About Justice Legal Team, PLLC
Justice Legal Team, PLLC is a law firm located in midtown Oklahoma City and assists clients with family law matters, including but not limited to, divorce, child custody, visitation, child support, and adoption; probate matters; bankruptcy; and civil law matters. We offer affordable payment plans. Schedule your consultation today or click here to learn more about our team!
What Is a Contested Divorce in Oklahoma?
Divorce is both an emotional and a legal process. It can cause otherwise rational people to say and do things that they normally wouldn't say or do. In Oklahoma, a contested divorce refers to a divorce matter in which the spouses disagree over one or more issues involved during the divorce process. The disagreements may arise from high emotions or because the spouses have different ideas on how the issues should be handled. The most commonly contested issues in an Oklahoma divorce include child custody, child support, who will take responsibility for certain debts established in the names of both spouses, and what should happen to marital property. Although Oklahoma is not a community property state, property and debts that belong to both spouses must be addressed and decided in a way that is just and equitable to both spouses before the final decree of divorce may be issued.
Contested divorces generally take longer to complete than uncontested divorces since the spouses must try to reach an agreement on the disputed issues. If they're unable to reach an agreement, a trial will be scheduled in front of the presiding judge. At the end of the trial, the judge will issue decisions on every matter on which the spouses could not agree. Justice Legal Team, PLLC, encourages spouses to attempt to come to an agreement over contested matters because it can take quite a bit of time for receive a trial date. Additional expenses may arise as both spouses prepare for trial. Additionally, there's no guarantee that the judge will rule in favor of a particular spouse. Therefore, it is often less time consuming and less expensive for the spouses to at least try to settle these matters without going to trial.
An Oklahoma contested divorce may end as uncontested if the spouses are able to reach agreements on their issues. To learn more about divorce in Oklahoma or to schedule a consultation with one of our mid-town Oklahoma City divorce lawyers, call Justice Legal Team, PLLP now at 405-493-9090.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce in Oklahoma?
An uncontested divorce in Oklahoma refers to a divorce where the spouses are more interested in completing the divorce than they are fighting over child custody, child support, visitation, or how debts or property in the names of both spouses should be split or awarded.
Generally speaking, uncontested divorces do not take as long to complete as a contested divorce. Since they usually take less time, they are generally less expensive. Uncontested divorces with minor children take more time than those without minor children as the State of Oklahoma prescribes a required 90-day waiting period. Without minor children, an uncontested divorce may be finalized in as little as 10 days.
Because divorce is both a legal process and an emotional process, you must understand that divorces that begin as uncontested may not remain as such. If the matter becomes contested, it could take longer to complete the process. To learn more about uncontested divorce in Oklahoma or to schedule your consultation, call Justice Legal Team now at 405-493-9090.
How Is Child Support Determined in Oklahoma?
The State of Oklahoma has statutes that determine how much should be paid as child support. However, child support is not a state right. It is a federal right for minor children.
With that said, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services provides access to a child support calculator. Some of the factors considered include the number of children involved in the matter, how much time each parent spends with the child(ren), the gross monthly income for each parent, whether alimony or other marital debts are assigned to the spouse ordered to pay child support, the amount of child support paid in other matters by either parent, child care expenses, and healthcare expenses.
In certain divorces, the spouses may be able to reach an agreement on how much child support should be paid. The presiding judge will review their agreement to determine whether it is in the best interest of the child(ren).
Child support, child custody, and child visitation are all separate matters. A non-custodial parent who is obligated to pay child support does not lose their right to visit with their child over failure to pay. Either party may file a motion to modify child support in the future.
What Are My Options for Child Custody in Oklahoma?
Child custody in Oklahoma first depends on whether the biological or adoptive parents of the child are married. If the parents of the child or children were never married and the parents are no longer together, the mother is presumed as the custodial parent unless and until a court order is put into a place that states otherwise. Of course, there are certain situations that may change this, such as if the father is a member of a recognized tribe.
