Going through the divorce or separation process in San Mateo County can be an emotionally charged, highly sensitive ordeal. With numerous factors to take into consideration, the process can quickly turn complicated. What was initially an amicable split can become contentious, and what should be straightforward can consume your life with stress and uncertainty about your future.
In such volatile circumstances, having knowledgeable, experienced legal counsel by your side is invaluable. Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., has the knowledge, experience, and compassion to help you navigate through the most complex divorce in the bay area and throughout the state of California. We proudly represent clients throughout all of San Mateo County, including those in Foster City, Daly City, Menlo Park, South San Francisco, San Carlos, San Bruno, and Burlingame.
When You Need a Divorce Lawyer in San Mateo, CA
You might need a divorce lawyer in San Mateo if you have a complex case. If your divorce or dissolution involves high-value property, complicated assets, a business, children, pets, conflict or other factors that will complicate matters, a lawyer can help. Your attorney can guide you down the correct path for your divorce, whether that is mediation or trial. If you find out your spouse has hired a lawyer, it is usually an indicator that you should hire one as well. Contact an attorney if you have any questions or concerns about your divorce.
Trustworthy, Professional Representation for All Divorce Proceedings in San Mateo
Our attorneys are well-equipped with the education, experience, knowledge, and resources to be a formidable ally throughout your divorce proceedings. We work with you to consult, advise, and initiate comprehensive legal strategies devised specifically for your unique circumstances and situations.
Throughout the dissolution process, we are not only professional and thorough, but also compassionate and sympathetic to your needs. We communicate our intentions through every step of the process, informing you of our decisions and our strategies. Our legal team is well-versed in all divorce situations and any other peripheral issues that may arise, including:
- Temporary orders for support, custody, and marital property
- Any disputes regarding property division
- Any disagreements involving custody, visitation rights and child support
- All matters of financial support, such as alimony and Marvin actions
- LGBT proceedings such as domestic partnerships and same-sex marriages
- Prenuptial agreements
- Restraining orders
- Post-divorce modifications and enforcement
We utilize our comprehensive knowledge of family law to give our clients peace of mind during what could be a monumentally stressful experience, and the security to recognize that they are in good hands.
Determining the Proper Course of Separation in San Mateo County
Before filing for a divorce, it may be prudent to consider other, more practical options for separation. In the state of California, there are three main ways to terminate a marriage or registered domestic partnership.
- A divorce is the most commonly known method of separation. You may file for divorce if you claim “irreconcilable differences” with your spouse. This is an official dissolution of your marriage – once the divorce is finalized, you are considered single in the eyes of the court.
- A legal separation is an alternative for those who do not necessarily want to proceed with a dissolution of their marriage. It does not officially end their marriage – you cannot marry or enter into a domestic partnership if you are legally separated. This is a viable solution for those who do not want to get a divorce due to religious reasons, personal beliefs or plans to reconcile the partnership at a later time.
- An annulment is a declaration by a court that your marriage is legally invalid. Essentially, it is as if the marriage never happened. In the state of California, marriages are not valid is they are incestuous, bigamous, or do not follow standard marriage laws such as minimum age requirements. An annulment may also be requested if marriage occurred due to coercion, fraud, or other forms of incapacitation.
At Schoenberg Family Law, P.C., we are committed to giving you all the information necessary to make an informed decision on the termination of your marriage or domestic partnership. We understand the gravity of the situation, exercising open communication and full transparency to ensure you are fully informed of all the options available to you.
Requirements for Divorce in San Mateo County
Regardless of the type of marriage termination, there are a number of requirements that must be met before beginning the divorce process.
It’s important to note that there may be residency requirements based upon which avenue of marriage termination you choose.
- For a divorce in California, you must have resided in the state for the last 6 months, and the country where you plan to file for divorce for the last 3 months.
- For a legal separation in California, you may file as long as one of you is residing in the state.
- An annulment does not have any residency requirements, due the legal nature of the marriage.
California law dictates a mandatory 6-month waiting period before a divorce is finalized. This starts from the date the person filing for divorce officially serves their spouse or partner about the divorce.
Additionally, as California is a “no-fault” divorce state, the filing spouse or partner does not need to prove wrongdoing in order to justify a divorce. In the same vein, it is not necessary for both spouses/partners to agree to end the marriage in order to file for a dissolution.
Resolving Your Separation Out of Court in San Mateo
Even if both parties in a marriage or domestic partnership mutually agree to the termination of a marriage, a transition into official court proceedings may amplify the emotional impact of the event. Even the most civilized divorce cases may quickly turn contentious when aspects such as custody rights and division of property are thoroughly analyzed. Additionally, the change in a family dynamic can have enormous emotional ramifications for both parents and children, no matter how amicable the split. By introducing a judge into the process, there may be a sense of loss of control and civility in the situation. In these cases, there may be other options to resolve a divorce or separation – without resorting to official court proceedings.
The Role of Mediation in San Mateo Divorces
Mediation may aid partners in reaching an agreement they can both accept. A mediation is less formal than in an official courtroom and can help spouses/partners talk through any issues or disputes they may have in a civilized manner. In this way, disputes are settled by the two spouses – and not dictated by the final word of a judge. Mediators do not make decisions and cannot force you to follow their recommendations.
A qualified, experienced lawyer can ease the emotional process of separation significantly. Schoenberg Family Law, P.C. can give you counsel regarding any methods to resolve your divorce out of court and keep you well-informed on the best process for your needs. Our San Mateo family law attorneys will do everything in their power to help you understand all the tools in your hand during this time of need.
