Family Law

Divorce

A divorce is the legal process of terminating or dissolving a marriage.  For those actually going through a divorce, it can be so much more.  It is one of the most important times in a client’s life.  In a divorce case the court is responsible for examining all of the assets and debts a couple has accumulated and dividing them between the parties.  When children are involved, the court has the difficult task of determining which parent will be awarded custody, how much time the child spends with each parent, and what amount of child support will be awarded.  In some cases, the court must determine whether one spouse will be required to pay support alimony to the other. 

It is often a difficult and confusing process.  The dissolution of a marriage requires our clients to make tough decisions when they are at their most vulnerable.  Divorcing couples not only have to deal with the trauma of losing their spouse, their assets, and possibly their children, they also have to deal with a complicated court system that includes motions, deadlines, and court dates.

The attorneys of Law Firm of Oklahoma have a wealth of experience in Oklahoma divorce law.  We have developed the compassion and expertise necessary to help our clients through the most trying times.  We focus on the details of our clients’ divorce cases so they can focus on parenting their children and rebuilding their lives.

How does a divorce case begin?

A divorce case begins with the filing of a Petition in the District Court of the county where the parties reside.  It is designed to let the court know what issues are involved in the case and why the divorce is being requested.  Oklahoma law allows a court to grant a divorce for the following reasons:

Of all of the potential grounds for divorce, the most often requested grounds for divorce is incompatibility.  For the court to grant a divorce on the basis of incompatibility, the party filing the action, otherwise known as the Petitioner, must present evidence that his or her marriage with the opposing party, known as the Respondent, has reached a state of incompatibility that makes the success of the parties’ marriage impossible.  Usually, this can be accomplished simply through the testimony of the Petitioner.  The court does not require a Petitioner claiming incompatibility to prove that he or she was wronged in some way by the Respondent.  He or she must simply explain that the parties are too incompatible to remain married.  For this reason, many call Oklahoma a “No Fault Divorce” state.

I’ve been served with a Petition for Divorce!  What do I do now?

After a Petition is filed, the Petitioner is required to serve the Respondent.  This can be accomplished by a private process server, the county sheriff, or through certified mail.  Once the Respondent has been served with a Petition, he or she has twenty days to respond to the lawsuit.  If a Respondent fails to respond or refuses to respond within the time period allowed by law, the Petitioner has the ability to ask the court to grant a divorce under whatever terms he or she requests, without any further knowledge of the Respondent. In such a case, terms including custody of the parties’ children and the division of marital assets and debts will be settled according to the request of the Petitioner.

If you have been served with a Petition in a divorce action, it is imperative to seek the advice of a qualified Oklahoma divorce attorney as soon as possible.  The lawyers of Law Firm of Oklahoma offer free consultations to new divorce clients, and we can ensure that your rights are protected.

I also received an “Application for Temporary Orders.”  What is it?

Oklahoma allows the parties in a divorce case to ask the court for relief while a divorce action is pending.  An Application for Temporary Orders is normally filed at the beginning of a new divorce case, and it can address any number of issues.  Commonly, a party will seek temporary orders regarding the following issues:

Temporary Orders are only effective until a court has issued a final decision, otherwise known as a “Decree of Divorce,” in the case.  In many instances, a Temporary Order is viewed by the court as a trial divorce period.  If and when a trial is necessary, the Court often looks to the conduct of the parties under the Temporary Order to determine which party best manages assets and which party demonstrates superior parenting abilities.    

A Temporary Order can be just as important as the final Decree of Divorce.  A Temporary Order Hearing is often scheduled quickly after a new divorce case is filed.  If you have been served in an Oklahoma divorce case, seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected at every stage of your divorce case. 

The experienced lawyers of Law Firm of Oklahoma have assisted scores of divorce clients at all stages of their divorce cases.  Our attorneys communicate frequently with our clients to ensure they are informed of their rights, and we fight aggressively to ensure that they receive everything they deserve.

What happens next?

After the court enters a Temporary Order, the next step in an Oklahoma Divorce case is trial.  But before a divorce trial begins, a party has the often difficult task of gathering all of the evidence they will need to present to the court.  The process of acquisition of the evidence a party will present to the court is known as “Discovery.”