If you are a father and you wish to pursue custody, you must first establish paternity. How this is done depends on your particular situation. It could be as simple as completing an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. This is a notarized written statement in which you swear under an oath that you are the father of the child or children in question. To qualify to use an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity, both you and the mother must agree that you are the father.
If you or the mother disagree about whether you are the father, you need to complete a DNA test to establish paternity. Only after paternity is established can you take the next step to pursue custody or visitation in Oklahoma.
If the parents were married and are separated or are in the process of getting a divorce, generally both parents have the same legal rights to their biological or adopted child or children if there is no custody order. So, either parent can have the child or children live with them, pick them up, make decisions, and so on until a court order says otherwise. Husbands are presumed to be the father of any child born during the time the spouses are married. Generally, child custody, as well as visitation and child support, is addressed during the divorce process.
As for child custody in Oklahoma, the court divides the concept in two: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the where and with whom the child or children reside. Legal custody refers to the ability to make legal, medical, and education decisions on behalf of the child or children. This could be awarded to one parent or both parents.
Sole physical custody refers to the child or children living with one parent. The non-custodial parent may or may not receive visitation of some kind. Joint physical custody refers to the children splitting their time with each parent. The time is not necessarily a 50-50 split.
Sole legal custody refers to one parent being awarded the ability to make the legal, medical, and educational decisions for the child or children. Joint legal custody refers to both parents sharing this decision-making ability.
The court may enter a temporary custody order or a permanent custody order. Additionally, custody orders may be modified in the future.
I'm Behind on Child Support. Can I Still Visit My Child in Oklahoma?
Yes. You are still entitled to visit your child if you are behind on your child support. In Oklahoma, child support and child visitation are two separate issues. Of course, we highly suggest that you get caught up on your child support payments or consider whether you should file a modification if you're having difficulty making the payment every month. However, child support cannot be used by the other parent as a reason that you cannot visit with your children. If your children are withheld from you for this reason, you may need to get help from an experienced family law attorney. To learn more about child support, get help with a child support modification, or get help enforcing your visitation rights in Oklahoma, call Justice Legal Team now at 405-493-9090 or schedule your consultation online.
Does Common Law Marriage Exist in Oklahoma?
Yes. Oklahoma is one of 11 states that acknowledges a concept known as common law marriage. With a common-law marriage, there is no need for a marriage license or clergy to officiate. There's also no need to go through a formal divorce process. The marriage is created by agreement between the parties and exists under the concept of common law. The two parties must:
- Have an actual and mutual agreement to be considered married to each other
- Consider themselves in a permanent relationship
- Consider themselves in an exclusive relationship
- Live together as spouses
- Hold themselves out to the public as married
Common-law marriage seems like a simple enough concept in Oklahoma. Maybe you're even thinking it seems like a great way to get married while avoiding the potential expense of divorce. While that may be true, common law marriage in Oklahoma still has its own host of problems. Two of the most common problems include tax-related matters and estate planning (probate, or what happens if you or your common-law spouse dies).
Another consideration is if you or your spouse decide to end the relationship. Who gets to take what? Common law marriages exist in Oklahoma, but common-law divorces do not exist. You could still decide to talk with a family law attorney to decide how you should proceed. And this may be a good idea, particularly if you have children together.
Do Grandparents Have Rights in Oklahoma?
Grandparent rights in Oklahoma are limited. In order for a grandparent to be granted visitation rights, the court must first determine that it is in the best interest of the child or children at the center of the matter. For this to happen, several things must be proven by the grandparent:
- That the parent is unfit or that the child or children would suffer actual or potential harm without visitation with the grandparent(s). This, by the way, is not easy to prove because it requires convincing evidence of harm that would occur if that visitation did not occur.
- That there is a disruption of the nuclear family because of certain events that are listed in the statute (divorce, a parent incarcerated due to a felony conviction, the termination of parental rights, etc.). The statute does not allow for grandparent rights when the nuclear family is intact and they decided that they do not want the grandparent(s) involved or because the parent to whom the grandparent is related dies and then the grandparent decides to take an interest.
