Manhattan Beach Family Law | Orange County Family Law Attorney

John J. Gilligan, CFLS

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John J. Gilligan, CFLS is a certified by the State Bar of California as a certified family law specialist.. He is also a founding partner of Brandmeyer Gilligan & Dockstader, LLP.  John also has been involved in probate litigation and estate planning.  John has been practicing family law in Long Beach since 1981.  

Mr. Gilligan graduated cum laude and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from State University of New York at Brockport, and obtained his Juris Doctorate from Western State University.

Mr. Gilligan is certified by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization, as a certified family law specialist since 1997. Only 10% of California’s family law attorneys have earned this additional education and title.

Honors and Awards
Mr. Gilligan has been named every year to Southern California Super Lawyers since 2009 and is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

Professional Activities
Since 1985, Mr. Gilligan has served as Judge Pro Tem in the Superior Court for family law and domestic violence matters. He is certified to serve as a Superior Court Mediator, having received his mediation credential from Pepperdine Law School. He is also qualified for service as Court-Appointed Minor’s Counsel. Mr. Gilligan has been a member of the American Bar Association, Los Angeles and Orange Bar Associations, Irish-American Bar Association, Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Association and Orange County Trial Lawyers Association. He is also on the Executive Committee of the Family Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (2013-2016). Mr. Gilligan has lectured extensively on family law matters, authored numerous articles focusing on legal issues that stem from divorce and is the author of four Court of Appeal published opinions.

Representative Cases
In re Marriage of Willard (1981) 15 B.R. 898
In re Raiton v, G & R Properties (1992) 139 B.R. 931
In re Marriage of Cordero (2002) 95 Cal.App.4th 653
In re Marriage of Lucio (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 1068

Published Works
Quoted in the article, “Costly Divorce Heads into the Ninth Inning with Dodgers’ Sale”
by Penny Arevalo regarding the McCourt Divorce (November 7, 2011)
The Need for a Legal Expert in Dividing and Distributing your Pension Upon Death or Divorce
Post Divorce Life
Which Spouse Should Get the Family Residence Following Divorce


"Anyone experiencing legal issues regarding a dissolution of marriage, custody, child support and/or alimony, knows regardless of what part or end you play in the situation it is a difficult one. In my particular case, two of the four aforementioned legal issues were applicable and had to be resolved. During my initial consultation with John Gilligan he was forthright and openly honest regarding my opportunities and risks. As it turn out we won on every issue relating to custody and child support, if winning is what you want to call it. My best advice is to be prepared with all supporting documentation to support your case. Any attorney is only as good as the information you provide them with, which will in turn give the attorney a basis for the best legal action and approach to the resolution. It will also save you money throughout the experience! John will control the controllable, but you must understand he cannot control the court calendar! Frankly, no one can, but the court. Remember, the opposition has the same problem! Unfortunately, that can cause unforeseen cost and expenses. Once again, John made me well aware of this issue too. There is a high probability that any projected cost you may consider will be more than anticipated. In addition, John will support you, but will emphasize not to use him as a therapist. Stay on point and remember he is there to go shoulder to shoulder with you in an effort to resolve your legal issues. John is an upfront and honest guy who will have you and your child(ren) best interest at the forefront of the resolution. Great attorney and firm!"

- M.L..

"As an Asian American not used to meeting those outside my immediate environment, but Mr. Gilligan immediately put me at ease, answered all of my questions, and served me very well throughout the entire process. His staff is equally friendly and helpful. Because some of my assets were in Asia, the case required extra attention, but Mr. Gilligan knew how to calculate everything, and I got a much better settlement than my previous attorney tried to get me to accept. Mr. Gilligan always informed me about the progress of the case and kept me calm during the court proceedings.  Mr. Gilligan knew how to handle my ex's very difficult lawyer, and with a little effort, encouraged him to settle. I was not disappointed!  I have referred two others to his office since my case was finalized.  I recommend Mr. Gilligan to anyone who needs expert advice!"

- A.Y.

"John Gilligan's knowledge gave me a sense of confidence and I was satisfied with the end result. He represented me in a way that was assertive or dogmatic, really sticking to his guns. Thank you, John."

- R.L.

"I was referred to John Gilligan when I wanted to file for divorce in January 2013. Throughout the entire process John was very honest, timely, responsive, and always kept me up to date in the proceedings. All of these things added up to me feeling safe and taken care of as I went through one of the hardest times in my life.

Beyond even the above factors, John helped me when I felt out of control with the process, directed me on how to handle custody and co-parenting problems that arose, and answered any and all questions that I had.

All of this led to me having my children 80% of the time, getting a fair child support and spousal support judgement, and a wage assignment so that I didn't have to worry about financial abuse or how I was going to take care of my children.

Although going through a divorce is rarely pleasant, John made the process the very best that it could be. I've recommended him to several acquaintances and I can't speak highly enough about his services and ability. "

- H.

"I highly recommend John Gilligan as family law attorney from Brandmeyer, Gilligan & Dockstader, LLP. I found through this experience that Mr. Gilligan is definitely someone you can trust! The moment I entered his office to obtain legal representation for my custody case, Mr. Gilligan has been truly professional, understanding and supportive in such a difficult case in obtaining sole physical and legal custody of my two children ages 12 and 14. Throughout this very difficult ordeal, my children and I experienced a huge amount of emotional distress but having Mr. Gilligan as my attorney made all the difference, I felt confident and assured that the decision would be in our favor. I cannot emphasize how grateful I am to Mr. Gilligan and his staff for all the professional work done in my case. I have a huge sense of relief and peace knowing that my children are now safe under my care."

