During this very difficult process, you need someone who not only knows the law, but who is willing to get to know you, understand your needs, explain what will happen, and keep you informed every step of the way. Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation with one of our skilled and understanding divorce lawyers.
METHODS OF ENDING THE MARRIAGE
A divorce, or a dissolution of marriage as it is referred to in Oklahoma, begins when a party files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Court. If minor children are involved, the parents may be required to attend a parenting plan conference, and a class for divorcing parents. Divorcing parties must consider and address multiple issues, such as:
- Child Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
- Property Division
When you come into our office for your consultation, we will discuss your needs and concerns. After a careful assessment of your situation, we will work together to determine a course of action that will best benefit you and your children. We know the law, and we can help you through this difficult process.
If you are unsure about getting divorced or divorce is prohibited for religious or other reasons, but you need time away from your spouse and want to protect yourself legally, a legal separation may be the appropriate decision for you. A legal separation is much like a divorce, except you and your spouse remain legally married. The Court may divide property between you and your spouse, and you will live apart. In a legal separation, all property division and alimony awards may be considered temporary, and can be modified in the event of an actual divorce.
Annulment is a legal process by which the Court declares a marriage to be a “nullity.” In other words, the Court sets aside the marriage as though it never existed. Annulment is the rarest method of ending a marriage likely because the standards can be difficult to meet.
In Oklahoma, the burden of proof to be granted an annulment is high. For example, you may need to prove that you or your partner were minors at the time of the marriage, that you lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage, that you only married because of a fraud that was perpetrated on you, that you are in an incestuous relationship, or, in some cases, that one of you is impotent. Unlike in ages past, you will not be granted an annulment simply because you have yet to consummate the marriage, or because you have only been married a short time.
In most relationships, individuals support each other in a variety of ways. For married individuals, this often includes financial support. However, if one spouse becomes more financially dependent on the other for reasons directly related to the marriage, he or she may be entitled to support alimony in the event of a divorce.
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is determined on a case-by-case basis. While the Court does not follow specific guidelines when deciding alimony cases, it must consider the petitioning party’s financial need and the responding party’s ability to pay. Several other factors the Court may consider include:
- The standard of living during the marriage;
- Job history or employability of both parties;
- Length of the marriage; and
- The health and age of the parties.
Alimony is not designed to be permanent. It is meant to be temporary, to support a party through the transitional period from divorce to self-sufficiency. If the Court determines you are eligible, it will decide how much you will receive and for how long. It is important to retain the counsel of a skilled alimony lawyer to effectively represent your rights and interests.
Contrary to popular belief, property is not always divided equally. Oklahoma is an equitable division state which means that the Court considers a variety of factors when it divides property, including:
- Any separate property either party may possess;
- Property inherited by either or both parties;
- Each party’s contribution to the marital estate;
- Age of both parties;
- Health needs of both parties;
- Each party’s income and/or earning capacity; and
- Any factor that supports awarding more property to one party versus the other.
It is important to do an accounting of all marital property when dividing the marital estate during a divorce. Often, the majority of a couple’s assets are not liquid, but, rather, consist of retirement accounts, military benefits, pensions or interest in a business or a professional practice. These non-liquid assets give rise to delicate issues of valuation and division, which are best discussed with experienced and skilled attorneys. CORNELL LAW FIRM can help.