Can Child Support Be Modified in Oklahoma?
Yes, once a child support order is entered it can be modified. Either party may seek to modify child support in Oklahoma. To modify child support in Oklahoma, you can try to do it yourself, which is known as pro se modification, or you can hire a lawyer. While trying to do it yourself may seem less expensive, you may find that it is more difficult than you think.
In Oklahoma, child support modification requires that a written motion be made either through the judge who ordered the child support payments or through OK DHS Child Support Services. With that being said, child support modifications require certain circumstances to exist:
- The initial child support order did not include an order for medical support
- The child support order was not calculated according to Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines
- If there will be a 10% change in the amount of child support according to the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines
- If there is a significant change in circumstances
So, what is considered a significant change in circumstances?
- The child is no longer a minor or entitled to receive child support
- Either parent has a verified medical disability
- There is a court-ordered change of custody
- There is a change in daycare or medical insurance
- There is a significant change in either parent's income
Child support modification is a relatively minor process when compared to other family law matters in Oklahoma. It does require documentation. While it is minor, it isn't short. It can take up to 180 days to complete the process.
Can Child Custody Be Modified in Oklahoma?
Yes, child custody can be modified in Oklahoma. To modify child custody in Oklahoma, you must file a Motion to Modify Custody Order. This motion may be filed because you and the other parent agree to modify the existing custody arrangement. It may also be filed if the two of you do not agree. Of course, if the two of you do not agree, it could be more difficult, depending on the circumstances, to convince the court to issue a favorable ruling on your motion.
Generally, when the parties do not agree on modifying custody, the court will only modify a custody order if there is a permanent and material change in the circumstances that affect the best interest of the child. For example, substance abuse could be considered a material change that causes the court to grant a motion to modify custody and even limit or deny visitation of a parent, depending on the severity of the issue. Of course, that's an extremely serious example, but it serves our purpose.
Another common reason to seek a custody modification in Oklahoma involves one parent moving a significant distance from the other parent, such as out of state or outside of whatever distance is listed in the current custody order. Although many parents may seek to simply move to enforce the current custody agreement, there are some who decide to attempt to modify custody instead.
What Should I Do If My Ex Is Keeping My Kids from Me?
If your ex is keeping your children from you, the first thing you should do is consult your child custody and visitation agreement. In Oklahoma, child support and child visitation are two separate issues. Your ex cannot withhold your visitation if you fall behind on your child support payments.
Children really do benefit when they are allowed to have relationships with both of their parents even if both of their parents are no longer together. If you and your ex were married and you share biological and adopted children, you have just as much right to the children as your former spouse until there is a custody agreement in place. Of course, you should still conduct yourself with dignity and always consider the well-being of your children. If you do not have a child custody and visitation agreement in place, Justice Legal Team can help you. We offer affordable family law services in Oklahoma. A well-written child custody and visitation agreement can make it easier on everyone to help foster on-going positive relationships between the parents and their children.
If you weren't married to the other parent and share at least one biological child with them, Oklahoma law is a bit different because the paternity of the father must be established. Maternity is automatically established at birth. Paternity may be established in several ways, but it must be done before the father of a child may petition the court for custody or visitation. Paternity must also be established before the mother may receive child support.
Establishing paternity as an unmarried father may be as simple as completing an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. This is a notarized written statement in which you swear under an oath that you are the father of the child or children in question. To qualify to use an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity, both you and the mother must agree that you are the father. If you or the mother disagree about whether you are the father, you need to complete a DNA test to establish paternity.
