neil-foresterNeil M. E. Forester, CFLS


Certified Family Law Specialist
Board of Legal Specialization, State Bar of California

Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

Husband, Pet-Parent, Gamer, Grillmaster, Podcast Junkie, Boxer Dog Rescue Advocate, WEAVE Board, #COYS 
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I figured out that what I was attracted to was solving real life problems for real life people, not the abstract or the transactional. Family law was the only area I saw in law school that really matched that description.


Keep your divorce lawyer honest. You are the client. This is your case. Clients should be empowered to challenge their lawyer when they are not getting back to them or are making questionable tactical decisions, or are just not on the same page with regard to strategy. Those are all things the client should be holding the attorney accountable for and if you don’t have an attorney that is willing to have that kind of relationship with you, then get out.

Spanning 15+ years, Neil Forester’s practice is focused 100% on family law matters, with an emphasis on marital dissolutions and complex financial issues involving business entities and multi-million dollar stakes. He is identified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist, and by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers as a Fellow – designations highlighting Neil’s dedication to the practice of family law, and his expertise in the field. Neil’s general family law experience includes:

  • Marriage dissolution, legal separation, and nullity proceedings
  • Local, interstate and international child custody disputes
  • Establishment and modification of guideline child support and spousal support orders
  • Complex business valuation issues
  • Property characterization and valuation, including reimbursement issues and analysis of the Pereira/Van Camp factors
  • Obtaining and defending against Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

Though Neil has extensive experience handling appearances before the courts of many counties in Northern California, his primary goal in virtually every case is cooperative settlement through negotiation, and avoiding the need for expensive and time-consuming litigation. To that end, Neil has successfully negotiated a myriad of Marital Settlement Agreements resolving cases from the most simple and straightforward to the most complex and contentious.

When informal negotiations break down, Neil has a highly developed litigation skill set that enables him to transition from negotiator to zealous advocate seamlessly. His representative experience includes countless appearances at law and motion hearings, “long cause” evidentiary hearings, and court trials.

Neil was an English major as an undergraduate (mostly because he loathed math) and graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 2001. He was awarded the Anthony M. Kennedy Fellowship at Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento that year, and graduated in 2004 with distinction. Neil’s practice since that time has been dedicated exclusively to family law, and despite his noted distaste for math, he is most drawn to complex financial issues, particularly involving business entities.

Immediately after law school, he joined Sacramento’s largest law firm, Downey Brand LLP, as an associate attorney in the Family Law Practice Group. He held that position for nearly 8 years before joining Goyette & Associates in 2012 to launch its Family Law Division. In 2015 he co-founded Forester Purcell Inc., now Forester Purcell Stowell PC.

Neil and his wife Jennifer are pet-parents to Marlee, their deaf rescue dog. In addition to his work in the family law field, Neil serves as Board Member and Past President for WEAVE, a Sacramento-based nonprofit working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Neil also volunteers as Board Chair for NorCal Boxer Rescue, and as Head Coach for Folsom High School’s Speech and Debate Team. Outside of the office, Neil can usually be found in the backyard smoking ribs, on the course searching for his ball, at the pub cheering on the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, planning the next foodie getaway, concentrating on his daily NYT crossword, or listening to the latest true-crime podcast.

  • Represented owner of separate property business involving the sale of company shares with complex tracing issues and intricate analysis of the Pereira/Van Camp factors in determining the lack of a community property interest in the proceeds from the sale.
  • Represented one of four siblings who own a large national business in litigation involving characterization of premarital stocks in the company, tracing of funds from periodic distributions from the separate property business, and analysis of Pereira/Van Camp in determining separate property character of the underlying stock shares.
  • Represented partner in a law firm involving valuation of his practice, determination of the Marital Standard of Living in order to protect increased earnings post separation from spouse’s demand for increased spousal support, and analysis of retroactive in-kind payments to spouse’s separate obligations to create reimbursement claim for overpayment of support.
  • Represented law firm partner at Southern California Labor & Employment firm with significant business valuation and goodwill issues, resulting in full settlement through negotiation.
  • Represented retired business owner in a long term marriage involving highly complex separate property tracing issues, resulting in confirmation to the client of substantial commingled assets as separate property.
  • Represented single mother in a high-conflict custody dispute with an absentee father seeking shared physical custody, resulting in the client receiving sole legal custody and visitation to father only upon the client’s agreement.
  • Consulted with a client working with the opposing party (an attorney) through mediation to ensure the client understood the legal ramifications of the mediated issues, resulting in a successful resolution of the matter through mediation and avoiding the need to litigate the case.
  • Represented a high-profile public figure in a post-judgment spousal support modification case involving the interpretation and application of complex support modification and termination rules.
  • Represented two separate high-profile musicians in marital dissolution cases involving multi-million dollar intellectual property rights and property division issues.
  • Represented partner of Real Estate law firm in a marital dissolution case involving complex business valuation of law practice, domestic violence issues, and breach of fiduciary duty issues, resulting in highly favorable judgment after trial.
  • Represented law firm partner with a tax litigation practice in marital dissolution case involving significant separate property reimbursement issues, spousal support, and allocation of separate property debt issues.
  • Represented Peruvian father in child abduction matter under the Hague Convention resulting in the return of the child to the father after a single contested hearing.
  • Represented former member of the armed services in marital dissolution case involving contested child custody disputes, domestic violence, and support issues, resulting in an extremely favorable judgment for the client after contested trial.
  • Represented cardiologist in marital dissolution matter involving issues related to imputing income to underemployed spouse, valuation of a medical practice, and separate property reimbursement issues.
  • Represented commercial real property business owner in a marital dissolution case after 30 years of marriage, with issues involving three decades of tracing commingled separate property inheritance funds and property valuation, resulting in a favorable settlement for the client.
  • Represented mother of two children against Turkish father who illegally fled with the children out of the country and hid the children from her, resulting in the return of the children to her and virtual termination of father’s visitation rights.
  • Pro bono representation of woman seeking domestic violence restraining order against same sex cohabitant, resulting in full settlement of case.
  • Pro bono representation of abused Hmong woman seeking domestic violence restraining orders against violent husband who was seeking to have her deported, resulting in successful resolution of all issues.
  • Has successfully argued cases and motions before the Superior Courts of Sacramento, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Napa, Placer, Yolo, San Francisco, Marin, Tehama, Siskiyou, Solano, Stanislaus, Lassen, Lake, Yuba, and Nevada Counties.

