Nancy J. Bickford


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For most people, the decision to get divorced is not reached on a whim.  More often than not, “Breaking up is like knocking over a Coke machine.  You can’t do it in one push.  You gotta rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over.” (-Jerry Seinfeld)

It is not uncommon for those going through the divorce process to at some point become frustrated by the amount it is taking to, what in itself sounds simple, end their marriage! While sometimes bittersweet, many people returning to checking the “single” box, provides, a sense of progress, relief, satisfaction, accomplishment, or even freedom. This is especially true for those who have been enmeshed in lengthy highly contentious and stressful litigation. Continue reading

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During marriage, neither spouse is supposed to devalue the community estate by wasting of assets. “Wasting” means spending community money for a non-marital purpose. The classic case has been the spouse who changes his lifestyle, often in the process acquiring a friend to whom the spouse gives money, pays expenses or buys gifts. The other spouse neither knows of these actions nor would approve of them if they were known. But the non-wasting spouse can attempt to recoup losses by negotiation or in court. Continue reading

Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful events a person may go through during their  lifetime.  Emotions run high, finances, which may have already been an area filled with worry and stress, may become even more so, mental health suffers, and the process may feel endless.

One of the biggest adjustments after spouses separate is the change in the family’s dynamics.  For many, this means learning how to co-parent.  Courts want parties to co-parent their children and often order parties to participate and complete parenting and/or co-parenting courses. Studies have shown parents who effectively learn to co-parent their children have an increased ability to protect their children from the negative effects of the dissolution process, including any parental discourse. Continue reading

Earlier this year, Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos announced his divorce from wife MacKenzie after 25 years of marriage and four children together.  The couple met and married before Jeff founded Amazon.  Jeff, who has a reported net worth of nearly $157 billion is the world’s richest man.

The couple, who allegedly did not have a premarital agreement, reside in Washington state.  Washington is a community property state similar to that of California.  That means that generally all assets and debts acquired during marriage will be divided equally.

Despite the couple’s massive estate, the couple finalized their divorce in July 2019, just 7 months after making the announcement.  MacKenzie Bezos will get, amongst other property, 25% of the couple’s Amazon stock, an amount equal to roughly $38 billion.  This stake in Amazon makes MacKenzie the third richest woman in the world.  https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-mackenzie-bezos-divorce-official-settlement-38-billion-2019-7 She has promised to donate at least half of her fortune to charity!

In a previous blog, we talked about different classes of experts (Joint, Hired Gun, Review) employed in family law cases.  In this blog, we will talk about the different “types” of experts we use in family law. 

Forensic Accountant

Forensic accounting is a specialty practice area of accounting that is used in litigation.  Forensic accountants are used in family law to perform tracings for separate and community property, to investigate Family Code Section 2640 reimbursement claims, Moore/Marsden calculations,  to analyze/characterize stock options, and other issues which require an “investigation” of accounting issues.

What separates forensic accountant from regular accountants is specialized training focused on investigation as well as the expectation that the outcome of their investigation will result in the preparation of reports suitable to serve as evidence in a court of law. Continue reading

Lawyers love to make jokes about how bad we are at math.  Often those jokes include statements like, “if I were good at math I would have become an engineer” or if “I was good at math and science I would be a doctor not a lawyer.” Nobody likes lawyer jokes more than lawyers, but these statements are not universally true.  There are many lawyers who are good at math.  In fact at Bickford Blado & Botros, we have the only certified family law specialist in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant with a Master of Business Administration.  Having an attorney with a strong math and accounting background helps to spot and analyzes issues, but it is in no way a substitute for a financial expert.  When it comes to financial matters, there is no substitute for a qualified financial expert.

In family law, there are many reasons you may decide to use an expert.  Similarly, there are just as many different types of experts you can hire.  You might need an expert to value your family home or a business.  You might need an expert to decide a party’s income, or what custody schedule is best for your kids.  Whatever the reason might be, you need to decide first what class of expert you want.  This blog will address the three “classes” of experts we see in family law. Continue reading

A new product has just come on the market that may have piqued your interest if you are going through a divorce: Divorce Insurance. That’s right, you read correctly, divorce insurance actually exists!

A man named Richard Zizian, a legal educator and holder of a California Juris Doctorate (not a licensed or practicing attorney), has collaborated with Great American Insurance Group to develop a new program called Marital Settlement Agreement Insurance, or “MSAI.” Zizian, after going through a divorce himself, understood the emotional toll that a divorce can take. An emotional toll which, he states, makes one more susceptible to be laid off from employment. Continue reading

Yes, even Spice Girls get divorced just like any one of us. In March 2017, former Spice Girl Mel B, perhaps better known as “Scary Spice” or as a current judge on America’s Got Talent, filed for divorce from her husband of 10 years, Stephen Belafonte.

Mel B, worth a reported $60 million, filed for divorce in a Los Angeles Superior Court after she and Belafonte separated in December 2016. While Mel B’s nickname might have been “Scary,” it seems as though her marriage to Belafonte was in fact scary, as she filed for a restraining order against him shortly after filing for divorce. It appears that she had been covering up injuries from abuse from Belafonte for years. And, while Mel B’s petition reportedly requests joint custody of the couple’s daughter, it also requests that the Court to deny spousal support to Belafonte. Continue reading

On August 24, 2015, the San Diego Superior Court began an Imaging Program in the Family Court designed to reduce paper filings and storage and facilitate electronic access to Family Court files. There have been questions relating to how certain procedures differ in imaged cases. This blog post is intended to answer these questions.

What do you mean by an “imaged” case?

Imaged cases are Family Court cases (including Family Support Division cases) where the official record of the Court is imaged and stored electronically. This includes all Family Court cases (including Family Support Division cases) initiated on or after August 24, 2015.

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We’ve written blogs in the past about the time it takes to get a divorce in California and the infamous six-month statutory minimum waiting period. Even so, we are constantly faced with clients who come in with the misconception that their divorce will be completely over in 6 months. While that may be the case, experience tells us that a six month divorce is pretty rare.

First, let me repeat: six months is the MINIMUM length of time your divorce can take to be finalized in the state of California. This statutory waiting period is without exception. Whether you are self-represented or you retain an attorney in your divorce case, you cannot legally be “single” until six months has passed from the day you (or your spouse) filed the petition for divorce. Continue reading