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Bernie Johannes Kempen

Divorce and separation Attorney at Castro Valley, CA

4.5   22 reviews

About Bernie

Learn Bernie’s areas of practice.

5
Practice areas
  1. Divorce and separation
    30%
    Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist

    29 years, 1,500 cases

  2. Child custody
    20%
    Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist

    29 years, 1,500 cases

  3. Alimony
    10%
    Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist

    29 years, 1,500 cases

  4. Child support
    10%
    Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist

    29 years, 1,500 cases

  5. Domestic violence
    10%
    Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist

    29 years, 1,500 cases

  6. Family
    10%
    Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist. Also has experience in LGBT issues.

    29 years, 1,500 cases

  7. Guardianship
    10%
    Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist

    29 years, 1,500 cases

Humor is the key

Photos and videos

Licensed for 29 years
State CA
Status Active
Acquired 1993
Updated 09/15/2022

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.

Contact Bernie

Bernie Kempen Certified Family Law Specialist
19244 Redwood Road
Suite B
Castro Valley, CA, 94546
Kempen and Company
1301 G Street
Suite A
Modesto, CA, 95354
Kempen and Company
I Sansome
Suite 3500
San Francisco, CA, 94104
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Reviews

4.5 / 5.0
  22 customer reviews
Posted by Julie | March 9, 2020
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
So happy we chose Bernie and Debbie for help
Bernie is a very strong and "get to the point" attorney. He helped my family with a contested step- parent adoption case in which many others we consulted with were skeptical of. When we consulted with Bernie, he was very personable but was realistic with us and always honest. This steered us to hire him as our attorney. He and his paralegal, Debbie, were both amazing to work with, very patient when we had our worries, and always assured us that they would do the best they could but without making promises. They're confident and very knowledgeable people. Debbie prepared our documents very nicely and is very detailed; you can tell she pays great attention. She was very pleasant to work and communicate with. Bernie was very informative, always on top of the laws and knew exactly what he was doing. As clients of Bernie's, we noticed that he was very well respected by the court. He knew how to communicate with us without sugar coating and was very quick to share any information that came up. We hope that we won't need to contact Bernie and Debbie in the future but if issues or concerns were to come up, we won't hesitate to reach out. Thank you Bernie and Debbie for your amazing work. You're both very well informed, respected, and truly did not fail us.
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Posted by Stéphane | June 14, 2019
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Glad I found the right lawyer for my divorce
Divorce is definitely a lot of low and high, and quite a roller coaster, especially when your ex wife is just a source of constant problems. I am glad I decided to hire Bernie as my lawyer: Bernie kept me on track and gave me a lot of advices, and explanations to understand the complex process and timelines. Divorce can be extremely frustrating especially with timeline moving really slowly and your lawyer have no control of it, but Bernie was always available to reply to my email when needed. Every court appearances with Bernie went really well, and it was good to see we were both in agreement and didn't need to discuss for a long time while my ex wife and her lawyer were so unprepared. Bernie made sure that we had the time to discuss everything before going to Court so we will be prepared. My divorce has been now finalized, and still need to go through various administrative paperworks: despite the fact that I was hoping for a slightly better outcome, when I step back and look at the agreement Bernie helped negotiate, I am really pleased. I was told that a good agreement doesn't please anyone and this is the case, but really with what's happening for me post divorce, the agreement we ended negotiating is quite good for me. Not only Bernie has been a great lawyer but I want to say that Debbie his paralegal assistant has been truly awesome all along. It's good to work with a solid team when going through such difficult time. So thank you Debbie for all your hard work too. I will definitely recommend Bernie for anyone in need of a good lawyer (and I have already done it for a friend who is going through a painful and long divorce)
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Posted by Stacey | May 23, 2019
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Thank you
Mr. Kempen knows family law and helped to settle my divorce case. He was professional throughout and the paralegal on his case was also very fast and detail oriented. Everyone working on this case was attentive and responsive to emails and helped me to ensure I understood facets of the law/case.
Posted by anonymous | May 6, 2019
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Efficient and Experienced
