Deciding to end your marriage is a big step, and you could struggle with uncertainty. You might be wondering how to preserve your relationship with your children and how you will make it work financially.
An experienced Oklahoma City divorce lawyer at The Smith Firm understands your concerns and will work to ensure you get the results you want from your divorce. Every divorce involves some compromise, but our dedicated family attorneys will listen to your goals and work hard to meet them.
Oklahoma does not require a couple to live separately before divorcing. The only requirement is that one spouse lives in the state for at least six months before either spouse files for divorce.
The spouse who files for divorce must state a reason, also called the grounds. There are 12 legal grounds courts in this state recognize. One of them—incompatibility—is a no-fault ground. The other 11 require the petitioner to offer proof of their spouse’s wrongdoing.
Filing on the grounds of incompatibility is usually recommended, as a couple does not have to produce and make public evidence of very private matters. However, proving abandonment, cruelty, substance abuse, adultery, or another fault-based ground could influence a judge’s decisions on spousal maintenance and child custody. A seasoned Oklahoma City divorce attorney could discuss whether proving fault in a divorce is worthwhile in a specific case.
Judges must base child custody decisions on the best interests of the child. They consider multiple factors when determining the child’s best interest, including:
In some cases, a court might appoint a guardian ad litem or a parenting evaluator to get to know the family and make recommendations regarding custody and visitation. A parent could request a guardian ad litem or custody evaluation, or the judge might independently decide a guardian ad litem or custody evaluation would be helpful.
Courts favor allowing both parents ample access to the children. Parents who communicate well and whose schedules permit joint custody could seek an arrangement where the children spend at least one-third of their time with each parent. If joint custody does not work logistically, a skilled divorce lawyer in Oklahoma City could help a parent create a parenting plan that allows for significant time with their children.
When a couple divorces, Oklahoma Statute §43-121B requires them to separate their marital property in a manner that is fair and just, though, not necessarily equal. Each spouse retains the property and debt that was theirs before marriage. Unless they have a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise, everything else either spouse acquired during the marriage is marital property that they must divide.
Inheritances are usually separate property, even if a spouse received the inheritance during the marriage. However, a court will look at whether the spouse who inherited treated the inheritance as their own. If the spouse used part of the inheritance to upgrade the family home, for example, a court might decide the spouse intended for the money to be marital property.
A judge considers various factors when deciding how to divide marital property and has considerable discretion. If the spouses could reach a property division agreement while the divorce is pending, a judge will typically accept it. A proactive divorce attorney in Oklahoma City could negotiate a fair property division settlement with the other spouse’s legal representative.
Divorcing is a stressful process with the potential to impact your finances and your relationship with your children forever. You owe it to yourself to work with an Oklahoma City divorce lawyer with the knowledge and experience to help you reach your goals.
Put yourself in the hands of an attorney who focuses on helping people get through a divorce in the best position to start their new lives. Schedule a consultation with The Smith Firm today.