If you do have a child custody and visitation agreement and your ex refuses to allow you to see the children during your scheduled time, you do have the option of calling the police. The police will respond and tell you that it is a civil matter and that there is little they can do. While they are correct, you can request that they complete an informational report. An informational report is a police report that documents that you called them to come out and document the matter: that your court-ordered time wasn't granted by your ex. You'll be given the report number. In a few days, go and retrieve a copy of the report for your records. Keeping good documentation of these occurrences can make it easier in the future if you need to go back to court to request help from the judge to enforce your rights.
What Are My Rights as an Unwed Parent in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, unwed mothers have custody of their children unless a court order states otherwise. Unwed fathers must have paternity established before they may pursue custody or pay child support. Paternity must also be established before child support payments may be ordered.
At Justice Legal Team, we believe that it is in the best interest of children to have healthy, loving relationships with both of their parents when it is possible, regardless of whether their parents were ever married. Unfortunately, because we work in family law, we've watched children used as weapons. It inevitably leads to nothing more than heartache…for the children. We offer affordable family law help, as well as offering a payment plan, to help Oklahoma parents just like you fight to see their children. To learn more about your rights as a parent or to schedule your consultation, call Justice Legal Team now at 405-493-9090.
How is Paternity Established in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, paternity must be established if the parents of a minor child are unmarried and:
- The mother of the child pursues the father for child support;
- The mother of the child receives TANF, SNAP, or other state assistance; or
- The mother or the father of the child wants to go to court to get an actual custody order and/or visitation agreement.
When a baby is born to a married couple, the husband is automatically presumed to be the father of the baby under Oklahoma law. When paternity must be proven, there are several methods that can be used. First, either or both parents may decide whether to establish paternity through the court or through Oklahoma DHS. If the father is sure that the child is his, he can decide to complete an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. Understand, though, that once the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is signed, that's it. A DNA swab may also be performed to prove paternity.
What Happens in Oklahoma If Child Support Isn't Paid?
If you do not pay your court-ordered child support in Oklahoma, there are several consequences that you could face:
- Your employer may receive an order from the court to start withholding the child support from your check. On the plus side, this can help ensure that your child support payments are made. Keep in mind that if you do have significant life changes, you may be eligible to receive a child support modification.
- If you usually receive a federal or state tax refund, it could be intercepted and used to pay off some of your back child support debt.
- If you own property of any kind, a lien could be placed against your property. You won't be able to sell your property unless you first pay off the lien.
- If you owe a significant amount of back child support, you could be placed on Oklahoma Child Support Enforcement's Most Wanted List.
- Your driver's license, professional license, recreational license, or business permit could be suspended until you catch up your payments. You will also need to pay extra fees to get your license or permit reinstated.
- Your checking account (and everything in it) could be seized by Child Support Enforcement which would make it exceedingly difficult to pay your rent and buy groceries.
- Your passport could be canceled.
- You could get arrested and ordered to serve jail time.
Do not quit your job to avoid paying child support. Child support isn't a punishment. If you're struggling to keep up with your child support payments because you lost your job, was diagnosed with a serious medical issue, or had another significant change in your life, you may be eligible for child support modification. However, that will not change the fact that you will still be responsible for paying off back child support.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, the amount of time it takes to get a divorce depends on several factors. One of the factors is whether the couple has minor children. Another factor is whether the couple is fighting over the assets. Although Oklahoma isn't a community property state, the marital home and other assets must still be addressed. If you and your soon-to-be former spouse fight over them, it takes longer for the divorce to be finalized. So, the following information is meant as a guideline only.
If there are no minor children between the parties, it can take as little as ten days for the divorce to be finalized. If there are minor children involved, the soonest a divorce may be finalized is 90 days. Again, though, it may also take longer than that depending on whether the parties are able to work together to settle everything that must be settled before a final decree of divorce may be signed by the judge.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in Oklahoma?
It's important to keep in mind that the cost of divorce in Oklahoma includes court fees as well as the fees of hiring a lawyer, should you choose to do so. The court fee for filing for divorce depends on the county as well as whether the couple divorcing has minor children.