Bernie was recommended to me by a trusted friend during a very emotional and tumultuous time when I didn't trust anyone. I know I was not an easy client for Bernie, but he and his paralegal, Debbie, never gave up and did what they could to establish a trusting relationship so that we could move forward as fast as I'd allow. They always had my best interests and if I had listened to Bernie from the very beginning, they probably could have completed the entire divorce process in weeks. Bernie was always a straight shooter with me, and while at times I wished I had a little more "hand holding", in the end, he was always aware of the $$ and did whatever he could to be efficient and make sure I knew what I was entitled to. Debbie was amazing and so responsive. They were able to settle the case for me out of court, which is exactly what I was hoping for. I know they were wanting me to ask for more, but they remained respectful of my needs to complete this process as soon as possible and with as little animosity as possible as well.
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Posted by M. Allen | May 3, 2019
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
I strongly recommend retaining, you won't be disappointed
My experience with Bernie and his firm has been excellent. Kempen & Company is representing me in my Marriage Dissolution. My case has been very challenging, and It was not moving forward until I retained Bernie and his firm. He came to me highly recommended from a close friend who works with in the court system. He is a well-respected and knowledgeable attorney in the field of Family Law. Bernie and his firm have been very understanding, supportive and helpful guiding me through this case and process. I am grateful he is my attorney and is representing me on my case. Bernie is a man of integrity, compassion and ethics. He and his staff always respond quickly, and they will be there for you and support you as a client. He will look out for you and your best interest. I strongly recommend retaining Bernie and his firm to represent you in any Family law matters, big or small or at least speak with him/ firm you will not be disappointed. M. Allen
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Posted by anonymous | May 1, 2019
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Simply the Best.
I hired Mr. Bernie Kempen to represent me in my recent divorce case. Bernie always had my best interests at heart and did a fabulous job of keeping me honest. Bernie's knowledge of family law is impressive, to say the least. He is also extremely compassionate and sincere. He is great at calming your nerves and is really effective at helping you navigate the ugliness of a divorce gracefully. If you find yourself having to cope with something as unfortunate as a divorce, you need someone on your side who is honest, ethical, composed, compassionate and has thorough knowledge of family law; Bernie is all this and so much more! I cannot thank him enough and will forever be grateful to him for representing me.
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Posted by Tara | June 17, 2015
Grateful mother
Bernie and his staff are A plus! They always answerd any questions I had if not that day then that week. I was so thankful when Bernie sat next to me at the mediation and helped me to reveal other important info that I was not thinking of at the time because I was so nerves from the situation. Bernie was also alert when we were In front of the jude and pointed out things I didn't even think of. His staff was very patient with me as well, even when I wanted them to change things they already worked on. I have gotn the out come I was looking for with Bernie that I haven't been on my own. I wish that I could always have Bernie buy my side to help with my sons situation because he makes a big difference. I am truly thankful for him and his staff. From a mother that needed help when she dosent have any but from Bernie.
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Posted by anonymous | June 6, 2015
Lucky I found him.
I was lucky to find him during my emergency situation. My ex-spouse and I had, for the most part, gotten along fairly well over the few years we had been divorced. We drew up a MSA together that covered custody of our daughter, division of property, etc. when we divorced. That was all thrown away when she blindsided me with court papers served late in the evening one night. She had not only lawyered up, but her lawyer had done a 'short order' which gave me very little time to find a lawyer and defend myself. She was essentially trying to take me for everything! I found Bernie and described my situation to him; he acted very quickly and was able to delay things in court long enough for me to get my bearings on the situation. Bernie and his staff not only navigated the situation in court, but they also knew how to "deal" with the other lawyer, who was very aggressive and confrontational. He kept doing certain things that, at the time, confused me, but when things finally played out his strategy became obvious. And as a result, her lawyer ended up offering to settle. The ex-spouse didn't get nearly everything she wanted and the blow to me was softened quite a bit by Bernie's actions. One thing I've realized about the court system is that it's anything but fair, especially in my county. If you're the father of a little girl and mom can't be proven unfit, don't expect anything more than 40% custody. Every lawyer I spoke to told me this and that's exactly what ended up happening despite our best efforts. The judge that handles these cases is very gender biased, in my opinion. All in all, Bernie and his staff were always on top of things, they were also reachable and extremely knowledgeable and responsive. I would definitely recommend them to anyone.
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Posted by anonymous | March 17, 2015
Honest and ethical attorney
I worked in the legal field for over 10 years and it is rare to find such an honest and ethical attorney like Bernie Kempen. He did an outstanding job for me regarding custody and support.
Posted by Diana | February 25, 2015
Represented me in case over jurisdiction.
