Dick & Wagner : Family Law
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Stephen J. Wagner

Contact Information:
Email: sjw@dwfamlaw.com
Phone: (916) 920-9504
Fax: (916) 920-4720

Practice Areas:
100% Family Law

McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, Sacramento, California, 1975, J.D.
San Jose State College, California State University, San Jose, California,

I have practiced law since 1975 and have limited my practice to the area of Family Law since approximately 1980. My practice is concentrated on complex family law matters usually involving issues relating to property valuation and division, characterization of property as community or separate property and support. If custody becomes a major issue, I will bring in co-counsel to handle the custody portion of the case while I handle the other portions.

My general philosophy of family law litigation is that almost all cases are capable of settlement and should be settled. I am successful in settling cases approximately 95% of the time. However, if a case cannot be settled, then it should be vigorously litigated. I have tried scores of cases lasting from one day to several months. In recent years, most of my trials have lasted a week or more.

I firmly believe there is no substitute for experience and preparation. Thorough preparation, when combined with experience, is normally the key to success. Preparation is a team effort. Team effort requires the active participation of the client, the family law attorney and all necessary experts, whether accounting, valuation or witness preparation specialists. The family law attorney is only as good as his or her weakest link in the team.

In addition to practicing family law on a full-time basis, I enjoy teaching the principles of family law. I taught family law at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law for five years and, since 1980, have taught more than one hundred and fifty classes to family law lawyers, experts or judges. Most of the courses which I present are practical "how to" courses, which strike a balance between legal principles, practical applications of the law and litigation techniques. Most recently I have begun to focus my teaching on family law trial techniques and trial advocacy, doing so on both the state and national levels.

Areas Of Practice:
100% Family Law

Litigation Percentage:
90% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Certified Family Law Specialist, California Board of Legal Specialization for the State Bar of Calif., 1981
Certified Family Law Specialist, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 1991

Bar Admissions:
California, 1975
U.S. District Court Eastern District of California, 1976
U.S. Supreme Court, 1979

Published Works:

  • On the Editorial Board of the California Family Law Monthly, since 1985 and has been a regular commentator for CFLM since then. Matthew Bender
  • California Family Law Trial Guide, Participated on Unit 42 (Trial of Issues Arising from Form of Title), Unit 43 (Trial of Issues Relating to Reimbursement for Separate Contributions to Community Property, and Unit 44 (Trial of Tracing Issues)
  • Chapter 5, "Tax Consequences of Remarriage," in Tax Aspects of Marital Dissolutions, CEB 2nd edition
  • Article,"Tax Implications of the California Divorce", The Journal of California Taxation, Vol. 3 No. 3, Page 27, Spring, 1992
  • Fiduciary Duty Article, "To Disclose or Not to Disclose? That is the Question," California Family Law Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 1, Page 1, August, 1988, Reprinted in Family Law News, Vol. 12, No. 3, Fall, 1989
  • Article, "The Use of Litigation Consultations for Family Law Matters", News Alert, California Family Law Service, Vol. III, No. 5, Page 2, April, 1989
  • Fiduciary Duty Article, "Does He or Doesn't She", California Family Law Monthly, Vol. 3, No. 6, Page 225, Gainer

Classes/Seminars Taught:

  • Adjunct Professor, Family Law, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 1984 - 1989
  • Annual Family Law Advocacy Institute: Trial Training for Family Law Practitioners (8-day trial training course), American Bar Association, 1999 - Present
  • The Annual Institute of Trial Advocacy (3-day trial advocacy seminar), So. Cal. Chapters of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 1993 - Present
  • Annual Family Law Update Classes (full-day course), Matthew Bender, 1997 - Present
  • Various courses for "How To...Continuing Education," Effective Use of Tax Returns, Income Records and Financial Statements in Family Law Cases; Business Valuation; Tracings; Fiduciary Duties and Disclosure Requirements; and, Apportionment Issues (Pereira and Van Camp) (Co-founder of HTCE), 1990 - Present
  • Advanced Apportionment Issues (12/96); Family Law Recent Developments (12/92); Valuation Conference (1988); Marital Dissolution Conference (1987); 1985 Valuation Conference (7/85); 1984 Valuation Conference (9/84); and Tax Accounting Conference - Tax and Dissolution (11/82, Video Made for nationwide distribution), California CPA Society
  • Preparing Accounting Witnesses for Trial (3/97) and Law Office Economics (11/95), American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers-National Conference in Chicago
  • Effective Use of Tax Returns, Income Records and Financial Statements in Family Law Cases, Certified Family Law Specialists of San Diego County, 1998
  • Effective Use of Tax Returns, Income Records and Financial Statements in Family Law Cases, Florida State Bar, Family Law Section, 1997
  • Fiduciary Duties (11/94); Tracing (9/94 - Annual Meeting of State Bar); "Hot Tips" - Proper Date of Value for Small Professional Practices (10/92 - Annual Meeting of State Bar); Ten Essential Tax Issues at Separation and Divorce (1/92); Tracing in Family Law Cases (11/90), State Bar of California, Family Law Section
  • How to Use Tax Returns in Family Law Cases (4/90) and Annual Program Recent Developments in Family Law (9/82 - Annual Meeting of the Bar), State Bar of California, Family Law Section)

Honors and Awards:

  • Diplomat, American College of Family Trial Lawyers, 1998
  • Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 1990
  • Fellow, International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 1997
  • Included in all editions of The Best Lawyers in America since 1987

Professional Associations and Memberships:

  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Family Law Section, 1996 - 2001
    Member, Executive Committee (Chair 2000)
  • Governor's Child Support Court Task Force, 1993 - 1994
  • State Bar of California, 1989 - 1995
    Member, Family Law Executive Committee
  • California Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California, 1988 - 1989
    Member, Family Law Advisory Committee
  • State Bar of California, Family Law Section, 1982 - 1988
    Member, Property Division Standing Committee


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