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


Last week’s $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot created a frenzy like no other as people rushed out to buy their tickets for a shot at riches, the likes of which most of us can’t even fathom. There is no doubt that the frenzy and constant discussion of the billion dollar jackpot left each and every one of us daydreaming about what we would do if we were to stumble our way into such a large fortune. Of course we would pay off our debts, help out friends and family members, buy some cool new things…but did we consider the other not-so-pleasant effects that a lottery win so substantial might have on our lives? Perhaps after reading this, you won’t feel as bad that you weren’t one of the big winners!

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Dividing pensions and retirement plans can be a very complicated aspect of divorce. The rules that apply to social security benefits do not make things any less complicated.

Pension and retirement plans acquired during the marriage are community property just like any other community property. Pensions and retirement plans usually need to be divided through the use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (called a QDRO) or Domestic Relations Order (called a DRO). What about social security benefits? How are those divided?

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There is a saying I use when talking to clients about difficult issues in Family Law Case; “The word ‘fair” only appears in the Family Code in a discussion about attorney fees.” The stark reality is this…Family Law is not fair. It can be equitable and it can be reasonable, but fair it is not. Case in point:

Imagine for a minute that you work for the federal government. This was your first and only job, and your first day was on the exact day you were married (You are a very dedicated employee.) You also separated from your spouse on the exact day you retired 30 years later. Continue reading


Currently American investors are seeing significant losses in the market. For most Americans the effects are being felt in their 401(k) accounts or mutual funds. (Hence the 401(k) to a 201(k) joke…I know it’s not very funny). In the long term, this downturn is just part of the market cycle, but if you are nearing retirement this can be very concerning.

In a divorce, other than homes, retirement accounts are often the biggest asset to divide. Continue reading