matthew-k-purcellMatthew K. Purcell, CFLS


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

Lawyer, Husband, Daddy, Pet-Parent, Gamer, Bruin, Fantasy Football Savant, Sunscreen Aficionado
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Unlike other areas of law I studied in law school, in Family Law I could see the direct impact of my guidance, knowledge, and counsel on someone’s life. Family Law involves so many other legal issues, (tax, corporate, criminal, probate, etc.), that it constantly challenges and interests me and has practical application to day-to-day life.


My goal is to provide the best possible legal and practical advice for my clients as they go through the most difficult time in their lives. Particularly when children are involved, it is important for me to help my clients see the big picture and focus on their own long-term best interests and that of their children rather than the immediate emotional consequences of conflict and litigation.

Matthew K. Purcell is a Shareholder of Forester Purcell Stowell. He has been recognized as a Certified Family Law Specialist by the California State Bar Association’s Board of Legal Specialization since 2011. Matt was the youngest CFLS in California at the time he received this prestigious recognition of expertise in the field.

Matt has more than a decade of experience handling a range of family law issues, as well as guardianships and juvenile dependency. Offering broad expertise to his clients, Matt has handled everything from intricate property and support issues to complex custody issues involving allegations of sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence, parental alienation, and relocations.

With significant experience in the more specialized fields of guardianships, grandparent rights, and juvenile dependency cases, Matt is adept at counseling clients in situations where Child Protective Services (“CPS”) removes children from parents based upon allegations of abuse and/or neglect.

Matt handles all aspects of dissolutions, but is particularly passionate about protecting the well-being of the children who are involved in these contentious adult situations. While he has found that successful outcomes are most often reached through negotiation and settlement, there are some cases where one or both parties simply cannot compromise. He has extensive litigation experience, including arguing in front of the Court of Appeal, if necessary. Matt was the attorney of record both at the trial court and appellate level on the published 2011 precedent-setting relocation case Jacob A. v. C.H. (196 Cal.App.4th 1591). He was also successful as appellate counsel for the biological father in the published, precedent-setting three-parent custody ruling C.A. v C.P. (Cal. Ct. App., 11/13/2018).

A graduate of Folsom High School, Matt attended college at UCLA where he graduated with a degree in History. He then earned his J.D. from the Syracuse University College of Law in New York. After braving three winters in New York, he returned to the Sacramento area where he started his law practice in 2005. Prior to forming Forester Purcell Inc., and then Forester Purcell Stowell PC, Matt worked for more than eight years as the associate attorney to one of Sacramento’s premier family law attorneys, Frank E. Dougherty.

Matt lives in El Dorado County with his family and their beloved poodle George. Beyond his law practice, Matt enjoys playing golf, watching both football and futbol, and playing Minecraft with his son.