University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

  • Juris Doctor, with Distinction, 2004
  • Anthony M. Kennedy Fellow (member of the first Fellowship class, and recipient of full tuition scholarship for all three years of law school)
  • Chief Articles Editor, McGeorge Law Review, 2003 – 2004

California State University, Sacramento

  • Bachelor of Arts, English, 2001
  • Graduated Summa Cum Laude

WEAVE (2006 – Present)

  • Member, Board of Directors; President (2017-2018); Vice President (2014-2016); Board member since 2011
  • Chair of Legal Committee assisting in the development of WEAVE’s legal services department
  • Represented several WEAVE clients on pro bono basis in Domestic Violence Restraining Order cases
  • Served on Facilities Committee during construction of new WEAVE Safehouse

McGeorge School of Law

  • Adjunct Professor, Spring Semester Family Law Trial Skills Class (2014 – 2016)
  • Pacific McGeorge Alumni Mentor Network

NorCal Boxer Rescue

  • President, Board of Directors (2015 – present)
  • Pro bono legal counsel and foster family

Placer County Superior Court

  • Selected by Placer County Family Law Bench to work as Attorney Mediator for self-represented litigants with support and/or financial issues on court’s “pro per” calendar (2012 – 2015)

UC Davis School of Law – Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic

  • Supervising attorney (2014)
  • Guest lecturer

Folsom High School

  • Head Coach of the Speech & Debate Team (2019 – Present)

Mira Loma High School

  • Coach of the Speech & Debate Team (2007 – 2011)
  • Grew team from 20 members to over 100 in first two years of coaching
  • Qualified dozens of student team members to compete at National Forensics League National Tournament

  • Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • Pro Bono Award Recipient, Placer County Bar Association – 2019
  • Hero of Human Services Award Recipient, Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, Human Services Recognition Ceremony – 2014
  • Top Lawyers List, Sacramento Magazine – 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Selected for inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers – 2017, 2018, 2019
  • Best of the Bar List, Sacramento Business Journal – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018

Continuing Education of the Bar (“CEB”)

  • California Child Custody and Practice (contributing author)
  • Family Law: Financial Discovery (contributing author)
  • California Child and Spousal Support: Establishing, Modifying, and Enforcing (contributing author)
  • Family Law Jurisdiction (Presenter – 2015 Family Law Intensive Course, Oakland)
  • Understanding the Nuances of Inter-Spousal Fiduciary Duties (Presenter – 2014 State Family Law Conference, Anaheim)
  • Financial Discovery in Family Law Cases (Presenter – 2009 continuing education seminar, Sacramento Convention Center)
  • Asset Protection through Marital Agreements (Presenter – 2011 State Family Law Conference, San Francisco)

Sacramento County Bar Association

  • Beyond the Basics: Domestic Violence Trial Advocacy Workshop (Moderator – November 2017)
  • Preparing Your DV Case / Mock DV Trial (Presenter – November 2017)

Outword California Magazine

National Business Institute (“NBI”)

  • Ethical Issues for Family Law Attorneys and Property and Financial Issues in Marital Dissolutions (Presenter – December 2012 “Family Law from A to Z,” Sacramento)

McGeorge Law Review

  • The Elephant in the Locker Room: Does the NFL Discriminate in the Hiring of Head Coaches (34 McGeorge L. Rev. 877) (Author)

  • Association of Certified Family Law Specialists (
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers – AAML
  • California Lawyers Association – Family Law Section
  • Sacramento County Bar Association
  • Placer County Bar Association
  • American Bar Association

  • State Bar of California
  • Certified Family Law Specialist / The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization