I am the Managing Partner of
Eleanor Stegmeier and I founded the firm in 1995, after both of us had established our reputations in the Family Law community. Eleanor started practicing in 1978 and I started in 1981. As our firm grew, long-time associates Jason Schwartz and Robert Benavente became partners. Our name now fills a letterhead and we refer to ourselves as SGSB. In 2021, Douglas Hatherley was elevated to the partnership level. Today, we have 10 lawyers on our team as well as a Mediation Center.
Our Mediation Center is the highest quality service of its kind in Orange County and, perhaps, in all of Southern California. Eleanor Stegmeier and Michael Fisher are Fellows in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and both have completed the advanced Mediation courses offered by The Academy and Pepperdine University’s Strauss Institute.
A few years ago we expanded to San Diego with a satellite office. Our business in San Diego is steadily growing and we envision expanding that office in a few years.
Our Orange County office is staffed with 10 lawyers and five Legal Assistants or Paralegals. We are prepared to handle all aspects of Family Law litigation, as we have for many years. We also offer “limited scope” representation, which allows a client to select the type of service that we provide and, if necessary, limit the retainer fees for that service.
Our firm is unique in Orange County as we have four lawyers who are Fellows in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Six lawyers are Board Certified by the State of California as Family Law Specialists. Please feel free to review the credentials and experience of each lawyer in that section of our website devoted to those descriptions.
Again … welcome! If you think that we may be of service, please do not hesitate to call and make an appointment.
Individually and as a firm, the SGSB team has amassed many special distinctions and accolades, including:
- Our firm is annually selected for inclusion in the “Best Law Firms” list published by U.S. News & World Report, ranking our firm in the top tier among the all family law firms in the nation.
- With 10 attorneys, we are one of the largest law firms in Orange County whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law.
- Seven of our 10 attorneys hold the special distinction of Certified Family Law Specialists.
- We are the only family law firm in Southern California with four attorneys (Eleanor Stegmeier, Saul Gelbart, Robert Benavente, and Michael Fisher) who are Fellows of the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
- Two of our partners, Eleanor Stegmeier and Saul Gelbart, are Fellows of the International Academy of Family Lawyers.
- One of our partners, Saul Gelbart, is a Diplomate of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers
- Eleanor Stegmeier, Saul Gelbart, Robert Benavente and Michael Fisher have been named Southern California “Super Lawyers” year after year.
- Saul Gelbart was named “Orange County Family Law Attorney of the Year” for 2017 by Best Lawyers.
- Eleanor Stegmeier, Saul Gelbart, Jason Schwartz and Robert Benavente have been selected for inclusion in “Best Lawyers in America”, published by U.S. News & World Report.
- Eleanor Stegmeier was named “Orange County Family Law Attorney of the Year” in 2010 by Best Lawyers.
Becoming a Client
Your first call to SGSB will be to schedule a consultation with the attorney of your choice. The initial consultation meeting will be very informative and will involve a discussion regarding your rights and obligations as well as an outline of a timeline and procedures which a new client will likely encounter.
Upon retaining SGSB, a dedicated team (consisting of a partner, associate attorney, and paralegal) are assigned to the case. Our team approach ensures the client that we have sufficient resources to handle any case, no matter the size or complexity.
SGSB places great emphasis on being responsive to our clients as they raise questions and concerns during the stressful and uncertain time of their divorce or family law proceeding. Our team approach ensures that at least three members of our firm are familiar with the status and strategic considerations of each client’s case.
The SGSB team quickly develops a strategy for each case that advances and protects the client’s interests. At SGSB, our attorneys are very detail oriented and we routinely involve financial and other experts as necessary to properly strategize and execute our plan for the case.
Negotiation, Then Litigation
SGSB’s attorneys manage a case with goals of efficiency, practicality, and preparedness. We remain settlement-minded and encourage our clients to settle their disputes through negotiation at the outset. SGSB understands that the great financial and emotional toll that is often attendant to litigation warrants the exhaustion of all settlement possibilities before committing to litigation.
Aside from our litigation practice, SGSB has a unique in-house Mediation Center that affords litigants the opportunity to attempt to settle their disputes prior to each side hiring lawyers and committing to litigation.
If all possibilities for settlement are exhausted and litigation becomes the only viable option to resolve the case, SGSB uses all of its resources to develop strong, innovative, and strategic positions for trial.
SGSB’s attorneys are respected among the legal community as aggressive, effective, and successful trial lawyers who litigate their cases with credibility, integrity and reasonableness. As a result, SGSB’s lawyers have earned stellar reputations among judicial officers and court staff.
Eleanor Stegmeier and Saul Gelbart found the firm Stegmeier & Gelbart, LLP.
Stegmeier & Gelbart, LLP moves its office to the South Coast Plaza area of Costa Mesa, California. The firm rapidly grows to eight attorneys exclusively practicing family law.
Saul Gelbart presides as President over the Southern California Chapter of the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Eleanor Stegmeier is named “Best Family Law Attorney in Orange County” by Best Lawyers: published by U.S. News.
Stegmeier & Gelbart, LLP moves its office to Newport Beach, California. The firm grows to 10 attorneys exclusively practicing family law.
Long time associate attorneys, Jason Schwartz and Robert Benavente, are elevated to equity partners with the firm. The firm name changes to “Stegmeier, Gelbart, Schwartz, & Benavente, LLP.”
Stegmeier, Gelbart, Schwartz & Benavente, LLP (“SGSB”) opens a satellite office at the Symphony Towers in downtown San Diego.
SGSB develops a Mediation Center designed to provide the highest quality mediation services in Southern California, with two of our mediation attorneys, Eleanor Stegmeier and Michael Fisher being Fellows of
SGSB moves its Orange County office to a 14,000 square foot suite at the corner of Jamboree Road and MacArthur Boulevard in the Centerpointe Business Complex.
Saul Gelbart is named “Orange County Family Law Attorney of the Year” by Best Lawyers, published by U.S. News & World Report.
Associate attorney Douglas Hatherley is elevated to equity partner with SGSB.