The Section of law referred to as "Family Law" generally includes Divorce, Separate Maintenance, Custody, Child Support, Paternity, Visitation, Support Alimony and Division of Marital Property. The Court that decides "Family Law" is a Court of Equity.
This summary is intended to be an overview of some of the issues involved with family law. It is intended only for educational purposes. It is not presented to address all issues in family law nor to offer a legal opinion on how a Court of Equity may or may not rule.
In Oklahoma, a divorce is called a Dissolution of Marriage. A dissolution of marriage involving minor children will include the following: Custody, Visitation and Child Support. The Court will decide, if the parties cannot agree, what custody arrangement which will best serve the best interests and well being of the minor child and/or children. Prior to a divorce decree being entered and during the pendency of the divorce proceedings, the Court more than likely will enter temporary orders regarding: custody, visitation, child support, property and temporary support alimony. If there is any possibility of reconciliation, I recommend to my clients that instead of filing for a Dissolution of Marriage they may wish to consider filing for Separate Maintenance. Separate Maintenance may also include temporary orders for custody, visitation, child support and support alimony.
The amount of Child Support is usually determined by complying with the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines. However, there are circumstances where the parties exceed the joint income of the Guidelines. In those situations, the Court will decide if the parties cannot agree.
A dissolution of marriage may also include an order for property division and support alimony. Property division in Oklahoma is determined in part by establishing the nature [character] of the property. Under a normal situation, property will be divided equitably between the parties. What is the property subject to distribution? It is that property which is determined to be "marital" property. The following is a partial list of property which may be subject to division: Pension funds, Retirement funds, Military Benefits, Gifts, Inheritance Property received during the marriage, Co-mingled property, Real Property, Personal Property and Separate property that have been enhanced by either party during the marriage.
The Court of Equity will decide the "character" of the property by several factors including when the property was purchased and how it was treated during the marriage. The property that becomes subject to division may require an evaluation to determine the value of the property. Often, expert testimony is necessary to establish the value of the property.
After a Divorce Decree has been entered, there can be some modifications to the Decree. One of the areas that modifications are allowed by statute is Child Support. Child Support can be modified upon a showing of a change in circumstances with the parties. This modification must be Court approved and ordered. Child Support can be modified up or down. Custody orders and visitation schedules may also be modified by order of the Court.
Oklahoma courts recognize support alimony. Support alimony will be determined on a case by case basis. It will require evidence to establish the "need" one party and the ability to "pay" by the other party.
This is one area of the law that when I have been chosen to be the lawyer, I require my client's attention to be involved. A divorce is so very personal. A lawyer and/or lawyers should not determine alone how you or your children will live the rest of your life, you must and should be involved and participate in every decision. If you are forced into a situation where a dissolution of your marriage is your only alternative, please find a lawyer who will keep you informed and involved. It will be painful but years from now, you will be glad that you were involved and made informed decisions.
|2005 Copyright, Carla L. Robey-Harcourt
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