In my youth, I advised clients that a divorce could be an event of little import. After becoming one of the initiated, and with some experience and expertise as a family law attorney, that advice has drastically changed. A divorce can be an event of emotional upheaval, and financial turmoil. It is an event that can have a significant impact upon your relationship with others, as well as your children. I now understand this, and therefore serve to focus legal services upon each case to address these problems, and allow you and your family to be removed from the judicial process as quickly as possible, and thereby enter the healing process as quickly as possible.

The common misconception is that a dissolution of marriage proceeding is a simple “divide by two” process that most laymen can accomplish on their own. It is not. A dissolution of marriage can entail pension rights, deferred compensation benefits, division of stock, stock options, intellectual property rights, and a myriad of other matter. A good attorney must educate his client on how to co-parent, communicate, and otherwise act in the best interests of the child. Counsel must be adept in both temporary and long-term orders dealing with child and spousal support, as well as having access to experts such as forensic accountants and psychologists when their advice is needed. Above all else, one must ensure a bond of trust often with clients who are feeling betrayed or rejected. The goal is to make a client learn how to communicate reasonable expectations to the Court, and in turn, make the court understand and implement those goals.


A legal separation is similar to a dissolution of marriage in many aspects. There still occurs a division of assets and obligations. Support orders, temporary and long-term, are awarded. The major distinction is that there is no termination of marital status. This allows the parties to continue to share medical coverage, social security benefits, and insurance.

Infrequently, for one reason or another, a case may involve issues incapable of settlement. This is true in either a divorce or legal separation. Sometimes it is due to temperament, and more often due to issues such as custody or support in which parties have a good faith dispute. In such contested cases, it is necessary to utilize discovery devices such as depositions, subpoenas, and other procedures to gather data and information. In turn this will cause a protracted, sometimes expensive proceeding. In such cases this office has had experience dealing with the same on both a trial and appellate level. Whether it is against a large firm or solo attorney, the rules remain the same: be calm, be prepared, and be more prepared.

Please set an initial consultation if you have been dwelling on the issues discussed herein. If in the middle of a dissolution and you have doubt, set an appointment to get a second opinion. Any and all matters discussed will be personal, privileged and confidential. At that time I will go into greater detail as to these and other options available to suit your needs and best interests.


An annulment, also known as “nullity of marriage” or “nullity of domestic partnership,” is a judgment from the Court that states your marriage or domestic partnership is not legally valid. A marriage or domestic partnership that is annulled may either be void, meaning that it was never a valid marriage or domestic partnership, or voidable, meaning that it was valid, but is later declared void and no longer valid. . An annulment is expensive, hard to prove, and is rarely used because of those reasons.


At the office of Gary A. Cornwall it is our mission statement and goal to provide a comprehensive array of legal services in divorce, dissolution and related family law matters that will protect the best interests of the client on both a legal and financial basis.

Our staff will take the time, effort and stress out of the process by explaining your rights, the remedies to your particular situation and how to align your expectations with that of the Court. In turn, this may reduce the hostility between the parties, minimize fees and costs, and expedite extracting you from the judicial process.

Unfortunately there are also cases that do not agree with our policy of alternate dispute resolution. There are those cases in which all issues are contested without thought to the cost and expense, or impact it will have on the lives of you and your family. While regretful, our office is trained to respond to these cases as well. With over 30 years of experience in litigation, we can help to traverse the trials and tribulations created in such scenarios as well. All of this shall be explained to you in the initial consultation or should you come in for a second opinion on an ongoing dissolution of marriage or divorce.

Aside from simple or complex divorce proceedings, our office is also equipped to offer services collateral to such matters. We provide services in negotiating and drafting prenuptial, post-nuptial and marital termination agreements, which can often preclude an expensive and emotionally damaging divorce. Legal representation can also be provided in pre or post-judgment modifications of child support and custody, or enforcement where necessary. These and other matters are set forth in greater specificity under our Services section.

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