This article concerns fifteen basic things that you should know about the divorce process in Oklahoma. Although the information here is not comprehensive and, certainly cannot replace competent legal advice, it will serve as a primer about issues which you should consider in your divorce process.
1. Where do I file for divorce?
Oklahoma law requires that you must be a resident of the state of Oklahoma for more than six (6) months and a resident of your county for more than thirty (30) days before you may file for a divorce. If you have not lived in Oklahoma for six (6) months then you may file for an action called separate maintenance or legal separation. This will allow you to receive much of the relief that a divorce action provides: property division, custody, child support, and alimony. Then after six (6) months your separate maintenance action may be amended to a divorce.
2. How much does it cost to file for divorce?
current filing fees are now different for every county, so you need to
contact the court clerk to ask about the fee. The filing fee does not
include the attorney’s fee in a represented case nor does it include the
costs for a process server, any mailing costs, transcript fees, other
court fees. The good news is that in an agreed or uncontested divorcethere are no other costs besides the filing fee and the attorney's fee
if you are represented.The cost of each contested divorce process varies
greatly depending on the attitudes, aims, and contentions of each
party. Some divorces can be resolved in a few hours, while others can
take more than 200 hours of time. Costs will vary widely depending on
these factors and must be assessed on an individual basis. At
MicroDivorce.com we are able to set a flat one-time feefor all agreed and uncontested divorces based on your answering a few
questions about yourself and your marriage. You can learn more by
visiting our Fee Estimator
3. Should I consider a Do-It-Yourself Divorce?
There are companies who offer divorce papers and do-it-yourself kits from $150.00 to $250.00 dollars. Some even provide blank forms for as little as $ 80.00. In the end if you have enough patience and time you most likely will be able to figure out how the divorce process works on your own. The potential savings over hiring a divorce lawyer serves as a great temptation to use such divorce paper services while hoping for the best. You should know that courts cannot modify a final judgment except under special circumstances. In a divorce in Oklahoma, only a few factors can be modified: child support, custody, alimony; then only under specific circumstances. Any mistakes you make might be beyond correction. You should consider getting your divorce right the first time, especially if you have children or any assets in your marriage.
4. How long does it take to get a divorce?
A judge may grant a divorce as soon as ten (10) days after the petition is filed if the parties do not have any children, or as soon as ninety (90) days after the petition is filed if they do. There are some exceptions and under certain circumstances a judge may waive the waiting period.
5. If I have children do I have to take parenting classes?
Yes. Most district courts have written rules which require divorcing parents to attend parenting classes. This class will be at your expense and must be taken and proof of completion provided to the court before your divorce will be granted.
6. What is a Temporary Order?
Title 43 O.S. Section 110 authorizes a judge to enter orders at the beginning of a contested divorce proceeding which decides certain pressing issues until the judge can hear the whole case at trial. These orders usually concern the possession and use of property, the custody of the children, visitation, child support, and spousal support. Each order is temporary and may be changed at any time during the case. A hearing to determine the need for such orders is held soon after the divorce petition is filed if the parties cannot agree and expect to go to trial.
7. Will I have to pay alimony?
The courts have struggled for years to determine when a spouse is entitled to alimony and just how much a financially dependent spouse is entitled to. The general theory is that an award of support alimony should be awarded on the basis of (1) a spouse’s need for support as it relates to the marriage; and (2) the other spouse’s ability to pay such support. The party requesting alimony must demonstrate a need for the support.
In determining the amount, the judge may look at: the parties’ lifestyle, each spouse’s earning capacity, each spouse’s physical condition, the duration of the marriage, and the spouse’s prospects for employment.
The determination of alimony is largely based on what the judge thinks is fair to each party. This is hardly a strict standard and can vary widely from case to case depending on the facts and the judge.
8. Will I have to pay child support?
If you are the non-custodial parent, then you will have to pay child support. Under the law, we calculate child support by combining the gross incomes of each parent. We then compare the parties’ combined gross income to a statutory chart ( 43 O.S. § 119 ) which indicates the total amount of child support. The non-custodial parent then pays his or her percentage of that total as determined from his or percentage of the parties’s combined gross incomes. Of course, there are over ten separate statutes dedicated totally to the calculation of child support and many other laws that also provide special rules that may apply. Child support is mandatory, and includes division of certain child-rearing costs such as medical insurance premiums, child care, and some other costs under special conditions. Parties may not agree to a different calculation without the assistance of counsel and the judge’s approval.
9. How long do I have to pay child support?
Until the child reaches eighteen (18) years old or until the child graduates from high school through the age of (20) twenty years old. However, the parties may agree to extend child support well beyond these limits.
10. Who gets the kids?
There is no magic formula. Generally, the judge considers what is in the best interests of the child. A variety of factors may influence this decision. Each case is different and will present unique challenges. Once a child reaches twelve (12) years old, then the child may have a preference in regards to which parent receives custody. However, the judge may still make her own decision about custody.
11. How is our property divided?
The judge is required award to each person his or her separate property (property received before marriage, by gift or by inheritance). The judge then divides all marital property (property acquired during marriage) justly and equitably. This does not mean that the judge will split everything 50/50. The judge has the discretion to divide the property as he or she deems just, depending on the circumstances. This could be 40/60, 45/55, 55/45, and so on.
Debt is included in the property division. The debt usually follows the collateral to which it is attached or can be separated and awarded to one party in exchange for a greater interest in one or more other assets.
12. When may I remarry?
You may not remarry until six (6) months after the divorce is granted. Remarriage earlier than six (6) months constitutes the crime of adultery under Oklahoma law.
13. Can I modify the Divorce Decree?
No, expect under special circumstances. A person can modify child support, child custody, visitation, or alimony but only if he or she can show that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances. It is still important to get it right the first time. A modification requires a new filing in your divorce case.
14. What do I do if my ex-spouse disobeys the court’s order?
A party may apply to the court for a contempt citation. A contempt citation is used to compel your ex-spouse to do what he or she had been ordered to do. If you ex-spouse has failed to obey the judge’s order, he or she can be fined or even placed in jail.
15. If I go to trial, can I get my ex-spouse to pay my costs and attorney’s fees?
Generally, the judge may order your ex-spouse to pay your attorney’s fees if you cannot afford to pay them yourself. The judge may consider your need and your spouse’s ability to pay. However, attorney’s fees should not be expected unless your ex-spouse has unnecessarily complicated and delayed the proceedings, thereby, unjustifiably increasing your costs. In uncontested divorce proceedings it is not common practice for one party to pay the other party's attorney fees unless they agree to do so.
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