Carla Hartley, Esq.

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Family Law Attorney in Ventura, CA

Hartley, Maxwell & Castellano
 | 5700 Ralston Street, Suite: 210
Ventura, CA 93003
Phone: 805-232-5808
Fax: 805-639-0500
Selected to Rising Stars: 2017
Licensed Since: 2007
Practice Areas:
  • Family Law (80%),
  • Bankruptcy: Consumer (10%),
  • Personal Injury - General: Plaintiff (10%)
Attorney Profile

A founder of the law firm of Hartley, Maxwell & Castellano - Attorneys at Law, Carla Hartley, Esq. represents her clients throughout the counties of Ventura and Santa Barbara, California. Her legal focus is in the area of family law, and she represents people in cases involving divorce, child custody, spousal support, property division, child support, adoption, elder abuse, domestic partnership, and same-sex marriage and divorce. Her personal military experience also gives her an edge in understanding military divorce, veteran affairs and Hague Convention cases.

Ms. Hartley is one of the few attorneys who has truly worked her way through almost every position in a law firm. She began as a receptionist and was a clerk before attending law school and gaining her degree. Ms. Hartley graduated with her Bachelor of Arts from The University of New Mexico. She later attended the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law, graduating with her Juris Doctor in 2007. She is admitted to practice law throughout the state of California.

A former Marine, Ms. Hartley brings a conscientious approach to the way she represents her clients in their family law disputes. Her diligence has been noticed, earning her a rating of "Superb" through Avvo, which represents a peer reviewed estimation of her skills and integrity. She has been named a California Top Lawyer by The Legal Network for the years 2013-2015. Ms. Hartley holds membership in multiple organizations, including the Christian Law Association, the Ventura County Bar Association, as well as the Christian Legal Society. She is additionally a founding board member of the Ventura Teen Legal Clinic, Inc.

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Practice Areas
Lawyer Practice Area Pie Chart

Family Law (80%): Adoption, Alimony & Spousal Support, Child Support, Custody & Visitation, Dissolution, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Law, Name Change, Paternity, Prenuptial Agreements, Marital Property, Mediation & Collaborative Law, Same Sex Family Law, Father's Rights

Bankruptcy (10%): Bankruptcy Law

Personal Injury - General (10%): Assault, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death, Sexual Abuse - Plaintiff

Focus Areas

Adoption, Alimony & Spousal Support, Child Support, Custody & Visitation, Dissolution, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Law, Name Change, Paternity, Prenuptial Agreements, Marital Property, Mediation & Collaborative Law, Same Sex Family Law, Father's Rights, Bankruptcy Law, Assault, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death, Sexual Abuse - Plaintiff


top-imageSelected to Rising Stars for 1 years

Rising Stars: 2017

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About Carla Hartley, Esq.

Admitted: 2007, California

Professional Webpage:


  • Top 100 Family Law Attorneys in California, American Society of Legal Advocates, 2018
  • Top 10% of Attorneys in America, Lawyers of Distinction, 2018
  • Honors, Trademark Women of Distinction, 2017
  • Rising Star, Super Lawyers, 2017
  • California Top Lawyer, The LEGAL NETWORK, 2017
  • Top 100 Lawyers, The National Advocate, 2016
  • California Top Lawyer, The Legal Network, 2016
  • California Top Lawyer, The Legal Network, 2015
  • California Top Lawyer, The LEGAL NETWORK, 2014
  • California Top Lawyer, The LEGAL NETWORK, 2013
  • High Honors, Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law, Santa Barbara, California, 2006
  • United States Marine Corps, with decorations, U.S. Marine Corps

Special Licenses/Certifications:

  • United States Marine Corps - Sergeant, 1984

Bar/Professional Activity:

  • Ventura County Bar Association, 2018
  • Adjunct Professor, Ventura Colleges of Law, Advanced Legal Writing, 2018
  • Christian Legal Society Member, 2018
  • Alumni Council, Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law, 2018
  • Ventura County Family Law Bar, 2018
  • State Bar of California, 2018
  • Adjunct Professor, Ventura College of Law, Advanced Legal Writing., 2017
  • Adjunct Professor, Ventura College of Law, Advanced Legal Writing, 2016
  • Adjunct Professor, Ventura College of Law, Advanced Legal Writing, 2015
  • Handel on the Law member, 2008

Pro bono/Community Service:

  • A Church in Ventura member, 2008
  • Ventura Teen Legal Clinic (Founding Board Member), 2008

Scholarly Lectures/Writings:


  • After the video was shown, the parties reached a settlement very favorable to my client. He received a date certain for termination of spousal support. Description: Opposing party alleged that she was unable to work, based on various medical diagnoses she claimed to have had. My client was the high wage earner. She wanted very high spousal support until my client retired, as this was a marriage of long duration.Opposing party came to court each day with a walker, and had convinced a vocational evaluator and her own doctor she could not work - could not stand, sit, walk, climb stairs, do fine manipulations, lift anything and so forth. On the fifth day of trial, we presented video gathered over the course of several months showing her exercising vigorously, shopping for extended periods, climbing stairs, etc. After the video was shown to the Court, she never brought her walker back into the Courthouse., 2013
  • Service accomplished according to Hague requirements. Opposing party was charged with the value of the assets taken. My client received the former family residence as her sole and separate property. Description:Opposing party skipped the Country with all assets except the paid off former family residence., 2013
  • Out of state case was dismissed. Case in California stayed alive.Client received joint legal, sole physical custody, visitation to opposing party was limited, and support was based on California law. Description:Client returned to California from military post in another state, with children. Opposing party filed for dissolution in the other state; our client filed for dissolution with children here in California. Opposing party tried to evade service but with assistance of JAG, we were able to accomplish service and show opposing party had been transferred to California., 2013
  • Father has sole legal and sole physical custody; Mother has only supervised telephone visitation. Description:Father hired us after Mother took the parties' two children and fled with them to another country. Working with the District Attorney's office under the Hague Convention, we recovered the children and had them returned to Father., 2011
  • After a contested trial, our client obtained a 5-year domestic violence restraining order against opposing party, and the Court granted her sole legal and sole physical custody of the minor children. Description:Our client had been in a relationship with opposing party for a few years, and had two small children with him. After the birth of the first child he started tormenting her, physically harming her in many instances. She got the courage to leave him, and to hire an attorney to protect herself and her children., 2011
  • Sole legal, sole physical custody to Dad, with a NICE spousal and child support award payable by Mom to Dad. Description:Our client was a stay-at-home dad of three very young children whom Wife had nominated as Father of the Year the previous summer. When my client filed for divorce, opposing party engineered a domestic violence incident and accused our client of child molestation, which resulted in our client losing custody of these three children for several months. The trial over the restraining orders and custody issues occurred at the onset of this case, and took 8 days of court time spread over 7 months., 2010
  • My client's divorce from his prior wife was finalized over 29 years ago. Judgment was entered at that time in accordance with then-current law, granting my client his entire federal pension as his sole and separate property. Opposing party filed a motion for distribution of his pension plan in 2010, trying to get a distribution of the plan under current law. The law granting my client the plan as his sole property was overturned by Congress about a year later. At the same time, the California State Legislature passed a law that gave ex-spouses until January 1, 1986 to go back to court to set aside or redistribute the pensions under these final judgments. I argued that the deadline for redistribution was long past and that the Court now has no jurisdiction, under current law, to go back nearly 30 years to modify the judgment, when Wife had 5 years to do so and never took action. My client's pension plan was preserved as his sole and separate property., 2010
  • Our client received her one-half share of the substantial community estate, which the Court found dated from 2000 as we argued; and our client has primary custody of the child. We also received an excellent support order. Description:This case involved a lengthy custodial dispute and an even longer dispute over the character of the community property estate. These parties had been together for 14 years, became domestic partners in 2000, and were married by civil union in another state. It was our contention that the law in the State of California provided that the property acquired from the date of the domestic partnership until the date of separation was community property, and that the child would be best served by remaining with our client, who had been the stay at home mom since the child's birth., 2009
  • Judgment with attached settlement agreement entered within 60 days of filing (though status not restored as single persons for another 4 months). Description:This case involved two people married many, many years, who had built a sizeable community property estate. There were no minor children, though spousal support was at issue., 2008
  • My clients have adopted the child and the period of appeal has passed. Description:A child was given to my clients as guardians. After over two years of biological mother making no attempt to contact the child or support the child in any way, her parental rights were terminated and the child freed for adoption.

Other Outstanding Achievements:

  • Los Angeles District Meeting - Social Media as Evidence (Speaker), 2015
  • Central Coast Direct - Evidence and Investigators in Family Law (Speaker), 2014
  • Growing Through Divorce - Family Law Strategies and Christian Principles (Speaker), 2014
  • Reconciliation in the City - Reconciling the church with the courts (Speaker), 2011
  •  Law Day 2010 -  How changes to Domestic Partnership Laws have affected the rights of our Senior Citizens  (Speaker), 2010

Educational Background:

  • University of Mexico - B.A., English, 1993

Industry Groups

  • Family Law
Office Location for Carla Hartley, Esq.

5700 Ralston Street
Suite: 210
Ventura, CA 93003

Phone: 805-232-5808

Fax: 805-639-0500


Carla Hartley, Esq.:

Last Updated: 8/3/2018

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