Very pleased and at felt at ease with Bernie Kempen representing my case in Stanislaus County. I reside almost 5 hours away and my ex tried to claim jurisdiction of our child in his county by false documents and lying about serving me. Bernie Kempen represented me two times in Stanislaus County court which I was not able to be present for and handled everything quickly and professionally. I wish he was in Kern County to represent my case here! Very pleased!!!
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Response from Bernie Kempen February 26, 2015
Diana, it was a pleasure representing you and obtaining the appropriate remedy. One of the goals of my representation of my clients is to make sure that when they wake up in the morning with a knot in their stomach about some stressful litigation, it goes away quickly when they know that we are taking care of it for them and that they can continue to live productive lives with the least amount of distractions. Thank you and best wishes.
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Posted by anonymous | January 6, 2015
Game Changer Attorney.
I had the pleasure of consulting with Atty Kempen about some certain grey areas about my case. While one attorney said he will research and get back to me on this, Atty Kempen has a straight answer for me right away. He is very knowledgeable and direct in his answer, very creative in attacking a certain scenario and a game changer in your favor if you are having issues or not satisfied with the outcome of your case.
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Response from Bernie Kempen January 14, 2015
Thank you for the review. Crucial to the analysis of options in a client's case is the ability to spot the issues and provide a range of potential remedies for discussion. I'm pleased that I was able to do that for you.
Posted by Ann | December 5, 2014
Thank you!
Mr. Kempen took time to answer all of my questions. He helped me by both providing his expertise and compassion, a combo you don't find often in the profession. I would recommend him and will return to him if services are again needed. Thank you!
Response from Bernie Kempen December 8, 2014
Ana, I always strive to understand not only the legal aspects of your case, but also how the situation affects you personally. It is my goal to make sure that when you wake up in the morning, that you know that you have a legal advocate in your corner who will take on the burden of your legal representation so that you can continue with the daily aspects of your life. I hope that with the information you got from me, you may be able to resolve your issues without any court intervention. If not, I'm a phone call away and I answer all calls directly at 415-806-1974 24/7. Best wishes!
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Posted by David | September 16, 2014
Exceptional Consultation and Knowledge of the Law
I went to Bernie with a dilema regarding my ex wife which could have cost me $5,000 or more. She was trying to extort money from me before she complied with the judges order to sign over the house deed to me. I was in closing in my refinance and the timing was very important to get this done. In any case, I had spoken with 3 other attorneys before Bernie, and it wasnt until after our conversation that I felt confident enough to send her a letter. In this letter, I mentioned how this could go down for her if i took it to court. ...ie how much it would cost her, and how I could potentially sue her for the injuries caused by her actions. All of this information was gathered in one conversation with Bernie. I offerred her $900 only, and she accepted, knowing if we went to court she would get nothing, I would win, and then I would sue her for damages. Bernie knows his stuff. His office is pleasnt, as is his staff. It feels like you are dealing with a friend, not an attornerny. I am very happy with his services and would recomend him highly.
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Response from Bernie Kempen September 18, 2014
Thank you David. I am pleased you were able to resolve your issue in a cost effective manner without hiring an attorney to litigate the issue for you. Family issues should be resolved around the kitchen table or over coffee at a coffee shop. Court intervention should always be the last resort. When family are able able to come together and make an agreement, they are generally more satisfied because they are invested in the outcome, rather than having a robed individual make choices for them instead.
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Posted by Emmitt | November 27, 2013
Ace of Attorneys.
From the first phone conversation alone Bernie made me feel I have a shot at being with my children again. Now I will not say he made a promise that we will succeed but the initial concern for my situation from himself and his assistant gave me the courage to stand up for what I believe. When meeting with Bernie and Liz I was a little reserved an didn't know how to express the hurt I had endured from not being able to have a relationship with my two children. Even still they were ready to fight by my side for what is right and for the effort alone I am eternally grateful. Thank you in advance Bernie though the fight has yet to begin I know you will give it the best shot you've got.
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Response from Bernie Kempen May 23, 2014
Thank you Emmitt. We're getting there! It's always easier when we have a solid professional working relationship.
Posted by Christine | March 21, 2013
Grateful, Grateful, Grateful
