October 29, 2023
Find the advice you can trust: If your marriage is not going well and you think you may want to end things – or you think your spouse may be considering it – this is the time to go to someone you can count on and talk to them about what information and support you will need through this process. Talking to an attorney at this point can also help you determine what your needs and actions should be in the near future.
Evaluate income, assets, and debts: You need to know what you have and if your share of it will be enough to cover your needs when you are living separately from your spouse. In Oklahoma, all the assets and income that you acquired during the marriage must be divided 50/50. To protect assets and make sure you get your fair share, it is a good idea to open up a personal bank account and put a little money to the side. If your spouse does something drastic such as emptying out the joint accounts, you will be left without a penny to take care of your needs.
Seek protection against domestic violence/volatile situations: In addition to thinking about finances, your safety concerns for yourself, your children, and your pets will have to take top priority if you are leaving someone who is abusive. If there is no trusted friend or family member to turn to, it is a good idea to learn about the shelters available to you. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is (800) 799-7233.
Consider custody: Judges prefer arrangements that allow children to spend quality time with each parent. Unless your children would be in danger with their other parent, start thinking now about what custody option you will seek. Please be mindful that your definition of danger may not rise to the level as described in the Oklahoma Statutes.
The Process: In very broad terms, the divorce process involves only a few steps. First, someone who wants a divorce will file a Petition for Divorce with the Court and pay a filing fee. Then the other spouse is served the divorce papers, and they’ll set hearing dates. If there are children involved, there’s a 90-day waiting period before the final decree can be filed. Whether the divorce goes to trial or is resolved outside of court depends on many factors in a case.
Options for Assistance: In some cases, the couple is able to do a lot of the process themselves. Others won’t be able to get through it without legal assistance. We cater our approach to what a client needs, whether that’s for us to provide instructions to help them do it themselves, or if they need to hire us to coach them through it, or if they need us to be there to prepare documents and provide advice.
When someone calls, I have them explain their situation to me. Once I have the facts of the case, I can tell them what their options are. Often, I can gauge by the conversation and the situation what level of assistance the client may need and advise them in that direction.
Mediation: Mediation is a strategy that can have tremendous benefits for both parties. Sitting down together to have a conversation about divorce matters with a mediator present can reduce emotional strain and result in a more favorable settlement for all parties. We encourage clients to consider it. Sometimes the courts require it, as well.
A mediator’s job is to help spouses to resolve their disputes outside of court and come to a fair agreement. Mediators guide couples in developing realistic expectations, exploring practical solutions, and identifying issues while using conflict resolution tactics to prevent emotional matters from derailing the conversation.
Even some couples in high conflict divorce cases may be able to resolve their settlement disagreements during mediation, and this can eliminate a lot of the expense associated with a protracted court battle where the judge makes the final decision, and the couple has less control of the outcome. As an added benefit, parents are often able to use the dispute resolution methods they learn in mediation in their post-divorce relationship to work together without conflict as they co-parent their children
For more information on Preparing For An Impending Divorce In OK, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 792-2400 today.