marriage

For more information on the formal requirements to become a certified family law specialist, read the THE STANDARDS FOR CERTIFICATION AND RECERTIFICATION IN FAMILY LAW from The State Bar of California website. ¹ The State Bar of California, Member Demographics. ² The State Bar of California, Certified Family Law Specialists in California. ³ The State Bar of California, Certified Family Law Specialists in San Diego County.



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