  • Assisted paternal grandmother to obtain visitation with her six year old grandson after the death of her son left the child in the care of Mother who would not allow contact with grandmother.  Obtained temporary visitation and after multiple contested hearings negotiated long term monthly visitation.
  • Assisted grandparents through very contentious litigation to obtain guardianship of their teenage granddaughter who was having serious mental health issues in the care of Mother that were not being properly treated.
  • Represented Mother in high-conflict custody action involving multiple experts and CPS to defend against allegations of alienation and emotional abuse of young son.  Following four-day evidentiary hearing Mother was allowed to maintain custody.
  • Represented Mother in dissolution and post-judgment custody modification to obtain primary custody with supervised visitation to Father following Father’s substance abuse and domestic violence.  Successfully obtained primary custody and imputed income to Father for child support.
  • Represented Father in interstate dissolution and relocation case.  Successfully negotiated Marital Settlement Agreement and custody arrangement allowing shared custody despite both parents relocating.
  • Represented Physician to obtain primary custody of his children in light of substance abuse by Mother.
  • Successfully guided Father through juvenile dependency action and dismissal of petition and allegations against him.
  • Successfully negotiated Marital Settlement Agreement for Mother in highly conflicted dissolution involving multiple real estate holdings, complex self-employment calculations as well as allegations of abuse and neglect of children.
  • Represented Mother in grievance against CPS for “sustained” allegations of abuse, resulting in CPS changing the findings and Mother being removed from the Child Abuse Centralized Index (CACI).
  • Represented Mother of children removed from her care by CPS for false allegations of child abuse against Father. After a six day trial, successfully obtained dismissal of the case and return of the children to Mother.
  • Represented Sacramento County Sheriff through contentious dissolution, post-judgment custody proceedings, and against three separate allegations of Domestic Violence by his ex-wife, all of which were dismissed by the court at trial. Sherriff was granted full custody of the minor child after years of dispute.
  • Represented same-sex couple in independent adoption of infant daughter.
  • Represented grandparents in probate court to obtain guardianship over a twelve-year-old child who was being neglected by the parents.
  • Represented Mother in custody proceedings and after trial successfully obtained primary custody of the children despite mediator’s recommendations to the contrary.
  • Represented Mother contesting guardianship proceedings over her children and successfully obtained dismissal of the guardianship after two-day trial.
  • Represented Mother seeking relocation with her young child to Texas and successfully negotiated a custody settlement allowing the relocation.
  • Represented Wife in post-judgment spousal support proceedings and successfully obtained an imputation of a six figure income to husband, resulting in a higher spousal support amount for Wife.
  • Attorney of record both at the trial court and appellate level, on the published 2011 precedent-setting relocation case Jacob A. v. C.H. (196 Cal.App.4th 1591).
  • Appellate counsel for the biological father in the published, precedent-setting three-parent custody ruling C.A. v C.P. (Cal. Ct. App., 11/13/2018).
  • Practices primarily in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, and El Dorado Counties, although he has handled cases throughout Northern California.

Syracuse University College of Law

  • Juris Doctor, 2004

University of California, Los Angeles

  • Bachelor of Arts, History, 2000

Selected for inclusion by rating from attorney peers and/or research team for:

  • Northern California Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list, 2016-2019 (eligible candidates are 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less)
  • Sacramento Magazine’s Top Lawyers in Family Law, 2016, 2019
  • Sacramento Business Journal Best of the Bar in Family Law, 2017

Sacramento County Bar Association

  • Preparing Your DV Case / Mock DV Trial (Presenter – Nov 2017 Family Law Section Domestic Violence Trial Advocacy Workshop)
  • Overview of Web-based Communication Sites for Co-Parents (Presenter – Sept. 2015 Multi-Disciplinary Seminar on Contested Child Custody Cases)

Placer County Bar Association

  • Family Law 4-part Series: Part 2 – Child Preferences from the Attorney Panel (Panelist, September 2019)

Continuing Education of the Bar

  • Issues Involving Children (Presenter – July 2019 Family Law Intensive Course Livecast) – course covers Parentage issues; Jurisdiction and venue; Factors to determine parenting rights; Use of mediation; Use of experts; Counsel for children; Modification proceedings; Termination of parental rights
  • Introduction to Juvenile Dependency Practice (Presenter – April 2019 Livecast)
  • Issues Involving Children, Lesson Plan 5 (Presenter – August 2017 Family Law Intensive Course Livecast)
  • Custody Issues—the Best Interests of the Child Standard (Presenter – January 2016 Livecast)
  • Non-Marital Relationships/Issues; Child Support (Presenter –  2015 Family Law Intensive Course)
  • Issues Involving Children (Presenter – 2015 Family Law Intensive Course)

National Business Institute (“NBI”)

  • Divorce Cases From Start to Finish – Initial Interviews and Pleadings, Discovery Guidelines, and Case Management Tips (Presenter – 2014 continuing education seminar, Sacramento)

  • Association of Certified Family Law Specialists
  • California Lawyers Associaton – Family Law Section, State Bar of California
  • Sacramento County Bar Association
  • Placer County Bar Association

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