Hon. Richard Bennett (Ret.)

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Family Law

Hon. Richard Bennett (Ret.) brings to his Family Law ADR practice twenty-one years of judicial experience in the Napa County Courts, including six years as Presiding Judge of the Family Law Division and the Juvenile Court; and an additional nine years of handling Family Law cases in addition to other assignments.  Judge Bennett is often sought out by court and counsel to hear difficult and complex family cases. 

Since retirement, as an assigned judge, Judge Bennett has presided over Family Law and Juvenile Court assignments throughout several counties in Northern California.  His experience in all aspects of dispute resolution in Family Law cases has provided insight into the emotional issues that must be addressed in these cases.  He is known for his sensitivity and ability to navigate through those emotional issues to bring resolution to the most complex, highly intricate, emotionally-charged matters. 

Judge Bennett has also frequently presented programs about legal developments in family law to the Family Law Section of the Napa County Bar Association. 

 

As a full time neutral at JAMS, Judge Bennett handles various aspects of family law ADR, including mediation, private judging, discovery reference, and active case management to help develop and implement plans to keep litigation orderly, efficient, with reduced conflict. Judge Bennett continues to hear ongoing matters but at this time is not accepting new cases.

 

Representative Matters

  • Handled matters determining validity of prenuptial agreements, including agreements drawn in other jurisdictions

  • Handled matters involving the characterization of Separate Property, Community Property, and Quasi-community Property; resolution of issues regarding commingling of assets; identification, joinder and calculation of community interest in retirement plans; direct and residual tracing of Separate Property or Community Property to the origins; issues involving transmutation of property

  • Handled matters determining complex issues regarding date of separation for the purposes of property identification and valuation

  • Handled dissolution (and Marvin) cases involving the final distribution of property to the parties, including date of valuation; Watts/Epstein calculations for a party’s use of the home; reimbursement claims under Family Code Section 2640; Moore/Marsden calculations regarding community contributions to separate property; Pereira/Van Camp issues regarding community interest in businesses; considerations regarding after acquired, misappropriated, and newly discovered or “missed” assets

  • Handled matters regarding the propriety and amount of attorney’s fees in consideration of Family Code Section 2030, and fees as sanctions pursuant to Family Code Section 271

  • Handled matters of child custody and visitation issues, including determination of best interests of the child; joint, legal and physical custody arrangements; “move-away” cases; Hague Convention requirements in international cases; and issues relating to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

  • Handled matters determining appropriate level of guideline child support; deviation from guideline child support if a party has a“high income”; implementation of security for payment of child support; considerations of earning capacity and imputed earnings; determinations of requests for modification of child support for changed circumstances

  • Handled matters determining spousal support, both temporary and permanent, including guidelines in Family Code Section 4320; determining earning capacity; imputed earnings;Gavron warnings; consideration of marital standard of living; step-down awards; issues if the parties reconcile; and determinations of requests for modification or termination of spousal support

  • Mediated a case involving issues of identification, valuation and distribution of community property

  • Mediated a case involving visitation during all holiday and school breaks during the year; the issues were unresolved previously despite several years of regular appearances on the family law master calendar

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Admitted United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit, 1973
  • Admitted United States Supreme Court, 1976
  • Member, California Judges Association, 1985-present
    • Member, California Judges Association Family Law Committee

Background and Education

  • Graduate, Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution, "Mediating the Litigated Case,” Pepperdine University, 2003
  • Assigned Judge, AOC Assigned Judges Program, 2007-2011
  • Judge, Napa Superior Court, 1996-2006 (Presiding Judge, 2001, 2002, 2005; Assistant Presiding Judge, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004)
  • Judge, Napa Municipal Court, 1985-1996 (Presiding Judge, 1987, 1990, 1993; Assistant Presiding Judge, 1994, 1995)
  • Division Chief, Napa County District Attorney’s Office, 1983-1985
  • Partner, Jones, Bennett & Cox, 1973-1982
  • Assistant City Attorney, Calistoga, California, 1975-1982
  • Counsel for Napa County Public Administrator & Public Guardian, 1973-1982
  • J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1973 (Graduating Class President)
  • B.A. in Business Administration with emphasis in Accounting, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, 1969

Disclaimer

This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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