Posts Tagged ‘Southbay Divorce Attorney’

California Divorce Blog–Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Divorce

September 25, 2016

Today I was quoted in an article published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation regarding the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Divorce. This articles addresses issues raised in Child Custody litigation. The link to the article is a as follows:

Child Custody Litigation is an extremely complex area of Family Law. If you have questions regarding child custody issues please call Attorney Keith F. Simpson at (310) 297-9090. The Law Offices of Keith F. Simpson, A Professional Corporation, is located in Manhattan Beach, California.



California Divorce Blog–Dividing the House

September 17, 2016

In California, it is common for a house to be the largest asset owned by a divorcing couple. I am often asked how the equity in the house is divided. Is one party allowed to stay in the house and retain ownership? What if the house was owned prior to marriage? Real Estate, also known as Real Property, can present multiple complicating factors which must be carefully analyzed before you proceed with a divorce case.

We start with the concept of community property and separate property. In general, community property is all property acquired during the marriage. Separate property is all property acquired by a party before marriage and after the date of separation (gifts and inherited property are also separate property regardless when acquired). Therefore, if the house was purchased during marriage then the house is by definition Community Property.

We then look to the source of funds used for the down payment and monthly mortgage payments. If the house was purchased during marriage and the down payment was from community property money then the house is likely Community Property and the equity should be divided 50/50. If the down payment was from a separate property source, then the party who supplied the separate property down payment should be reimbursed for the down payment the the remaining equity split 50/50 as community property.

If the house was owned prior to marriage and is separate property, it is still possible for the community to acquire a community property interest based upon the monthly mortgage payments being paid from community property income. In my experience, this typically does not amount to a large amount of money because the community acquires an interest in the home based upon the reduction of principal (not interest) paid. This amount is then reduced to a 50% interest for each party.

Please remember that other issues can determine who owns the house, including, but not limited to, how title is held, whether an interest was gifted from one spouse to another, the ability of one spouse to trace funds, violations of fiduciary duties owed between spouses and other factors. This issue alone is often complex and should therefore be analyzed very carefully.

Please call Attorney Keith F. Simpson today to discuss your divorce case at (310) 297-9090. Attorney Keith F. Simpson is a Divorce Lawyer in Manhattan Beach, California. You may also visit the website at to review further divorce information.

California Divorce Blog–Pension Plans And Other Retirement Plans

September 7, 2016

If you or your spouse work at Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, Chevron or another large company, chances are you may have a Pension Plan, 401k Plan, IRA or other type of Retirement Plan. In divorce cases, these plans often have a Community Property and Separate Property component.

The portion of the Retirement Plan (Pension) which accrued prior to marriage and after the date of separation is Separate Property. This means the spouse who owns the plan retains all earned benefits prior to the date of marriage and after date of separation.

The portion of the Retirement Plan (Pension) which accrued during marriage is Community Property. This means that both spouses share the portion of the Retirement Plan benefits earned during marriage 50/50. This type of apportionment is often referred to as the “Time Rule” meaning the community portion of the plan is shared 50/50 for the term of the marriage.

This example illustrates the importance of determining the Date of Separation. The Date of Separation marks the end of the Community Property interest in the Retirement Plan. Therefore, it is extremely important to review all issues regarding the Date of Separation with your Attorney. Depending on the facts in your case, you can earn additional retirement benefits (or lose additional retirement benefits) based solely upon the issue of determining your date of separation.

If you have any questions regarding your Divorce please call Attorney Keith F. Simpson at (310) 297-9090. Attorney Keith F. Simpson is a California Family Law Attorney located in Manhattan Beach, California.

California Divorce Blog–High Net Worth Divorce

September 3, 2016

High Net Worth divorce cases present unique issues in a marital dissolution matter. Whether you are a high net worth individual such as an Entrepreneur, Investor, Doctor, Lawyer or married to one, you face a unique set of challenges.

The first issue is to identify all assets (and debts) in a high net worth divorce. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Real Estate Holdings
  • Stock Investments
  • Ownership in Closely Held Corporations or other Entities
  • Patents, Copyrights and/or Trademarks
  • Art Collections
  • Gold
  • Exotic Vehicles including Yachts

Once we identify the assets we then need to have the assets valued. This is typically done by a professional appraiser when necessary.

Once the assets and values have been ascertained, we then need to determine whether the property is Community Property, Separate Property or a mix of Community Property and Separate Property. This may be complex depending on when the property was acquired, how the property was acquired and how title to the property is held.

Spousal Support is often a heavily litigated issue in High Net Worth Divorce cases. Permanent Spousal Support is determined upon a number of factors which include the length of marriage and the Marital Standard of Living. In High Net Worth cases, the Marital Standard of Living often includes frequent travel and residences in affluent communities. Therefore, it is extremely important to retain a competent attorney to represent your interests in a High Net Worth Divorce matter.

Please contact Attorney Keith F. Simpson today if you have any questions regarding a High Net Worth Divorce at (310) 297-9090. The Law Offices of Keith F. Simpson, A Professional Corporation, is located in Manhattan Beach, California.


California Divorce Blog–Child Custody Move Away

December 7, 2014

I am often asked if a parent who has primary custody, or even Sole Legal Custody and Sole Physical Custody, may Move Away with the child without a Court Order. Generally, the answer is NO. Parties should seek Court Approval of the Move Away before moving with the child. The adverse consequence could include losing custody of your child.

By statute, a parent with sole physical custody of the children has the presumptive right to change the children’s residence, subject to the court’s power to restrain a removal that would “prejudice the rights or welfare” of the children. (See Family Code Section 7501(a); Marriage of Burgess; Marriage of LaMusga; F.T. v. L.J.–Parent does not have presumptive right to relocate with children unless awarded custody by way of “final judicial custody determination.)
But the custodial parent has no more than a presumptive right to relocate with the children, and this is true even if he or she has also been awarded sole legal custody. A sole physical and legal custody order does not terminate the other parent’s parental rights or due process interest in parenting; the noncustodial parent still has standing to oppose the relocation and to seek and obtain a custody modification based on a proper showing of detriment and changed circumstances. (Marriage of Brown).
If you are entertaining the thought of moving away with your Children you should first consult a Lawyer. Also, if your child’s parent is requesting to move away with your children you should first discuss with an attorney. I am often called the week before a scheduled move and asked whether it is permissible to move away with children without a court order. Please understand that it can take generally between two to six months to obtain a Move Away order assuming the parent seeking the move away is successful.
Please call Attorney Keith F. Simpson today to discuss your Family Law case at (310) 297-9090. The Law Offices of Keith F. Simpson, A Professional Corporation, are located in Manhattan Beach, California. You may also visit the website at to e-mail Attorney Keith F. Simpson today.

California Divorce Blog–Community Property Epstein Credits and Watts Charges

December 4, 2014

Division of Community Property can be a complicated subject when dealing with issues regarding real property (real estate). For example, if parties separate and one party remains in the family house and the other party moves out but continues making the mortgage payment, how does the court handle this issue?

The Court will charge the spouse living in the family residence a form of rent which is reimbursement for value of post separation use of community property called “Watts Charges”.  Just as a spouse may have a reimbursement claim against the community for postseparation separate property payments on a community debt, the community may have a reimbursement claim for the value of one spouse’s exclusive use of community property between the date of separation and the date on which the community no longer has an interest in the property—so-called “Watts charges.” (Marriage of Watts (1985) 171 CA3d 366, 374, 217 CR 301, 306)—trial court has authority to order reimbursement to community for spouse’s postseparation exclusive use of community asset; (Marriage of Bell (1996) 49 CA4th 300, 311, 56 CR2d 623, 630—judgment reversed because (among other things) trial court neither ordered reimbursement to community for spouse’s postseparation exclusive use of CP residence nor explained why reimbursement not ordered; and see Marriage of Falcone & Fuke (2012) 203 CA4th 964, 978-979, 138 CR3d 44,59-60—where asset not owned outright by community but is being financed, spouse in possession may satisfy duty to compensate community by making monthly finance payments from his or her separate property (so-called “Epstein credits”]

A typical scenario occurs after separation where one spouse is making payments on a community property home in which the other spouse is given the right of exclusive possession pending sale and a division of the proceeds. To effect a net overall equal division, the trial court may properly award the paying spouse Epstein credits for his or her SP payments on the house and charge the occupant spouse with the full Watts postseparation use value. In effect, the “Epstein credits” are paid from the community and the “Watts charges” are paid to the community, which should yield an equal sharing ofEpstein credits by both spouses and an equal bearing of Watts charges by both spouses. (Marriage of Jeffries (1991) 228 CA3d 548, 553, 278 CR 830, 833).