If child custody is an issue, the court will need to hear evidence regarding which party has been the most active in supporting the child’s academic pursuits and extra-curricular activity.  The court may also want to know which party is traditionally responsible for taking the child to medical and dental appointments or who has been most involved in the child’s life.  Much of this evidence comes in the form of witness testimony from the divorcing parents and their friends and relatives.  However, a great deal of evidence can be gathered from the documents kept by doctors, daycare providers, and a child’s school.

When property division is at issue, documentary evidence is of critical importance.  When dividing marital assets and debts, a divorce court must receive verifiable proof of the value of every asset owned by either party, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, and real estate.  After all, a court cannot divide the value of an asset if its value is unknown.  Furthermore, many people, when they believe a divorce is imminent, will begin hiding assets.  For many parties, the task of gathering this type of information seems insurmountable.

The divorce lawyers at Law Firm of Oklahoma know the discovery process well.  Our attorneys utilize all of the tools allowed by Oklahoma law to gather all of the testimony and documentary evidence available to support our clients.  We leave no stone unturned when gathering the evidence to present at trial.  Our clients are prepared and confident when they stand before the judges that decide the fate of their children and their assets.

What is a divorce trial like?

A divorce trial is not like most of the trials people have seen on television.  All of the issues in Oklahoma divorce cases are determined solely by the judge.  There is no jury, and often, the only people in the courtroom are the divorcing spouses, their attorneys, and the judge.

At a divorce trial the star witnesses are the parties.  Each testifies about their strengths and weaknesses as parents and the strengths and weaknesses of their spouse.  They also testify about all of the assets and debts they have accumulated throughout their marriage and how they would like the court to divide them. Each party will also present all of the relevant documentary evidence they have accumulated during the discovery process.

The parties also have the opportunity to call additional witnesses in support of their cases.  Teachers and mental health professionals can provide valuable information in support of a divorce case.  When a party to a divorce case testifies at trial, the judge normally takes his or her testimony with a grain of salt, and rightly so.  Parties in a divorce action are distraught by the end of their marriage and are prone to view themselves and their circumstances in a light that is skewed toward their own interests.  However, testimony from neutral parties regarding the important issues in a divorce case bolster one party’s testimony and make a favorable result more likely. 

Trial is where the attorneys at Law Firm of Oklahoma really shine.  We have tried countless divorce cases across the state.  Our experiences allow us to craft a trial strategy that advances our clients’ goals and communicates the best evidence available to the judge.  Our expertise can put you in the best possible position to achieve the results you want in your divorce case.

Do I have to go to divorce trial?

It is true that the attorneys at Law Firm of Oklahoma love to go to trial, if that is what is in the best interest of our clients and their children.  On the other hand, we realize that a trial is not the best resolution for all clients.  Our duty as attorneys and advisors is to determine the goals of our clients and advise them how to best achieve them.  More often than not, a client’s goals can be accomplished without the necessity of a trial.  A trial can be a risky proposition because it leaves our clients’ fate in the hands of a judge. 

For most cases, settling a divorce is the best option.  It is the only way that a party can truly control the ultimate outcome of his or her divorce.  Regardless of the best strategy for your divorce, preparedness is critical to your success. The attorneys at Law Firm of Oklahoma believe in the Latin adage “Si vis pacem, para bellum”:  If you want peace, prepare for war. 

We believe that the key to attaining the best settlement for our clients is being prepared for trial.  Doing so allows us to aggressively negotiate on behalf of our clients and also puts us in the best position to present your case to a judge if and when necessary.

How long do I have to wait before my divorce is final?

Oklahoma has a waiting period that applies after a divorce case is filed.  In cases involving the custody of minor children, the waiting period is ninety days.  If there are no minor children involved, the waiting period is ten days.  However, If both parties to a divorce have agreed to the terms of their divorce, the court may waive the applicable waiting period. 

Oklahoma Divorce Lawyer

If your marriage is at an end through incompatibility, infidelity, abuse, or other irreconcilable issue, the attorneys at Law Firm of Oklahoma are equipped to battle on your behalf. We believe in providing exceptional legal representation that will provide the best possible outcome for our clients in a dissolution of marriage. To speak confidentially with a divorce lawyer, schedule a risk-free consultation by calling (405) 608-4990 today.


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