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Thomas Murphy

Hon. Thomas R. Murphy (Ret.)

Case Manager
Lisa Abrantes
T: 619-237-0801
F: 619-236-9032
401 B Street, Suite 2100, San Diego, CA 92101


Available to conduct virtual/remote mediations and other ADR proceedings on a variety of online platforms, including Zoom. 

Hon. Thomas R. Murphy (Ret.)
brings more than four decades of experience as an attorney, judge and neutral to JAMS. First appointed as a municipal judge in 1980, Judge Murphy joined the San Diego County Superior Court in 1985, where he spent the next 15 years focusing on family law and probate disputes. While on the bench, he also created and participated in a court-based family law alternative dispute resolution program. He was a member of the first group of Certified Family Law Specialists in California in 1980 and was an adjunct professor of law at California Western School of Law in San Diego from 1984 to 1993, where he taught community property and family law.

Since retiring from the court in 2000, Judge Murphy has developed a reputation as an elite family law and probate neutral. He is regarded for his ability to bring a calm demeanor to high-profile and contentious disputes, and is known for crafting creative resolutions to complex issues.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Successfully resolving disputes as a neutral for over 18 years
  • Extensive experience resolving family law, probate, business, partnership and personal injury disputes
  • Managed complex litigation, including construction defect litigation
  • Designed a management program for the resolution of high-profile family law and probate matters

Representative Matters

Family Law

  • Extensive experience resolving family law disputes involving dissolution of marriage, division of assets, custody, child support valuation and division of family-run business, and non-marital (Marvin) partnerships
  • Post-dissolution move-away custody trial (Ca. Const. Art. VI Sect 21 and Cal. Rules of Court 244)
  • Spousal support trial (Cal. Const. Art. VI Sect. 21, and Cal. Rules of Court 244)
  • Support arrearages trial (Cal. Const. Art. VI Sect 21 and Cal. Rules of Court 244) necessitated interpreting marital settlement agreement and an accounting
  • Alleged intentional reduction in income; division of unimproved property owned in partnership with one spouse’s relatives
  • Attorneys’ fees dispute with client
  • California Rule of Court 244 trial; discovery difficulties; questions over division of assets with complex property accumulations
  • California Rule of Court 244 trial; long-term marriage, multiple disputes; valuation of professional practice and real estate; commingling of separate and community estates and parental alienation
  • Case began as trial (Cal. Const. Art. VI Sect 21 and Cal Rules of Court, Rule 244); post-bifurcation case was mediated; remaining issues of characterization, valuation, support and fees; total estate of approximately $9 million
  • Case with multiple legal issues, including validity of prenuptial agreement, tax violations, valuation, etc.
  • Complex case with overlapping Family Code and Probate Code issues; no clear-cut answer; economics necessitated settlement
  • Date of separation the major issue (one to seven years); high income; support and fees (including Borson) remaining issues
  • Discovery master in contentious dissolution with issues relating to alleged theft, nondisclosure; all issues including visitation, valuation, support, etc.
  • Dispute between first spouse and decedent during marriage with second spouse
  • Dispute over date of separation in a 17- to 20-year marriage with separate and community estate totaling $15 million to $17 million; validity and interpretation of a prenuptial agreement; tracing and valuation of pre-marriage business
  • Division of “non-existent community estate”; all alleged assets owned by non-citizen relatives
  • Division of athletic awards and memorabilia
  • Division of estate where criminal charges pending, affecting value and manner of division of estate
  • Division of large estate of two professionals, one of whom decided to be a homemaker; charges of concealment of assets and major fiduciary breaches
  • 8-year marriage; custodial parent relocates across country and is unable to find employment; issues of support and fees
  • 8-year marriage; issues included property characterization and income flow
  • 18-year marriage; characterization of property and Moore-Marsden issues
  • Emotionally disabled parent and children; time sharing, support and fees
  • 15-year marriage; 42-year-old disabled spouse; spousal support
  • 15-year marriage; issues of time sharing and right of first refusal with minor children
  • 14-year marriage; contentious parties and counsel; everything at issue, modest estate
  • Highly valued business, on paper; serious tax liabilities and mistrust between the parties and counsel
  • Interpretation of marital settlement agreement created by pro pers; $1 million to $5 million at issue
  • Interpretation of prenuptial agreement; spousal support and fees (one spouse a well-known entertainer)
  • Lengthy California Rule of Court trial; issues of perjury, concealment of assets and substantial contingent tax liability
  • Long-term marriage; valuation of two professional practices and division of numerous minority partnership interests
  • Long-term Marvin relationship; short-term marriage; equities and law at odds
  • Long-term marriage with issues including ownership and valuation of family business; valuation of real property; accounting for rents; strong opinions regarding issue of fairness versus the law; all issues resolved but spousal support, left for litigation
  • Long-term marriage, long-term separation; multiple high-value, out-of-country businesses, with main issues being how to value and how to equalize
  • Long-term marriage; serious parental alienation; 730 evaluations
  • Long-term marriage; valuation of highly volatile business
  • Mediation of case before filing of petition for dissolution; both parties represented by counsel; questionable marriage (putative common law); disputed prenuptial agreement ,including question of what state’s law to apply in interpretation; $16 million community/quasi-community/separate estate; valuation, support and tracing
  • 19-year marriage; recently disabled bread winner; allegations of waste of community property; Epstein, Watts and procedure for equalization of community estate
  • Post-judgment resolution of undisclosed asset of substantial value; commingling, tracing and Imperato issues
  • Questionable 14-year marriage; validity of post-marital agreement, including issues of fiduciary obligations; Marvin and putative spouse issue; cultural matters overrode entire dissolution
  • Role reversal; custody, child and spousal support; competing vocational evaluations
  • 17-year marriage; evaluating professional’s practice (no records); evaluating implications of special tax law in property division
  • 17-year marriage; excluding deferred compensation, marital estate included residence, vacation home and five commercial properties; issues of valuation, division, spousal support, child support, fees and alleged parental alienation
  • 16-year marriage; four minor children; time sharing, imputation of income and support issues
  • 16-year marriage; issues included child sharing (one child disabled); income of self-employed spouse; imputed income regarding non-liquid assets; division and valuation of collections
  • 10-year marriage; 1.5-year separation; emotionally charged separation; Epstein, Watts and Borson issues, as well as domestic violence and support
  • 13-year marriage; issues included date of separation (3 to 5 years); Epstein and fiduciary duty violations
  • 33-year marriage; 4-year separation; major issues regarding Epstein and Watts totaling millions of dollars
  • Three independent cases regarding child support; one parent an extraordinarily high income earner
  • 12.5-year marriage; validity of prenuptial agreement; Family Code 2640 and fraud issues; support and fees
  • 12-year marriage; valuation of dental practice and use of residence pending sale
  • 28-year marriage; 2.5-year separation; substantial estate; business valuation, including complex tax issues; in addition to counsel for the parties, participants included in-house counsel, accountant and forensics
  • 29-year marriage; spousal support where high-income-earning spouse has been terminated from employment
  • 27-year marriage; three separations and reconciliations; issues of valuation and characterization of construction business and cash flow available for support
  • 27-year marriage; valuation of farms, equipment, crops, income available for support, fees and costs
  • 20-year marriage; 2-year separation; marital estate included 200+ parcels of real estate, including commercial, apartments, single-family dwellings, condominiums and unimproved land; 35% to 40% of real estate held with partners
  • Two Marriages with a 2-year hiatus in between; 3-year separation; community/separate estate consisted of ongoing real estates developments; allegations of discovery abuse
  • 2-year, 8-month marriage; confusing prenuptial agreement tied in with estate plan; aging spouse
  • Unique issue regarding spousal support; high-income earner; however, income very speculative and received infrequently
  • Valuation and division of business created by and participated in by both spouses
  • Valuation of “underwater” stock options
  • Valuation of business and along with typical problems, the handling of issues associated with 8-year separation
  • Valuation of community business allegedly purchased at discount from one spouse’s parents; highly emotional; fairness versus proof and law
  • Valuation of family business (only a portion of which was community property); accounting issues since separation; retroactively of support and offsets
  • Valuation of professional’s practice; procedure for buyout, support and fees
  • Valuation of successful personal injury law practice