If your divorce case involves the division of real property, you should contact Attorney Keith F. Simpson today. California real estate is typically the most valuable asset held by a married couple. It is important to maximize the return on your real property investment by seeking all reimbursements and credits owed to you.  Attorney Keith F. Simpson is located in Manhattan Beach, California. You may contact the Law Offices of Keith F. Simpson at or call at (310) 297-9090.

California Divorce Blog–Domestic Violence

December 1, 2014

I often handle family law matters involving the issue of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders. Domestic Violence can have a detrimental impact upon everyone involved in the case. The victim is often traumatized and scarred both physically and emotionally. Also, a finding of Domestic Violence can cause the perpetrator to have significantly reduced child custody and also cause a higher spousal support order.

Upon a finding by the court that the person seeking custody has perpetrated domestic violence against the other party, the child or the child’s siblings within the past five years, there is a rebuttable presumption that a sole or joint physical or legal custody award to the perpetrator would be detrimental to the child’s best interest. This presumption may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence. (See California Family Code Section 3044(a).

For purposes of Family Code Section 3044, a person has “perpetrated domestic violence” when the court finds that he or she (i) intentionally or recklessly caused or attempted to cause bodily injury or sexual assault; (ii) placed a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or another; or (iii) engaged in any behavior involving (but not limited to) threatening, striking, harassing, destroying personal property or disturbing the peace of another, for which a Family Code Section 6320 ex parte order could issue to protect the other party seeking custody of the child or to protect the child and child’s siblings.  (See Family Code Section 3044(c))

Domestic violence is a very serious matter. The NFL started an advertising campaign this year after the Ravens football team released running back Ray Rice for Domestic Violence against his then fiancé. In a Family Law matter, the issue of Domestic Violence usually significantly impacts the outcome of a case. For the Perpetrator of Domestic Violence, it can cause mandated Supervised Visitation, loss of custodial time with his or her children and/or loss of custodial time all together. For the victim, it can cause emotional scars which last a lifetime.

If you are involved in a Domestic Violence matter, please call Attorney Keith F. Simpson today to discuss your case at (310) 297-9090. Keith Simpson is a Manhattan Beach lawyer with the Law Offices of Keith F. Simpson, A Professional Corporation. You may also contact Keith Simpson at and send an e-mail. Thank you for reading my blog.

California Divorce Blog–Vocational Examination

September 6, 2014

I find that a Vocational Examination is typically necessary in cases where one spouse is either unemployed or underemployed.  The reason is that it is difficult to otherwise produce evidence in court to impute income to the non-working spouse.  The purpose of imputing income to the non-working spouse is to attempt to reduce the working spouse’s monthly child support and/or spousal support obligation.

The fundamental purpose is to obtain an expert’s assessment of a spouse’s ability to obtain employment based upon his or her age, health, education, marketable skills, employment history and the current availability of employment opportunities. To that end, the examination is supposed to focus on an assessment of the party’s ability to obtain the type of employment that would allow the party to maintain herself or himself at the marital standard of living. (See Family Code Section 4331(a)).

Vocational examination results showing the supported spouse is capable of being employed at any income level—albeit below the marital standard of living—are also clearly relevant (e.g., may indicate a step-downorder is appropriate). [See Marriage of Schmir (2005) 134 CA4th 43, 53, 35 CR3d 716, 723—vocational examiner’s testimony supported imputing $2,500/mo. income to obligee spouse].

If you find that your spouse is either unemployed or underemployed, you may want to consider a vocational examination. To further discuss your case please call Attorney Keith F. Simpson today at (310) 297-9090.  Keith F. Simpson is a Family Law Attorney in Manhattan Beach, California. You may also contact Attorney Simpson at for your free consultation.