- Mrs. Garcia

"When I met John ,almost 25 years ago he had a successful family practice. But John did not sit on that success. With his experience and training the State bar certified him as a" family law specialist". I would not go to family court without John J Gilligan. If you have any doubts about using him , or questions contact me at"

- F.D.C.

"I was very happy with the results of my case. Going in, I knew it would be a tough, and emotional battle, but I had trust in my attorneys. They listened to the end result I wanted, and were creative, and worked hard to obtain the result I wanted. I am grateful and happy with my results!"

- S.T.

"I was very fortunate to find BGD Lawyers when seeking to lower my spousal support after retirement. My previous attempt was with a attorney located in Seal Beach who's specialty was spousal support. Needless to say, after retainer was paid, communication became very poor and some of his comments to me was very unprofessional and was asked to withdraw. Events changed when I interviewed John Gilligan at BGD Lawyers in Long Beach. His concern right from the start was apparent. After showing him some legal documents he entered the info into the computer and showed me I was paying too much. The process went smoothly with communication always there. My support was dramatically reduced to a more comfortable amount. Mr Gilligan's dedication and professionalism was top notch and I'm extremely grateful to him and the staff at BGD Lawyers in their handling of my case"

- E.L.

Back to Team Brian K. Brandmeyer John J. Gilligan Janet E. Dockstader Wendy K. Tse Janine M. Frisco Michael Sarris Janine M. Frisco Michael Sarris
John J. Gilligan | Long Beach Family Law Attorney | Irvine, California

More Testimonials

"I had several meetings with John before we filed. Each time I felt more assured and prepared. After being married 19 years, I wanted to exit my marriage with little fighting and haggling. John was so matter of fact and concise, he laid out the strategy and plan and allowed my three kids and myself to reach the finish line. I would be pleased and I have already recommended him to others."

- A. B.

"John was recommended to me by my ex-coworker in American Honda. I hired him to handle my divorce in 2005 and hired him again in 2014. Recently, he represented me in court and handled my defense when my Ex wanted a reimbursement of his child support. In both cases, my Ex-husband hated him! John is a genius. His level of intelligence, talent and knowledge are remarkable! He knows family law inside out while eating peanuts. He will defend you fearlessly and will make sure your case wins. You will be happy with the results. Without John, I probably would not have my kids, child support, and peace of mind. He paved the way for me to have a fresh start in life after a traumatic divorce. Now, after 8 years, I have remarried and happy. I have moved on. Thanks to an excellent lawyer named John Joseph Gilligan!"

- E. H.

"John Gilligan is professional, ethical and astute. I regard him very highly. I would not hesitate to recommend him and have already done so."

- Ms. B.

"My ex-husband and I initially hired a single attorney to handle our divorce. I soon began to question if this was a wise decision. I contacted the California State Bar for a Family Law attorney recommendation and they suggested I call John Gilligan. John took my call right away and spent a substantial amount of time on the phone with me answering all of my questions. Not only was John instrumental in the negotiating process, but he made me feel comfortable and safe (even when my ex-husband did not). The outcome would have been completely different. I don't think I would have been able to keep my home without John's help. Thank you, John."

- C.K.

"John Gilligan was the strength and clear-minded thinking I needed when I had none. He walked me through every step of my divorce like a father. His knowledge of the law and years of experience were instrumental in achieving the best end result of my case. I am grateful."

- M.W.

"Before I met John Gilligan, I felt completely overwhelmed. I was fearful that my business savvy ex would walk all over me throughout the divorce process because of my lack of financial knowledge. John, and his amazingly responsive and diligent team, protected my best interests every step of the way. John made sure that all of my real estate and business assets were fairly valued and helped me to stay strong and fight for what is fair. I am extremely grateful for John's wisdom and tenacity for getting me through an incredibly difficult time. I am also especially thankful that we were able to avoid the stress of litigation by going through the collaborative divorce process, an area of John's expertise. I felt a lot safer knowing that my ex and I had agreed to work with our lawyers to reach a fair settlement without going to court."

- K.S.

"John Gilligan represented me in my divorce. It was a very difficult case and we needed to go to trial. John did an incredible job in representing me against a very worthy opponent. Not only is John a superb advocate, he had what I was looking for and which most lawyers do not possess: kindness and wisdom. All I could say, is that he got me through a very difficult time in my life - and eased the burden both emotionally and financially. Thank you John!"

- H.D.

"Divorce is a painful and emotional process, even years later you may end up with changes that need attention. I cannot say enough about how happy I am with the services provided by John Gilligan and staff. Mr. Gilligan handled my divorce in 2004 and it was handled extremely efficiently and attention was paid to what was important, the minor child. Fast forward to 2016, a need to modify the original divorce was required. The only call I needed to make was to John Gilligan. I completely respect and trust John's judgement. In less than a month the changes were made, signed by the judge and copies to both parties completed. And exactly what John estimated on the cost."

- B.S.