Nancy J. Bickford

Did you know in the state of California, you do not need to be genetically related to a child for a Court to find you to be the child’s parent and issue orders for you to pay financial support of the child?

It’s true! And it can occur under the following circumstances:shutterstock_129857873 Continue reading

Family law courts across the nation adhere to “guidelines” andshutterstock_755356498 a statutory formula in determining appropriate child support awards.  In actuality, the “guidelines” provide mandatory requirements intended to create uniformity in the calculations of child support that are presumed correct.

The guidelines take into account the general principles that (1) a parent’s first and primary obligation is to support his or her minor child consistent with his or her own circumstances and “station in life” (“station in life” meaning the parents’ social standings, i.e. lifestyle, work status, economic circumstances, etc.); and (2) both parents are by law mutually responsible for the support of their child. Continue reading

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In the headlines the end of 2019, the Miami Dolphins released Running Back Mark Walton hours after he was arrested for charges of aggravated battery against a pregnant woman.  The authorities received a 9-1-1 call in the early hours of November 19, 2019 from Walton’s girlfriend declaring Walton pushed her against a wall and punched her several times in the face and head.  According to her, she endured the beating for 10-15 minutes prior to calling the police.  It is important to note, at this time, Walton has only been charged and has not been convicted for these allegations. Continue reading

puzzle-3223941_1280-300x182Whether you are getting ready to file for divorce, or already have, you probably have seen or heard the words “community property” and “separate property” many times.  These are common family law terms that parties will need to understand throughout their proceeding for dissolution.  Pursuant to Family Code section 760, “Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.”  This statute is followed by Family Code section 770, which states, “Separate property of a married person includes all of the following: (1) all property owned by the person before marriage, (2) all property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent, and (3) the rents, issues, and profits of the property described in this section.” Continue reading

What does the “date of separation” mean and why is it so important?separation-date-300x202

When a spouse files for divorce the first issue to tackle is often the parties’ date of separation.  One might think that the date of separation is when the petition was filed in the divorce, or when one spouse moved out.  However, the date of separation is often fact driven and can be a complicated issue to resolve.

Pursuant to Family Code section 70 the “date of separation” means that a complete and final break in the marital relationship has occurred, such that (1) the spouse has expressed to the other spouse his or her intent to end the marriage, and (2) the conduct of the spouse is consistent with his or her intent to end the marriage.  The court has stated that there must be problems “so impaired” in the marriage that there is no reasonable possibility of “eliminating, correcting, or resolving these problems.”  (In re Marriage of Hardin (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 448.)  Ultimately, the court will look towards the parties’ subjective intent to end the marriage, and the parties’ outward persona should not be considered. Continue reading


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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