California Divorce Blog–Temporary Spousal Support

September 4, 2014
Typically, when a divorce case is initially filed a party who earns less than the other party may seek an order for Temporary Spousal Support. This is also called “Pendente Lite” Spousal Support.  Generally, the working spouse pays the non-working spouse temporary spousal support while the action is pending.
During the pendency of a dissolution or legal separation proceeding, the court “may order” one party to pay “any amount that is necessary” for the other’s support consistent with the requirements of per California Family Code Section 4320, 4325.  However, in the Marriage of Freitas, the Court was required to consider the parties’ domestic violence history such as criminal convictions which could reduce or eliminate spousal support awards.  (See Marriage of Freitas (2012) 209 CA4th 1059, 1067, 147 CR3d 453, 459-460.
Until entry of the final judgment, temporary spousal support is properly awardable without regard to the merits or procedural posture of the case. (See the Marriage of Askmo (2000) 85 CA4th, 1032, 1038-1040, 102 CR2d 662, 666-667. In the Askmo case, the court ruled there was no error in awarding the Wife support before her default was vacated and pending Husband’s appeal from set-aside of a default judgment.
If you are the spouse who does not work or earns less than your other spouse then you may want to consider seeking temporary court orders for spousal support. Also, if your spouse is seeking Temporary Spousal Support from you then you should seek an immediate consultation to discuss limiting your exposure to paying spousal support.  For a more in depth analysis please call Attorney Keith F. Simpson at (310) 297-9090 to further discuss your case. You may also review our website at for your free initial consultation today.

California Divorce Blog–Vested and Unvested Retirement Plans and Pensions

September 2, 2014

Many people are confused regarding the division of retirement plans including Pensions, 401k plans, IRA accounts and other such plans. We start with the proposition that generally speaking, all property acquired during marriage is Community Property and to be divided 50/50. Exceptions to this rule include gifts, inheritance and other types of property. A community property interest may only be acquired during marriage and before separation. [Fam.C. §§ 760, 771(a) & 772] Concomitantly, a spouse’s community property interest arises at the time the property is acquired; it is not affected by a change in the form of the property and may be altered only by judicial decree or joint action between the parties. [Marriage of Rossin (2009) 172 CA4th 725, 732, 91 CR3d 427, 432; Marriage of Moore & Ferrie (1993) 14 CA4th 1472, 1478, 18 CR2d 543, 546].

The California Courts have held that employment benefits provided to an employee or promised to an employee at a future date is considered to be community property and therefore divisible 50/50. Other employment fringe benefits based on a contract right to future benefits after separation (even though unvested and unmatured): To the extent “earned” during marriage and before separation, these interests are allocatable to the community. [Marriage of Harrison (1986) 179 CA3d 1216, 1226, 225 CR 234, 239; see Marriage of Foley (2010) 189 CA4th 521, 527–528, 117 CR3d 162, 167 (contractual right to distribution of partnership profits based on prior year’s performance).

Regarding nonvested or non matured benefits, subject to the court’s sound discretion, either cash-out or inkind division can be made for nonvested or nonmatured benefits. [Marriage of Bergman (1985) 168 CA3d 742, 214 CR 661]. First, there is the “Cash-out option”. Under a cash-out division, the total benefits are awarded to the pensioner spouse and the nonemployee spouse is given offsetting assets equal to the present actuarial value of the CP interest in the pension. (This actuarial value includes reductions for shortened life expectancy in nonvested cases and for the possibility the employee spouse might leave the employment before the pension vests.) [Marriage of Bergman, supra; Marriage of Kasper (1978) 83 CA3d 388, 147 CR 821; Marriage of Brown (1976) 15 C3d 838, 126 CR 633]

Second, there is the “Equality of division” method. Arguably, this method could result in a substantially unequal division, since the pensioner spouse might die before the pension vests or, even after vesting and maturity, before payments on the full actuarial value are realized: i.e., the cash-out places all risk of future receipt of benefits on the employee spouse.
Even so, subject to a fair consideration of all the facts involved, and a realistic actuarial valuation, this disposition is not an abuse of discretion. [Marriage of Bergman, supra].

The Brown Decision cited above is a California Supreme Court decision which is the highest Court in the State of California. Therefore, one can argue that this decision carries substantial weight and is persuasive on this issue.

Please contact Attorney Keith F. Simpson today to discuss your family law matter at (310) 297-9090. Attorney Simpson is located in Manhattan Beach, California. You may also review our website at for a free consultation today.