I used Bernie and his staff during my first divorce over 10 years ago. I will be ever grateful for the guidance he gave me, as I was completely lost. The other parent was a complete snake and used my own friends and family members to gain inside information during our divorce proceedings, even setting me up in unusual situations to make it appear that I was someone that I was not. I had no idea that people that I once trusted and loved would ever this to me, but Bernie caught on and advised me that my divorce was very unusual and that there was someone giving my Ex information that he was using against me so that I would have to constantly contact my Attorney and pay more money. Bernie was very gracious and gave me discounts on my billing. If I would have just listened to him in the first place and kept people out of my divorce I would have been much better off but like I said, I would have never believed that those I loved would hurt me and my children for the sake of being paid off by my former husband. What a joke, my ex has like 8 kids, 3 with me and the others by different women. My Ex was so upset because Bernie uncovered his Self employment income and he would not file taxes as he knew how the child support system worked, he thought he had Bernie fooled and he told me to keep Bernie off of his A--! It humors me now but back then it was devastating since my children would ultimately pay for his anger. Bernie Kempen, Thank you so very much. In my opinion I would pay all over again to have such Seasoned Representation. People beware when choosing an Attorney. Watch out for newly licensed attorneys, make sure they have at least 10 years under their belts so that they can Fight and Win for you. Thank you Bernie!
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Response from Bernie Kempen March 22, 2013
Thank you, Christine. Many clients thank me years later for telling them the truth they didn't want to hear. Those are difficult times for the best of people and it's important that you have an attorney who looks out for your best interests; does not necessarily do you bidding and does not promise unrealistic results. The satisfaction I get from my job is to do my best for the client on the facts presented.
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Posted by anonymous | January 24, 2012
A Brilliant and fair man
Perhaps the most devastating time in my life and my trust in humanity was destroyed; yet I needed help to navigate the Californian legal system, and an advocate for my remaining family. Bernie Kempen and his staff were there to assist every step of the way. He conducted himself with honesty and dignity, he helped me to see past my initial emotional reaction and formulate a fair plan for my children and I.
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Response from Bernie Kempen February 3, 2012
Thank you. Our job is to recognize the anguish you experience on a day to day basis and help you navigate your way through the legal and emotional quagmire. Our goal is make sure that you are able to re-establish yourself with stability in your environment and make sure that your children's best interests remain paramount.
Posted by anonymous | December 29, 2011
I highly recommend Mr. Kempen and his firm.
Mr. Kempen assisted me with my child custody and support matters. He was diligent, knowledgable, and fought hard for me in Court. I ended up with a result that was fair and beneficial for my children, I highly recommend Mr. Kempen and his staff.
Response from Bernie Kempen January 22, 2012
Thank you! I strive to be at your side and on your side. I believe that I serve my client's best interest when I am able to come up with results that are in the best interests of the children, who do not have the same abilities as adults to handle adversity and dysfunction. Another important aspect is client service. I strive the make sure that any queries my clients may have are promptly handled
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Posted by anonymous | December 29, 2011
Excellent Help for my two cases
I worked with Mr. Kempen twice and both times I was pleased with my case outcomes. He is professional, thorough and explained the process very clearly. I did not have any unknown surprises. When he handled my divorce I found he was fair and we eliminated much of the stress with his approach.
Response from Bernie Kempen January 22, 2012
Thank you! A very important aspect of my representation is that I want my clients to know that when they go to sleep at night, that they are assured that their case is in good hands and they can carry on with the rest of their lives with minimal distractions.
Posted by anonymous | July 11, 2020
This review is from a person who hired this attorney.
| Hired Attorney
Mr.
Bernie worked hard for me in a horrible time in my life. He understood my issues and worked to help my case get over as soon as possible. He also took in to account my financial issues and assisted in keeping the bills from pilling up to much.
Posted by anonymous | February 27, 2015
Seasoned & Experienced
Some people say lawyer’s not your friend. You are a mere one-time client for them but their relationships with the court are permanent as long as they are in business. If that’s so, it’s better to have a seasoned, experienced and recognized lawyer. Mr. Kempen is very seasoned and conservative. He knows how the system works. He doesn't sugarcoat harsh realities. I expect him to show his high qualities as a game changer in these previous reviews for my case.
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Response from Bernie Kempen March 7, 2015
Thank you for the review. It's important for my clients to know that I am fully committed to their case, not their cause. My job is to represent the facts of my client's case to the court in the best possible way. My client's should always be aware of the upside and the downside of potential litigation. That's why sugarcoating serves no-one. Every client deserves a thorough analysis of options, including the option of 'let it be".
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Cost