Property Division Laws in California
A divorce will look different from state to state, as each state has unique property division laws. Some states divide marital property evenly down the middle, while others distribute property equitably. It is important to understand California’s property division laws before your divorce. Understanding how the courts determine property division could encourage you and your spouse to collaborate on a plan instead of taking your case to trial.
California is a community property state. State laws hold that all property acquired during a marriage has joint ownership between both spouses. Equal ownership means the courts will divide property evenly – 50/50 – during a divorce case. The length of your marriage or fault for divorce will not make a difference in the division of property. You will get to keep any property you came into the marriage with (separate property), but must split marital property equally.
You and your spouse have the option of agreeing on property division rather than leaving the matter to a judge. The California divorce courts allow all couples to create property division plans among themselves before the law will intervene. If you and your spouse can work together to sort out who will keep real estate, family businesses, vehicles, furniture, assets, pets, savings, retirement accounts, debts, and other properties, you may be able to avoid bringing the issue before a judge. Otherwise, a judge will split all marital property in half between you two.
Laws in California on Spousal Support and Alimony
Unlike property division, California divorce laws do take into account the length of the marriage when making spousal support (alimony) determinations. In general, if you have been married for less than 10 years, you will be eligible for spousal support for half the length of the marriage. A six-year union, for example, would lead to three years of spousal maintenance. Marriages longer than 10 years, however, do not have set alimony amounts. A judge has the freedom to decide the duration of spousal support for longer marriages based on the unique facts of each case. The amount of money a judge may award in alimony should be reasonable to allow the recipient to maintain his or her standard of living post-divorce.
For the most part, a judge may award alimony if a significant income disparity exists between the spouses in a divorce case. If one spouse contributed to the marriage by giving up a career to take care of children, for example, that spouse may be eligible for spousal support from the higher-earning spouse. Factors a judge may take into account include the needs of each party, the ability of one spouse to pay, the obligations and assets of each party, the age and health of each spouse, domestic violence, hardships, and the duration of the marriage.
Child Custody, Visitation and Child Support Agreements
One of the most critical aspects of a divorce case involving children is child custody. Even couples who agree on all other elements of a divorce often encounter challenges when it comes to child custody, visitation and child support. Understanding how the courts handle these matters can help you and your spouse decide which arrangement might be best for your family.
- One parent may have primary custody of the kids while the other has secondary custody, or both parents can share custody equally. In other cases, only one parent may have custody. Parents may also have legal vs. physical custody. Legal custody refers to the ability to make important decisions for the child, such as education or health care.
- Parents can arrange their own custody agreement without a judge’s intervention if they can create a parenting plan they can both agree upon. Otherwise, a judge will make the decision for the parents during a hearing.
- A judge will make a child custody decision based on factors such as each parent’s relationship with the child, the child’s needs, a history of domestic violence, and whether either parent can care for the child. The ultimate standard, however, is the child’s best interests.
- If a judge grants one parent visitation only, that parent may have scheduled visitation (such as on holidays or special occasions), reasonable visitation or supervised visitation. The other parent will be the primary caretaker.
- The courts may order one parent to pay the other child support if it believes the paying parent can afford these payments and if the recipient has primary custody of the kids. The amount of child support required depends on each spouse’s income. Child support payments will generally last until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever event is later.
A judge will rule according to what he or she believes is best for the child in question based on an in-depth investigation of the situation. A judge may allow a child to state his or her preference for living arrangements if the child is old enough and mature enough; however, the judge does not have to decide according to what the child prefers. Before your custody battle goes to court, try to work things out with your spouse. Agreeing on custody and support arrangements could help your family avoid a difficult trial.
Resources for San Mateo County Divorce
Any procedures and processes relating to divorce or separation in San Mateo County go directly through the courts – in this case, the San Mateo County Superior Court. For any general information, you can contact the Superior Court via phone at (650) 261-5100. For any other divorce-related matters, you may visit the Southern Branch of the Superior Court:
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063
Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The Southern Branch of the Superior Court of San Mateo County contains the Clerk’s Offices. Located on the first floor, this is where you can officially file for divorce or legal separation, and also pose any questions about what other forms must be filed.
Additionally, the Superior Courts offer a Family Law Facilitator, who offers free services to those who do not have legal representation. One office is located on the second floor of the Southern Branch, and another office is located at the Northern Branch:
- 1050 Old Mission Road, South San Francisco, CA
- Office Hours: Wednesday: 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Because Family Law Facilitators are a free service that offers help on a first-come, first-served basis, they are often incredibly busy and do not have the resources or knowledge pool to assist in the unique needs of your divorce.
Instead of starting the process at the Superior Courts, contact Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. Our team of seasoned divorce attorneys will be able to answer much of the same questions you may have for the courts – usually with more transparency, thoroughness, and sympathy than an overworked government employee.
Schedule a Consultation Today with San Mateo Divorce Lawyers
Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. has more than 35 years of experience in official legal proceedings involving family law and divorce. Our team of skilled divorce lawyers have the ideal mix of knowledge, professionalism, and compassion to assist our clients in their own unique circumstances.
We are always prepared to fight for our clients, and are prepared to take legal action if any matters cannot be resolved in good faith. We make our clients a priority, and we try our best to give them peace of mind through transparent communication and open dialogue. Please contact us online or call us at (650) 761-9523 if you have any questions regarding your divorce proceedings and any related issues.