When it comes to matters involving family relationships or family dynamics, the situation can be complicated and emotional for everyone involved. Although the legal system offers a variety of tools that you can use to protect your rights, it is often difficult to navigate the process on your own. At MacKenzie & Associates, our divorce attorneys can guide Alameda County residents toward a bright future. We understand the stress that you are facing, and we offer compassion as well as vigorous advocacy to people in Hayward and the surrounding cities. No case is too complex or too small for us to handle.Divorce
If you wish to terminate a marriage or enter into a legal separation, there are specific laws and procedures that you must follow. Unlike people in some states, California residents are not required to establish fault before obtaining a divorce. Instead, one spouse can initiate the divorce proceeding upon a showing that the parties are experiencing irreconcilable differences. To be eligible for a divorce in California, at least one spouse must have been a resident in the state for at least six months and a resident of the county in which the proceeding was filed for at least three months. There are many things to consider when obtaining a divorce, including the division of assets, the allocation of parenting responsibilities if the spouses share children, and whether a spouse is entitled to support payments. Although the parties are free to create their own settlement agreement resolving each of these issues, if they are unable to reach an agreement, the court will conduct a hearing and craft an agreement that is meant to serve the parties’ best interests. Our Alameda County divorce lawyers can help you try to negotiate a favorable agreement or prepare you for a hearing if needed.Child Custody
There are a variety of legal options that a parent, guardian, or other interested party can use to modify their legal relationship to a minor. California has a child custody mediation program, which involves a neutral mediator who helps the parties improve their communication and try to reach an amicable resolution to a dispute. If the parties are unable to resolve their differences during mediation, a child custody matter proceeds to family court, where a judge will issue a decision regarding a parenting plan for the child. The judge is allowed to consider a wide variety of factors in creating this parenting plan, and the parties can offer evidence regarding how they think the parenting plan should be structured. In general, it will determine where the child spends their time and who has the authority to make decisions for the child regarding important matters like health care and education.
Ensuring that you will have the financial resources that you require to care for your child after a divorce or legal separation is crucial. California provides a parent who has the primary responsibility for caring for a child with the right to obtain child support payments from the other parent. There are established guidelines to assist the court with determining how much support the child requires and how long the other party must make the support payments. A judge will also consider a variety of factors when deciding whether to grant child support, including the financial situation of each party and the child’s needs.Spousal Support
Sometimes it is necessary to provide a lesser-earning spouse with support following a divorce to ensure that they retain a comparable standard of living to what they enjoyed during the marriage. Spousal support may be awarded in situations in which one spouse needs time to acquire training or look for a job, the spouses have dramatically different incomes, or one spouse became dependent on the other spouse during the course of a long marriage. Under California law, a spouse is expected to become self-supporting rather than permanently relying on spousal support. Spousal support usually will end once a spouse can support themselves.Domestic Violence
California defines domestic violence broadly and extends wide protections to people who are facing abuse or threats of abuse from people in their family or household. In general, domestic violence applies to situations in which you have been or currently are involved in a romantic, intimate relationship, or in which you are related to the other person through blood or marriage. While obvious acts of abuse such as physical violence or intimidation are clearly covered under the state’s domestic violence statute, the law also includes protections against threats of abuse, harassment, stalking, and violence against pets, in addition to the destruction of personal property. If you are dealing with domestic violence, a seasoned family law attorney can help you seek the legal protections that you need.Paternity
There are three primary methods for establishing paternity in California. The easiest method involves situations in which both parties agree on the paternity issue and sign a Declaration of Paternity that is then included as part of the child’s birth certificate. Second, a local child support agency can assist you with initiating a legal action to establish paternity for a minor child. The process can begin before the birth of the child and may involve genetic testing. Either parent can obtain assistance from the local child support agency in this regard. Finally, if the other two methods are not an option, an individual can initiate a court proceeding to have a judge issue a court order establishing paternity of the minor.Guardianships
A guardianship is designed to provide an adult supervisor for a child who is not the child’s biological parent. The guardian is provided with certain authority and decision-making responsibility for the child. Since this comes with so much power, the court must approve any guardian before they can start acting on the child’s behalf. There are a variety of ways to have a guardian appointed for a child, including obtaining assistance through Child Protective Services. Also, it is important to note that a guardianship is not akin to an adoption. In a guardianship, the parents retain legal rights regarding the child, and the guardian simply assumes certain responsibilities and decision-making authority, whereas an adoption involves one party assuming the same rights and responsibilities that a parent would have regarding a child.Consult an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Alameda County
If you are dealing with a legal issue involving the end of your marriage or the future of your children, you may be able to seek recourse through the California family law system. Knowing where to begin and understanding how to pursue the outcome that you need is challenging. At Mackenzie & Associates, our Alameda County divorce attorneys have assisted many families in Hayward and other cities in the East Bay. We understand how much is at stake and are ready to vigorously advocate for your interests. To schedule a free consultation regarding a divorce, custody, or support matter, call us now at 510-537-7200 or contact us online.
Great professional compassionate attorney. Stuart is a focused attorney who listens.
My experience with Mr. MacKenzie has also been very professional, yet down-to-earth when he explains complex legal details that have really made my first legal process a smooth one.
Stuart MacKenzie is a man of integrity. He is honest, trustworthy, very knowledgeable, very sharp and "doesn't miss a beat" with pertinent details/issues. He will advocate for you and fully represent you as a partner in your own divorce case.