Know the facts before filing for divorce in Oklahoma

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John Alberts

Talking Bedlam

By John Alberts

If you or a family member is considering divorce in Oklahoma, the following list provides basic information.

There are 10 things to know about filing for divorce in Oklahoma:

Residency Requirements– In order to be able to file for divorce, one or both of the parties must reside in Oklahoma for six (6) months. Additionally, the parties must reside in the county where they are filing for thirty (30) days prior to filing.

Petition– The document that is filed with the court to start a divorce.

Waiting Period–When the parties have minor children, the court must wait ninety (90) days from the date the Petition is filed before granting the divorce.

Decree of Dissolution of Marriage–The decree is the document that finalizes and sets out the details of the divorce. The Decree of Dissolution of Marriage outlines the details of issues like custody, child support, property division, and alimony. It is the last document filed and finalizes the divorce.

Temporary Orders–After the Petition is filed and before the Decree of Dissolution is entered, the parties may seek temporary orders. These orders offer the parties temporary guidelines on issues like custody, child support, alimony, who pays various bills, and other issues. The

Temporary Orders remain in full force and effect until the Decree is executed.

Standard Visitation–Every county in Oklahoma has a “standard visitation schedule” available at the courthouse or online. The county schedule outlines the standard school year, summer, and holiday visitation schedule for that county. It is my experience that no two counties are the same and vary greatly from one county to the next. Parties are not required to follow the standard schedule; they can enter a schedule of their own.

Child Support–When the parties have children, child support will need to be calculated and included in the Temporary Orders and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This is done by determining the parties’ gross annual incomes and other applicable expenses associated with the children. Once these numbers are determined, monthly child support payments are calculated. This provision of the Decree needs to be fully understood by both parties.

Failure to pay child support could result in an adverse judgement, tax intercept, loss of driver’s license and, in extreme cases, jail and/or prison time. Please make sure you understand this issue completely.

Support Alimony–In Oklahoma, alimony is determined based upon one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. The requesting party must first show the court they have a need for alimony. A “need” is typically proven by providing proof of income and a monthly budget. Next, the court would review the potential obligor’s proof of income and monthly budget to determine if they have an ability to pay after all of their monthly expenses are paid. Alimony is ordered on a case by case basis. There are no “guidelines” as there are with child support. If you feel you are entitled to alimony, you should discuss the issue with an attorney.

Guardian Ad Litem–A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is an attorney appointed by the court and typically paid for by the parents. The GAL’s job is to protects the child(ren)’s “best interests”. In cases where custody and visitation are at issue the court, at the request of one or both parents, may appoint a GAL. The GAL will gather information by interviewing the parents and other witnesses. The GAL then submits a report to the court regarding their findings and custody suggestions.

Modification–After the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is finalized, typically only the provisions regarding the children can be modified. Modifications regarding custody, visitation, child support and other issues can be filed with the court until the child turns eighteen (18) or graduates from high school, whichever is the last event to occur. Other details apply; please consult an attorney.

When meeting with a potential attorney to handle your divorce case, be sure to ask questions and be organized for your meeting. Having goals and objectives outlined prior to meeting with your attorney will help expedite the process and save money.

Our practice at Bedlam Law focuses primarily on family law cases. If you have questions about an item discussed in this article, or any other questions, please feel free to visit us at www.bedlamlaw.com or call us at 405-232-2444. We can help!