Contested Divorce

Cooperative Divorce


Mark J. McGowan, Esq.

Your advocate for the complex legal matters surrounding divorce and legal separation of married couples and domestic partnerships including:

  • Divorce litigation
  • Divorce mediation
  • Division of assets and debts
  • Spousal support and alimony
  • Child support, custody and visitation
  • Prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements
  • Restraining orders

Dear Mark,

You have been my go to person for the last 4+ years in my domestic partner situation. The last several months you have given me advices that I was sometimes reluctant to take. Fortunately I followed your advice and it saved me a great deal of money I had expected to have to pay.

Your professional expertise I am sure I will seek in the future.

My sincere thank you for your work on my part.

Yours truly,

Peggy Marshall

 Divorce Attorney Mark J. McGowan

Tough, Diligent Divorce Litigation

Fair, Experienced Divorce Mediation

Divorce can be highly contested, emotionally charged, difficult and wearing, especially if you lack a professional fighting for your rights. There are several options for married couples in California who are considering a dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership:

  • Contested Divorce: We aggressively represent you and defend your interests and rights.
  • Cooperative Divorce: Where spouses are able to reach full agreement between themselves, we impartially arrange and memorialize that agreement in an easily understandable, legally binding set of documents, sparing you both the financial and emotional costs of litigation and/or court appearances.
  • Divorce Mediation: Spouses who do not agree on issues may try to reach agreement through mediation, with or without their own counsel. In this process Mr. McGowan impartially works toward parties’ reaching their own acceptable terms, rather than fighting in court to have terms imposed upon them by a judge. In this capacity, Mr. McGowan does not favor either side, nor can he thereafter represent either side against the other. He does not impose his own ruling. Instead he strives to guide parties to reach their own acceptable terms and conditions in an agreement. In fact, Mr. McGowan serves as a mediator for our local Civil Court every month. Should this effort not resolve all issues, the spouses may still avail themselves to contested hearings in court regarding matters of disagreement.
  • Legal Separation: A legal separation helps to ensure that your finances and liabilities become separate and remain separate in the eyes of the law while still keeping intact many additional benefits of marriage.

The Law Offices of Mark J. McGowan provides fair, diligent, and firm legal representation in each of these capacities.

Collaborative Divorce Resolution

In the family law area, The Law Offices of Mark J. McGowan, PC has tailored its practice to help divorcing parties settle disagreements by negotiation rather than litigation. One method to accomplish this goal is for clients to use a process called Collaborative Resolution.

In a collaborative divorce resolution, both you and your spouse will choose your own divorce lawyer. Both you and your spouse, and each of your respective lawyers will sign a contract where everyone commits to resolving the issues surrounding the dissolution of the marriage without going to court. If agreements can’t be reached during the collaborative divorce process and you and your spouse must go to court, neither of your collaborative divorce lawyers can represent their parties in the litigation.

Some of the primary reasons couples choose collaborative divorce are:

  • Lower cost than divorce litigation process, statistically.
  • Tailored divorce settlement that meets their unique needs.
  • Reduced emotional impact on the couple and the family.

Cooperative Divorce Resolution Through Divorce Mediation

Another way that divorcing parties can settle disagreements by negotiation rather than litigation is through mediation. In the process of mediation, a couple works with a single attorney in the position of a neutral mediator, whose role it is to guide your discussion, explore settlement alternatives and resolve difficult conflicts. Mark McGowan is an experienced mediator who in fact is selected monthly to help our local court on an ongoing basis by mediating cases.

When you hire Mark J. McGowan as your divorce mediator, you and your spouse will meet with Mark in private mediation session(s). Mark will guide you through discussions to uncover and resolve the essential points of agreement for the dissolution of the marriage. You will exchange necessary information and ideas about various ways to settle your differences. Acting as an unbiased mediator, Mark will inform you of the law as it pertains to your situation, including property division and the calculation of child and spousal support. This process allows you and your spouse to make the decisions together, rather than attorneys arguing your case in court before a judge.

Some of the primary reasons couples choose mediation are:

  • Access to legal information from a single, neutral, non-adversarial attorney.
  • A lower cost alternative to litigation. 
  • Allows couple to more easily arrive at parenting plan that is in everyone’s best interest, especially the child(ren)’s.
  • Court appearances can be avoided.
  • Reduces emotional turmoil and hostility typically involved in a divorce since both parties have direct involvement and reaching agreements together.
  • Because their are no court dates, court proceedings or long drawn out arguments between feuding parties, divorce via mediation allows the couple to set their own, typically faster pace.