Rates
  • Retainer Always
Payment methods
Cash, Check, Credit Card

Resume

AVVO RATING 9.9 (Superb)

Work Experience

  • Sole Practitioner
  • Kempen&Company
  • 1996 - Present
  • Associate
  • Cunningham & Lansden
  • 1993 - 1996
  • Clerk
  • Alameda County Public Defender's Office
  • 1990 - 1993
  • Marketing Director
  • Biomed Canada
  • 1987 - 1990
  • General Manager
  • Casterm Plastics Los Angeles
  • 1984 - 1987
  • Partner
  • Linestar Productions
  • 1981 - 1984
  • Account Director
  • J. Walter Thompson Ad Agency
  • 1978 - 1981
  • Advertising Manager
  • FIAT SA
  • 1977 - 1978
  • Articled Law Clerk
  • Balsillie Watermeyer and Bosman
  • 1974 - 1976
View all work experience

Education

  • Golden Gate University School of Law
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • 1993
  • University of Cape Town South Africa
  • B.A.
  • 1978

Legal Cases

  • Rivera
  • Presumed Gay Parent Status

Associations

  • Friends of The Company (Young People's Teen Musical Theatre Company
  • President
  • 2012 - Present
  • Castro Valley Arts Foundation
  • President
  • 2007 - Present
  • Alameda County Bar Association
  • 2004 - Present
  • Castro Valley Rotary Club
  • Past President
  • 2003 - Present
  • Stanislaus County Bar Association
  • 1993 - Present
  • FoSOTA (Friends of the San Francisco School of the Arts)
  • Trustee/Board member
  • 2014 - 2015
  • Castro Valley Matters
  • Caretaker Board Member
  • 2014 - 2015
  • Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of The Arts Site Council
  • Chairperson
  • 2010 - 2011
  • Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of The Arts PTSA
  • VP
  • 2008 - 2011
  • Creekside School
  • PTSA President
  • 2006 - 2008
  • CVHS
  • PTA President
  • 2006 - 2007
  • CVHS
  • Boosters Club
  • 2006 - 2007
  • Association of Certified Family Law Specialists
  • 2002 - 2004
  • Proctor School
  • Site Council Member
  • 2002 - 2003
  • Proctor School
  • President PTA
  • 2001 - 2002
View all associations

Languages Spoken

  • English
  • Afrikaans

Awards

  • BV Rated
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2015
  • Certified Specialist - Family Law
  • State Bar of California
  • 2015
  • BV Rated
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • 2014
  • Certified Specialist - Family Law
  • State Bar of California
  • 2014
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • CVUSD
  • 2006
View all awards

Publications

Speaking Engagements

  • Rotary Club of Castro Valley
  • South Africa
  • 2007
  • Rotary Club of Modesto East
  • South Africa
  • 2006

Attorney endorsements

Received (8)
Given (5)
Endorse Bernie
Child custody Attorney | Feb 01
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer."
Family Attorney | Jan 24
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse Mr. Kempen because I know he can do the job for you correctly and swiftly, with the utmost in professionalism."
Unknown Attorney | Jan 07
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"Top-notch attorney. Highly respected in the legal community."
Family Attorney | Dec 30
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer. Bernie is an experienced, certified family law specialist. He is also a Rotarian that lives by the motto "service above self"."
Family Attorney | May 25
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse Bernie. He is a highly skilled attorney that is well respected in the legal community."
Family Attorney | Apr 06
Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community
"I endorse this lawyer. Attorney Kempen provides thoughtful, educated and experienced answers to the questions provided herein. Attorney Kempen provides a needed service by providing voluntary and free legal assistance to the individuals herein who are in need of immediate legal answers."
Family Attorney | Feb 14
Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter
"I endorse this lawyer. I have had many cases with Bernie. He is professional, well versed in family law and has an excellent common sense approach to resolution of pending cases."
Family Attorney | Oct 06
Relationship: Opposing Counsel on matter
"I endorse this lawyer's work. Bernie is a very knowledgeable Certified Family Law Specialist. He has appeared on matters on my behalf. He has a true ability to evaluate a case in light of the applicable law and proceed accordingly. His clients are very well informed and advised. He is knowledgeable of not only the law but also the practice and customs of our legal community."
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