November 09, 2023
Determining Alimony: Oklahoma does recognize alimony awards, and there is a three-pronged test for determining whether a judge will order it and how much:
When a client wants to seek support, I ask them to bring me a budget and show me their need. If they were married only a few months, and they’re asking for $2,000 a month for the next 10 years, the judge probably won’t accept that. Likewise, if the other spouse doesn’t make enough to take care of themself, a judge probably won’t make them pay support for someone else. But where there’s a genuine need, whether the asking spouse is male or female, the judge will consider ordering the breadwinning spouse to pay support.
Time Limits: People often come to me wanting to request lifelong support after marriage, but in Oklahoma, that isn’t typical. The courts usually set a time limit of six months to a year of support. The goal in most cases is to give the spouse time to get on their feet and become self-supporting.
Granted, it isn’t always an option for a spouse to become self-supporting. I did have a divorce where the wife was in feeble health and wasn’t expected to live much longer. Based on the specific circumstances, I was able to negotiate a very respectable amount of support for her.
Fair and Equitable Division: Oklahoma is a 50/50 state when it comes to marital assets. Rather than being fault-based, most divorces are filed based on irreconcilable differences. What caused the end of the marriage is not usually a factor in property division. So, the judge looks at all the couple’s assets that they acquired during the marriage and divides them up equitably, or fairly. The debts, such as credit card debt, student loans, etc., are also divided in this way.
Assets: Assets include real property, such as the marital home, vacation properties, and rental properties, and it also includes personal property, such as the couple’s vehicles, jewelry, collections, furniture, and other things inside the home. Things of significant value may need an appraisal to provide an accurate dollar amount that can be used to balance the division of property fairly. Bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, and other accounts of that nature will also need to be included in the division of property.
Substitutions: If one spouse is requesting alimony, they may request property in place of support. For example, if there is an agreement for two years of support in a certain amount, they can agree to substitute marital property valued at that amount instead.
If both parties have a 401(k), they may agree not to touch those accounts, as dividing them can cause them to lose some of their future value.
With the marital home, the options may be to sell it and divide the proceeds. Alternately, if one spouse wants to keep the house, then it will have to be assessed to determine the equity. So, for example, if there is $50,000 worth of equity in the home, the spouse who is giving up the home would be entitled to $25,000 of the equity. Another option is that the other spouse may offer other assets that are valued at $25,000 if they can agree to that.
Even though the court describes it as a 50/50 division, there are many ways that things can be divided that could be considered fair and equitable.
For more information on Alimony Awards in an Oklahoma Divorce Case, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 792-2400 today.