  • Resolved numerous probate matters involving disputes over wills, community property and hidden assets

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, International Academy of Trial Judges
  • Member, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 1983–2018
  • Judicial Officer of the Year, Family Law Executive Committee, State Bar of California,1987
  • Former Member, Board of Directors, Foothills Bar Association, 1972–1975
  • Taught and lectured extensively in areas of family law and probate for CEB, Rutter Group, Family Law Specialists, San Diego California Judges Association and California Center for Judicial Education and Research

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Judges Lifetime Achievement Award, Family Law Section, San Diego County Bar Association, 2000
  • Family Law Person of the Year, Southern California Chapter, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 1993

Selected Publications

  • Editorial Consultant, California Family Law Monthly, Matthew Bender & Co., Inc., 1995–2010
  • San Diego Superior Court
    • Judge, 1985–2000
    • Fast-Track Civil Calendar, 1998–2000
    • Supervising Judge, Vista Court, 1996–1997
    • Civil Law Motion, Probate and Family Law, 1993–1995
    • Family Law (exclusively), 1985–1993
  • California Western School of Law, 1984–1993
    • Adjunct Professor, Family Law
  • Municipal Court, El Cajon
    • Judge, 1980–1985
  • City of El Cajon
    • Assistant City Attorney, 1968–1980
  • Linley, McDougal, Meloche & Murphy
    • Principal, 1968–1980
  • Romney & Gallagher
    • Associate, 1966–1968
  • LL.B., University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (formally Boalt Hall School of Law), 1965
  • B.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 1962



Practice Areas

  • Estates/Probate/Trusts
  • Family Law


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