The State Bar of California


Knowledgeable Family Law Attorneys Serving the East Bay and Beyond Divorce

Even if a divorce is relatively amicable, it may be a stressful experience for both spouses because of the legal complexities and how much is often at stake. At the Hayward firm of MacKenzie & Associates, our family law attorneys provide seasoned legal counsel to East Bay residents and others who are seeking a divorce. We have handled a wide variety of divorce cases, including divorces in which the parties largely agree on the division of assets and child custody issues, as well as divorces in which the situation becomes contentious. Since no two marriages are alike, our Alameda County divorce lawyers understand that each proceeding must be approached with careful consideration and planning. Our firm is just two miles from the courthouse, which makes it easy and efficient for us to represent you there.

Understanding California’s Divorce Requirements

In California, there are three primary ways that couples may terminate a marriage or a registered domestic partnership: a divorce, a legal separation, or an annulment. As a general rule, California does not require both parties to consent to terminate the marriage. Occasionally, one spouse may initiate a divorce proceeding and obtain a default judgment in the event that the other spouse refuses to cooperate in the process. Also, California has adopted a no-fault approach to divorce. This means that the spouse seeking to terminate the marriage is not required to show evidence of misconduct by the other spouse for the divorce to be legally approved. Instead, the spouse seeking the divorce (or both spouses) may state that they are experiencing irreconcilable differences, which means that they cannot get along.

In order to get a divorce, the parties must meet California’s residency requirements. At least one of the parties to the marriage must have resided in California for at least six months and resided within the county where the divorce proceeding will be filed for the last three months.

While a divorce will end a marriage, a legal separation is designed for couples who are not interested in divorcing but who want to live apart. A legal separation provides a couple with an opportunity to discuss issues regarding the division of property and child custody. A legal separation proceeding also allows the parties to seek court orders from a judge concerning child support, spousal support, and any domestic violence restraining orders that may be appropriate. Also, if the parties meet the divorce proceeding residency requirement during the legal separation, they may amend the petition to obtain a divorce. Our divorce attorneys can advise Alameda County residents and other people in the Bay Area on whether a legal separation or a divorce may be better suited to their needs.

California courts have many requirements when it comes to initiating a divorce proceeding, including completing certain forms and providing the court with specific documents. The forms that you must file with the court and the documents that you must provide depend on whether your spouse and you have reached an agreement about certain issues, including child custody rights if you have children, as well as financial support issues and the distribution of any marital assets. It is advisable to consult an fexperienced lawyer to ensure that your interests and rights are protected.

According to the California court system, obtaining a judgment in a divorce proceeding takes at least six months to complete, starting from the date that the party filing for divorce serves their spouse with the Petition. In some cases, especially in high-asset divorces, the proceeding may take longer than six months. For couples who have been married for less than five years or who have been in a registered domestic partnership for less than five years, a summary dissolution may be available. This expedited process requires the parties to meet certain requirements, such as having no mutual children, either biological or adopted.

Discuss Your Situation with a Divorce Lawyer in Alameda County

The team of tenacious lawyers at MacKenzie & Associates has assisted people throughout the Bay Area with resolving divorce proceedings. Whether your divorce is amicable and routine or involves complex legal issues and a contentious relationship, we are ready to help you protect your interests and assert your rights. We provide a free telephone consultation to help you learn about your legal options, so call us at (510) 537-7200 or contact us online to seek guidance from our Alameda County divorce attorneys. We also are available to assist you if you need a child custody lawyer or assistance with any other issues that may arise in a family law proceeding.

Client-Recommended Representation
"Great professional compassionate attorney. Stuart is a focused attorney who listens." Marilyn S.
"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." Divorce Client