First, you need to determine where the divorce would be filed. This is based on where you live. You must be a resident of a county for six months before you may file for divorce in that county. So, for example, if you moved out of the marital home in Norman, Oklahoma and into an apartment on the northwest side of Oklahoma City, you've definitely changed counties. If your spouse still lives in the marital home or, at least still lives in Norman, your spouse could still start the divorce proceedings in Cleveland County since that is the county where they reside.
Whether you believe that you need a divorce lawyer is another matter. A divorce lawyer may seem like an added expense, but the reality is that having a good lawyer on your side can help make sure that you are treated fairly. Whether there are children involved or not, divorce can make otherwise good and reasonable people say and do ugly and unreasonable things because their emotions get the best of them. A divorce lawyer can help mediate the situation as well as help you navigate the process while protecting your legal rights. Justice Legal Team provides payment plans for divorce clients because we understand that going through a divorce is just as draining financially as it is emotionally.
The fact is that it's not possible to give an actual dollar amount as to what a divorce costs in Oklahoma. It depends on how long the process takes and the complexities involved in each situation.
Am I Entitled to Receive Alimony in Oklahoma?
Whether you could be awarded alimony depends on several factors. Before we look at those factors, let's take a quick look at the types of alimony that may be awarded in Oklahoma as well as what they mean.
- Short-term alimony. Short-term alimony is meant to be rehabilitative. It may be awarded to the receiving spouse so that they have a chance to become self-supporting during the separation.
- Temporary alimony. Temporary alimony is exactly what it sounds like: a temporary award of spousal support. This is also known as spousal maintenance. It is paid only until the court issues a final divorce decree.
- Permanent alimony. This would be alimony paid after the divorce decree is issued. It could be a lump sum or it may be installments made over time. It could be monetary payments or it could be paid as real estate or other types of property.
Not every divorce filed in Oklahoma is eligible for alimony. Short-term or rehabilitative alimony is more common in long-term marriages when one spouse (gender doesn't matter) left the workforce to stay home either to take care of the family or as a way to support their spouse's career aspirations. Usually, short-term alimony ends if the recipient dies or within 90 days of their remarriage (with some limitations). It may also end once the recipient becomes self-supporting. The recipient is also allowed to ask the court to extend the alimony.
Permanent alimony may be awarded in long-term marriages if a spouse isn't able to become self-supporting because of their age, a physical or mental issue, or they were out of their job market for such an extended amount of time that they are essentially unmarketable. Most judges do not award indefinite permanent support. However, if an end date is not given, the alimony continues until a modification or termination is requested.
Gender is not a factor when it comes to requesting alimony in an Oklahoma divorce. Alimony is not automatically granted. The spouse requesting it must be able to show that they need the support and that the spouse can afford to make those payments while remaining financially independent. Generally, judges consider:
- How long the couple was married
- The earning capacity of each spouse
- The income and liabilities for each spouse
- Whether paying alimony would allow the paying spouse to maintain financial independence
- The age and health of each spouse
- The marital standard of living
- Whether one spouse contributed to the other's ability to earn money during the marriage
- Both the monetary and non-monetary contributions made to the marriage
If you and your spouse think that alimony may be awarded, you have the option to negotiate with them. The judge will consider your agreement. To learn more about alimony in Oklahoma, call Justice Legal Team now at 405-493-9090 or click here to schedule your consultation.
How Do I File for Divorce in Oklahoma?
To file for divorce in Oklahoma, you must be a resident for at least six months. Your divorce case will be filed in the county where your spouse lives or in the county where you've lived for at least the last 30 days.
You must have a reason to get a divorce. This reason can be as simple as what is known as incompatibility. Other reasons include adultery or abandonment. If your spouse abandons you, they must be absent for at least one year before you can use this as grounds for divorce.
You or your spouse will begin the divorce process by filing a divorce petition with the court and paying the filing fee. While you or your spouse may do this on your own (which is known as being "pro se" or representing yourself), it can be very helpful to be represented by an experienced Oklahoma divorce lawyer. The fee for filing the divorce petition depends on the county as well as whether you and your spouse share minor children.
