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John Sylvester

John Sylvester-1-1-1

Experience & Education

John Sylvester is a San Diego family law appeals attorney practicing primarily in appeals and writs, trial litigation, and neutral mediation. He is a Certified Family Law Specialist by the State Bar of California.

John received his B.A. in English Literature from San Francisco State University. He received his juris doctor from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude. John was an editor for the Thomas Jefferson Law Review. He was instrumental in co-founding the school's first Family Law Self-Help Clinic. He served as President of the School's Family Law Society. John volunteers his time with the Family Violence Appellate Project and the Access to Appellate Justice Program, bringing appeals on behalf of survivors of domestic violence and indigent appellants. 

Areas of Specialization

In the practice of family law, John wears many hats. In his appellate practice, he has acted as lead appellate attorney on several family law and civil appeals, including several successful full or partial reversals of erroneous trial court decisions and several published cases. In his trial practice, he handles complex litigation including hundreds of family law cases in the areas of dissolution, legal separation, nullity, domestic violence restraining orders, child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, community and separate property, and attorney fees and costs. In his neutral mediation practice he offers family law litigants an amicable and affordable alternative to litigation.

John is a member of the State Bar of California and is licensed to practice law before the Superior Court of California, the California Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court of California. He is also licensed to practice in the Ninth Circuit's Central and Southern Federal District Courts of California. He is a member of the San Diego County Bar Association, the San Diego Family Law Bar Association, and the San Diego Appellate Inns of Court, and Association of Certified Family Law Specialists.

Published Appellate Cases

Abdelqader v. Abraham (2022) 76 Cal.App.5th 186 [domestic violence, child custody]

J.H. v. G.H. (2021) 63 Cal.App.5th 633 [domestic violence, child custody]

Balla v. Hall (2021) 59 Cal.App.5th 652 [anti-SLAPP, defamation]

County of San Diego v. P.B. (2020) 55 Cal.App.5th 1058 [child support]


Representative Nonpublished Appellate Cases

In re Marriage of Conner, 2022 Cal.App.Unpub. LEXIS 3100 [child custody]

Sexton v. Valois, 2019 Cal.App.Unpub. LEXIS 5618 [civil harassment restraining order]

Pablo P. v. Maria T. 2019 Cal.App.Unpub. LEXIS 4939 [child custody]

Bohrer v. Carroll 2017 Cal.App.Unpub. LEXIS 7321 [anti-SLAPP, child custody]


Speaking Engagements

Demystifying Family Law Appeals, SDCBA Appellate Practice Section, June 2021

General Discovery—Issues and Pointers, SDVLP Paralegal Program, October 2021


Honors & Awards

Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” Award, 2018–Present  

Avvo “Client’s Choice” Award, 2017–2019

In The Community

In his free time, John enjoys spending time with his family, friends, and lab/pit rescue mix, Roger. His hobbies and interests include road running, trail running, cycling, music, and movies. He has recently completed several ultramarathons, marathons, and half-marathons, and hopes to one day qualify for the Boston Marathon.

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