Finding the right person to plan a life with is a goal many hope to achieve. Perhaps you married your high school sweetheart and dreamed of having children and growing old together. Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, couples reach a point where a relationship can’t be saved. When the decision has been made to end a partnership, the future can seem uncertain and bleak.
The effect of divorce on children is a common concern for many parents. Making the right choices in all child-related matters can help ease the transition. In Oklahoma, parents are required to take a four-hour class concerning children in divorce, which will help prepare the family during the proceeding. In all Oklahoma custody cases, the presiding judge will make rulings with the welfare of the children in mind.
There are two forms of child custody: legal and physical. In Oklahoma, either form of custody can be shared between both parents or awarded to just one caregiver. Legal custody refers to parents having the right to make decisions concerning important matters in the lives of the children, such as in the areas of education and religion. Physical custody describes where the children live.
Although split custody exists, it is granted more infrequently in the Oklahoma court system than the other possible arrangements. In split custody, one person may become the custodial parent of one child and the other spouse will become the primary caregiver of another dependent.
Child support is calculated through a basic formula and enforced by the court. Failure to pay child support is a punishable offense, and those that fall behind in payments could face civil charges, jail and revocation of a driver’s license. Some of the factors the court will use to determine what amount is owed by each parent include:
- The gross income of each parent
- The number of children in the household
- The costs for childcare, health insurance and other responsibilities
- The parenting time of each spouse
In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, along with the rest of the state, property is designated as either marital or separate. Assets and debts that have been acquired during the marriage will generally belong to both spouses.
Division Of Property
Couples that are dividing property must prove that separate items were never commingled. Sometimes property started out being separate, like in the case of a bank account, but became commingled when the other spouse made deposits to the account. In this case, the property could be labeled as marital.
In Oklahoma, property and debts are divided equitably, not evenly. Often the court will award property based on the financial needs of each spouse, the tax considerations of awarding items and the contribution of each person to the assets and debts. Some commonly divided property items include:
- Loans taken out in the marriage
- Credit card debt
- Other liabilities
- Real estate
- Retirement accounts
- Stocks and bonds
In Oklahoma, there are two types of divorce – fault and no-fault. With a fault divorce it is necessary to establish one of the grounds such as, desertion, was committed. In a no-fault divorce, a couple must simply cite incompatibility as the reason for the end of the relationship. There are other options in Oklahoma, aside from divorce, to terminate a legal union. As alternatives to divorce, it is also possible to pursue a legal separation or file for an annulment.
A legal separation is different from the notion of couples voluntarily living in different homes without court involvement. When spouses legally separate, the process is similar to a divorce in that issues such as visitation, support and property division are addressed, yet couples remain married. Couples that file for legal separation are not subject to Oklahoma’s six-month residency requirement.
When spouses decide to file a legal separation over divorce this route can allow for spousal reconciliation time. Other reasons to legally separate may be for financial aspects or religious beliefs.
The court defines a marriage that should have never existed in the first place as an “invalid” union. Certain grounds need to be proven to a judge to obtain an annulment, such as:
- Mental incapacity
- Fraudulent actions
- A spouse is underage
- Spouses are close blood relation
- A spouse is already legally married
The evidence that is required for proving some of the grounds can be quite extensive; therefore, hiring a seasoned lawyer can give you the best chance of obtaining an annulment.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
The courts in Oklahoma recognize the benefits of alternative dispute resolution in the divorce process. If a couple pursues ADR, spouses will meet with a neutral third party – often a lawyer or a judge – to reach a settlement. In the process, a mediator will help by exploring a wide range of solutions, promoting effective communication and resolving disputes in a productive manner. ADR is a cost-effective option that also saves time and often prevents the need for a trial.
When going through a divorce, the decisions that need to be made can be difficult. Knowing the Oklahoma divorce laws, with the assistance of an experienced attorney, can help couples make good choices that work for their needs. Because a divorce is an emotionally charged event, it may be challenging to maintain a clear perspective regarding the steps that need to be taken.
Whether there is a question on property division or a concern over child custody arrangements, a skilled Oklahoma City lawyer can offer sound legal advice in order to help you achieve a positive outcome.
The attorney you hire to represent your interests can make a significant difference. Selecting a lawyer with a concentration in family law, as opposed to general practice, is a wise choice. Look for an attorney with experience in helping other couples with similar challenges. You don’t want to trust your future to a legal professional without the required skill set.
To begin the divorce process, talk about your case and learn more about the legal options available to you, fill out the free case review form and we’ll put you in contact with an experienced attorney. It’s simple, it’s safe and it’s FREE.