If you and your spouse do share minor children, the divorce process will take a minimum of 90 days to complete. If there are no shared minor children, the least amount of time the divorce will take is 30 days. However, the amount of time an Oklahoma divorce takes depends on many factors including having your spouse served, attending a parenting plan conference (if you share minor children), and working out other details related to the divorce. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the details, a divorce trial can be scheduled with the presiding judge. During the trial, the judge will take testimony, review evidence, and make decisions regarding all contested matters. The more time a divorce takes, the more expensive and stressful it generally is for both parties.
An experienced Oklahoma divorce lawyer can help you protect your legal rights during the divorce process. To learn more about filing for divorce in Oklahoma, call Justice Legal Team now at 405-493-9090 or click here to schedule your consultation.
What Is Probate in Oklahoma Like?
In Oklahoma, the probate process involves officially naming a personal representative of the decedent's estate, regardless of whether there is a will, paying existing creditors out of the decedent's assets, and transferring whatever is left of the decedent's estate to the heirs either by following the will or, if there is no will, according to Oklahoma's intestate law.
To start the probate process, an interested party who may or may not be the personal representative files the will if it can be located. This is done in the county where the decedent lived at the time of death. The probate court schedules a hearing. Heirs and other interested parties are notified of the hearing so that they may attend. During this hearing, a personal representative is named. If there is a will, the person named in the will may be confirmed if they would like to fulfill that position. If there is no will, the probate court will follow the state's intestate laws for choosing a personal representative.
The personal representative must finalize the estate by completing certain duties. This includes, but may not be limited to:
- Reviewing and approving claims made by creditors against the estate and objecting to any that they believe are not valid
- Creating an inventory for all of the property that is part of the estate
- Identifying all heirs of the estate
- Distributing property of the estate according to the will, if there is a will, or in accordance with an order issued by the probate court, including, but not limited to, singing any titles or deeds to transfer property to rightful heirs
- Reviewing and paying all final bills
- Filing all final tax returns
Depending on the size of the estate as well as whether there was an existing estate plan, completing the probate process in Oklahoma can be stressful as well as time-consuming. To learn more about the probate process in Oklahoma or to find out more about getting assistance with the probate process, call Justice Legal Team now at 405-493-9090 or click here to schedule your consultation.
How Can I File for Bankruptcy in Oklahoma?
Filing bankruptcy in Oklahoma begins a federal legal process that can help give you a fresh start by wiping out your debt. Bankruptcy, regardless of whether you want to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13, is filed in federal court. The federal court that will oversee your bankruptcy depends on which county you live in. Bankruptcy could help stop foreclosure on your home, prevent repossession of your vehicle, stop your paycheck from being garnishment, stop debt collectors from harassing you, and may even help you recognize if certain creditors or debt buyers are committing fraud by reporting the same debt more than once or by trying to collect more than they owe.
To file for bankruptcy in Oklahoma, you must first qualify to do so. You can only file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you haven't received a discharge under a Chapter 7 within the last eight years or filed a Chapter 13 within the last six years. You can only file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you haven't received a discharge under a Chapter 7 discharge within the last four years or filed another Chapter 13 in the last two years. If you did not receive a discharge during a previous bankruptcy filing, you may still be eligible to file for bankruptcy to receive a discharge.
There are, of course, other stipulations associated with filing for bankruptcy. Some debts will not be discharged, such as taxes owed, most student loans (although there are a few exceptions), or back child support. If you file for Chapter 7, it may be converted to Chapter 13 if your income exceeds the statutory income limit. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a repayment plan bankruptcy that restructures your monthly payment obligations into a manageable amount that you pay to the bankruptcy court to distribute to your creditors. At the end of five years when your repayment plan ends, any outstanding debts that are not "secured" (credit cards, signature loans, other unsecured debts) will be extinguished.