I was at a seminar this weekend about the all of the new cases that were decided in 2015. The moderator of the seminar made a joke about the theme of 2015 for the Court of Appeal in California. That theme was “play nice.” Now to be clear, the moderator was joking, but there were several cases that came down in 2015 where the Court of Appeal appeared to have based their decisions on how the parties (and their attorneys) conducted themselves during the litigation. Without going into detail, suffice it to say bad behavior was not rewarded in 2015.

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Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s 15 year-old son Rocco made headlines recently after he decided that he wanted to live with his dad in London and then refused to return to see his mom in New York for the holidays. Madonna ran into court just before Christmas, where the judge ordered Rocco to be returned to New York so that his living situation could be sorted out. Apparently, even with the Court’s orders, Madonna has had no luck bringing Rocco back to New York even after flying to London and trying to reason with him. According to Guy’s attorney, Rocco will have his own court-appointed attorney at the next hearing which is reportedly scheduled in March.

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Family Code section 3170 requires that parties to a child custody or visitation dispute attend mediation first. In San Diego County, we call this Family Court Services mediation. This process has different names in other counties. For example, in Riverside County, this is referred to Child Custody Recommending Counseling.

San Diego County is referred to as a “recommending county.” If the mediation process does not result in an agreement on custody and visitation, the Family Court Services mediation counselor will issue a report to the Court that includes a written recommendation. Continue reading


As one Court appropriately put it, granting a parent’s request to move out of the county “is one of the most serious decisions a family law court is required to make.” The ramifications of the decision will undoubtedly affect both parents involved and their children for the rest of their lives. The law on California move-aways is not simple. In this blog post, we will discuss a few myths about move-aways in California.

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Previously, we discussed the basics of the Moore/Marsden calculations, which is how the Court determines the community interest in the home when community funds pay down mortgage principal of a separate property home. The Moore/Marsden formula provides for the community to receive not only a reimbursement for principal paydown, but an interest in the appreciation of the home as well.

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As Chris Rock prepares to host the upcoming Oscars, and while much of the population is focused on his potential commentary in light of the highly-criticized lack of diversity in Oscar nominees, something else has captured our attention this week as an interesting legal question that  has risen in Chris’s divorce from Malaak Compton-Rock. Chris filed for divorce in New Jersey last year after 19 years of marriage and, of course, their case encompasses just about everything that we have come to expect out of a celebrity divorce. Continue reading


It is no secret that the cost of higher education in America is HIGH. Each year, the average amount of student loans borrowed increases, as does the number of students taking out educational loans. A 2013 study done by the One Wisconsin Institute found, after surveying 61,762 people, that the average length of repayment on student loan debt is 21.1 years. And, they noted, that this is typically longer for those with advanced degrees. Unfortunately as law school graduates, we know the harsh reality of this all too well. But I digress! At any rate, although a standard federal repayment plan is 10-years, it is clear that this is not always realistic. Taking into consideration the available 20-year federal loan forgiveness option, it is becoming more and more reasonable to expect that people will bear the burden of student debt for as long as 20 years.

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No, Sherri Shepherd’s case is not in being heard in California, but that does not make the facts of her legal battle any less intriguing to us California divorce lawyers. It has certainly left me hypothecating as to what the outcome of her widely-publicized parentage and support battle might be under California law. Although a Pennsylvania trial court ruled last year that Shepherd was legally responsible for a child born to a surrogate after her divorce from ex-husband Lamar Sally, the legal battle may not be over for the parties. The case has hit the media again since news recently broke that Shepherd is appealing the trial court’s decision.

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It sounds cliché (because it is), but if I had a dollar for every time I heard my parents tell me, “as long as you live under my roof, you will follow my rules” I assure you I would be enjoying an early retirement somewhere sunny. When I was a kid, all I could think about was finding another roof to live under. Now, as a parent myself…well like many of us, I am turning into my parents. I suspect I will utter these same words to my kids soon enough.

This blog is not about turning into our parents. It is about dealing with discipline and consistency in co-parenting situations; situations where your children literally have another roof to live under.

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One of the first questions I am asked about child or spousal support it, “How will I be paid my support?” My answer is always the same “depends.” In fact, “It depends” is my answer to most legal questions. In the case of support payments, it really depends on what you and the other party want to do. You can either choose direct payment or a wage assignment.

Direct Payment

Direct payment is just as the name implies. The support payor pays the support payee directly. Continue reading