Divorce – Custody – Child Support

Divorce, Custody and Child Support Practice Area Image

Family Law consists primarily of legal issues involving Divorce, Child Custody, and Child Support. Below is some information about common issues that are encountered in family law cases.

Divorce

A divorce must be filed in either the county in which the petitioner has resided for the 30 days immediately preceding the filing of the divorce or in the county in which the respondent resides at the time of the filing of the divorce. When spouses file separate actions in counties that each have a proper venue, the county in which the first petition for divorce was filed is the proper county to adjudicate the divorce.

Upon the filing of a divorce, there is an order put in place to prevent either party transferring marital property unless it is in the usual course of the marriage, being used to retain a lawyer or being used to purchase necessities. This is often referred to as ‘keeping the status quo’ until the divorce is finalized.

Property Division

Oklahoma is an equitable division state. Upon divorce, the court must determine which assets are marital and which assets are separate. The court will then equitably divide the parties’ marital property and award separate property to its owner. The court has the discretion to determine what portion of the marital property should be awarded to each spouse.

Marital property is the property acquired by the parties during the marriage by the industry of the husband and wife. Separate property includes: property acquired by one of the spouses prior to marriage; property acquired by one of the spouses by gift during the marriage; property acquired by one of the spouses during the marriage through inheritance; and property acquired in exchange for separate property, unless it changes character due from separate to marital property through ‘transmutation’. If the property that would otherwise be separate is titled in both spouses’ names, a rebuttable presumption arises that half of the property was meant as a gift from one spouse to another. Oklahoma courts recognize a rebuttable presumption that property acquired during the marriage is obtained by the joint efforts of the husband and wife and is therefore marital.

Property that is separate may increase in value during the course of the marriage. If the increase is due to the efforts of skill of either spouse or marital funds, the amount of the increase is marital property. If the increase in value is due to the inherent nature of the property or market or economic factors, such as inflation, the increased value of the separate property belongs to the separate property owner. The burden is on the non-owning spouse to show that the enhancement is due to spousal efforts or marital funds.

Other factors courts consider when dividing marital property are: the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital estate, including the efforts of a homemaking spouse; the anticipated expenses of the custodial parent caring for the children; and economic fault, including the dissipation, wasting or hiding of assets.

Child Custody

A custody award in Oklahoma can be sole custody to one parent, joint custody, or split custody. Oklahoma does not prefer one arrangement over the other, nor does Oklahoma favor one gender in awarding custody in a divorce. There are two types of custody in Oklahoma.

  • Legal Custody: Legal Custody is the parent or jointly parents that get to determine the decisions for the children about what extracurricular activities, religion, doctors and others that the child will attend or participate in.
  • Physical Custody: Physical Custody is where the child physically is located.

Even when one parent is awarded sole legal custody of the child for decision-making purposes, the other parent may still receive some visitation with the child giving them some physical custody.

How to win Custody and Prepare for Trial

You need evidence. Many cases hinge on one person saying one thing and the other saying another. If you have evidence to support your position, a Court is more likely to believe your story. Common but effective ways to gather evidence and prepare for the trial are:

  1. COMMUNICATE THROUGH TEXT MESSAGING By communicating in writing, all communication you have with your Ex is documented and can be used as evidence if needed. It will also prevent your Ex from misstating anything you have said and saved the time stamp of the conversation. Always remain cordial and remember that anything you send, may be read by a judge.
  2. LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE Posting photos and statuses are fun, but they can all be used against you. It is often smarter to not post anything than to try to post happy or fun statuses because often an event that was fun for you can be misconstrued and give a negative appearance.
  3. START A JOURNAL By writing down everything, you are ensured that you will not forget when or how something occurred. Many times people will actually get a calendar and put things on it as events occur. When the trial comes, this calendar is very beneficial and shows supporting evidence that your story is accurate and true.
  4. TAKE PHOTOS Take photos of your child, your home and any place you frequently take your child such as daycare. These photos can be used to contradict any claim that your child is in danger in your custody.
  5. USE AUDIO RECORDINGS In Oklahoma, only one party needs to know that a conversation is being recorded. There are multiple free apps you can download to record a conversation or a fight that can be used later. Any time you interact with your Ex, record the interaction. This can be used as evidence at trial if your stories do not match up.

Alimony/Spousal Support

Alimony (also referred to as Spousal Support) is an amount of money that one spouse must pay to the other that does not include child support. In determining an alimony award, a Court looks at all factors but primarily considers three:

  1. a party’s ability to pay,
  2. a party’s economic need for the support, and
  3. the standard living the Party’s are used to living prior to the divorce.

Alimony is arguably the least predictable factor in a divorce because there is not a bright-line rule in how a court may calculate the amount or length of time it must be paid.

Firm’s Primary Geographical Practice Region For Divorce, Child Custody, and Child Support Cases

Large Asset Divorce Cases: Statewide in Oklahoma

Medium Asset Divorce Cases: Pryor, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Claremore, Oklahoma, Jay, Oklahoma, Shawnee, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Rogers County, Oklahoma, Wagoner County, Oklahoma, Mayes County, Oklahoma, Delaware County, Oklahoma, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma and Oklahoma County, Oklahoma.

Small Asset Divorce Cases: Pryor, Oklahoma, Claremore, Oklahoma, Jay, Oklahoma, Rogers County, Oklahoma, Wagoner County, Oklahoma, Mayes County, Oklahoma, Delaware County, Oklahoma.