Contested Divorce: Divorce Litigation & Representation to Protect Your Assets and Rights

When divorcing spouses cannot agree and a divorce proceeds to court, it is important to protect your rights and work with a divorce attorney you can trust.

Acting as your divorce attorney, The Law Offices of Mark J. McGowan, PC will begin an immediate investigation to collect documentation concerning your estate, your spouse’s income, business assets and other investments you may have.

We will seek to identify any potential hidden assets so that your spouse does not prevent you from receiving the marital property to which you are entitled to at the time of divorce. In addition to identifying your assets, we will also assess your debts and tax liabilities to protect you against any unexpected personal liability.

The Law Offices of Mark J. McGowan, PC is experienced with division of marital property and disputes involving:

  • Real Estate
  • Vacation Homes
  • Retirement Funds
  • Business Assets
  • Self Employed Business Owner
  • Tax Disputes
  • Hidden Assets
  • Credit Card Debt

Protection of Real Estate and Business Assets During Divorce

At the time of divorce, couples with business investments may face additional legal challenges especially if that company is a professional practice. Divorce attorney Mark J. McGowan is experienced in representing business owners and spouses seeking to protect their interests and investments at the time of divorce. The Law Offices of Mark J. McGowan, PC will use accountants and other professional experts as needed to properly value your business. Our goal will be to enable you to collect the community property to which you are entitled at the time of divorce.

Division of real estate can present a number of issues at the time of divorce. Whether you want to sell the property, defer a sale, or protect your investments in real estate, divorce attorney Mark J. McGowan and the The Law Offices of Mark J. McGowan, PC can help you protect your financial interests at the time of divorce.

Legal Separation

Some couples choose legal separation as an alternative to divorce or domestic partnership dissolution. More binding than a verbal agreement, a legal separation permits a married couple or domestic partners to live separately, and to make legally binding arrangements for matters such as division of property, custody,  child support, and alimony, while still maintaining their marital status and any related benefits.

Under the California Family Code, there are some key differences between a legal separation and a divorce that are appealing to many couples. Most notably, a legal separation:

  • Does not end the marriage.
  • Ensures that your finances and liabilities remain separate in the eyes of the law.
  • Does not allow either party to marry another person.
  • Can be converted into a divorce at a future date.
  • Can be reversed.
  • Has no residence requirements.
  • Allows the spouse or partner to request court orders, such as domestic restraining order for protection against abusive spouse or partner.
  • Has no waiting period. Unlike divorce that requires a six-month and one-day waiting period before the court issues the final judgment, a legal separation has no waiting period and takes effect as soon as the court grants the separation.

There are many reasons why spouses want to legally separate but not want to get legally divorced. Marriage provides certain advantages, and couples may choose a legal separation over divorce for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Religious reasons: Adherence to religious practices to maintain a married status.
  • Tax advantages: Joint tax returns, spousal support deductions, gift tax exemptions, estate tax avoidance, mortgage credits for first time buyers and home sale tax breaks.
  • A trial period: A couple may also want to try a “temporary” separation while they are considering ending their marriage permanently.
  • Insurance advantages: Continued family rates for auto, home, health, and other insurance coverage. Social Security retirement benefits: Spouses married ten years qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.
  • Veterans or military pension benefits: Spouses married ten years qualify for military pension benefits.
  • Public assistance benefits: Greater public assistance benefits for food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), subsidized housing, MediCal, subsidized child care and Supplemental Feeding Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

The Law Offices of Mark J. McGowan, PC will work with you to make decisions that will allow you to feel satisfied with the terms of your separation agreement. If you’ve found yourself in need an experienced divorce attorney, we are here to help. We look forward to learning more about your unique situation and finding a resolution that works for you and your family.

Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation at 760-340-3332

Contact Us

Call for your free consultation with attorney Mark J. McGowan today by calling our Palm Desert offices at 760-340-3332 or completing the contact form below:

Visit Our Palm Desert Office

72-630 Fred Waring, Suite 201
Palm Desert, CA 92260

Located on west side of Fred Waring between Monterey and Hwy 111. Look for our signs on any side of the building and take the elevator to the second floor. We look forward to meeting you.

Proudly serving the Coachella Valley communities of Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Bermuda Dunes, Desert Hot Springs, Thousand Palms, Coachella, Thermal, and beyond since 1987. El abogado habla español.