Divorce Frequently Asked Questions regarding Oklahoma Family Law

Can I get support alimony?
It depends on the circumstances of your marriage. In Oklahoma, support alimony is a “need-based” concept, with a two-part test.  The trial judge looks at the requesting spouse’s income resources, e.g., employment, investments and child support, and whether the requesting spouse’s income is enough to cover her/his recurring expenses. The judge then looks at the payor spouse’s ability to pay the requested support, based on his/her income and recurring expenses. Support alimony today is a “transitional” concept; the goal is to provide financial support to allow the spouse sufficient time to become economically independent.
How is child support computed?
Child support in Oklahoma is calculated according to a specific statute that includes a chart and formulas used for specific circumstances. The statute is based upon the “shared income” model. The parents’ gross monthly incomes are combined. The child support is derived from locating the combined income on the chart, with amounts for one to six children.

Each parent’s portion of the health insurance premium allocated to the children is factored into the computation. Each parent’s percentage for base child support is used for employment-related child care and medical expenses that are not covered by the insurance, such as co-pays. 

What are “medical” expenses?
Medical expenses are defined by statute as medical, dental, orthodontic (braces), ophthalmic (vision), physical therapy, psychological and counseling expenses.
Is Oklahoma a “community property” state?
No. It is an “equitable division” state, which allows the trial judge the discretion to divide the property between the spouses, taking into account if one spouse wasted marital property, or removed monies just prior to the divorce being filed, etc. Generally, it results in a fairly equal division of the net estate, which is determined by subtracting the debts from the assets. The marital estate does not include property that a spouse has brought into the marriage, inherited or received as a gift. The caveat to these categories is that if a spouse places separate property into a joint account, or places the other spouse’s name on the property, the nature of the property can change from separate to marital.
How long do I have to wait before I’m divorced?
Generally, if you and your spouse do not have a child from the marriage, and depending on the county where you file, as little as ten days after the petition is filed. If you and your spouse have a child from the marriage, then generally you must wait 90 days. The judge can allow some exceptions, which are specified in the statute. One exception is if you and your spouse had marital or family counseling and reconciliation is unlikely. If you entered into a “covenant” marriage, then you must wait even longer.
Can I get attorney fees if I have to fight my spouse in court?
Attorney fees are awarded at the discretion of the judge. The award is based upon multiple factors, such as the reason for the case and its outcome, if the parties placed the children’s interests above their own, if one party increased the cost of litigation due to unreasonable conduct, and the financial resources of each party. Each judge takes a different approach to attorney fees, and there is no “rule of thumb”.
Do I get a better property award or more support alimony if my spouse had an affair during the marriage?
No. Oklahoma is a “no-fault” state. There are some other types of divorce grounds, but judges rarely use them. An affair becomes relevant only if your spouse dissipated marital assets on the paramour, or if the spouse has exposed the children to the paramour.
Who will get custody of the children if we do not agree on it?
There is no statutory presumption for or against joint custody. The judge has the discretion to order equal access for both parents during the temporary order portion of the case. The statute does not apply to final decrees and permanent custody awards. If the parties cannot agree on joint custody or a parenting schedule, the judge looks at the history of the marriage: who historically has been the primary caregiver, who takes the children to school, the dentist, their practices and events. If you shared parenting responsibilities during the marriage, then it is likely that the trial judge will try to maintain that schedule. Some judges award sole custody to mothers in paternity cases, and joint custody to divorcing parents. Each judge has his or her own standards and preferences for awarding custody, so it is important to know them before going to trial, or while negotiating a settlement.
After the petition is filed, how long do I have to wait until my spouse moves out of the house?
Depending on the county, you must wait from two to four weeks. The Automatic Temporary Injunction, also known as an ATI, creates certain orders regarding the case as soon as it is filed. The orders protect insurance coverage, retirement accounts, and create stability relating to your children by requiring both parents to keep them in the same school and/or the same child care provider. Our Firm files an Application for Temporary Order that is filed with the Petition. The Application is the document that asks the judge to hear the final trial, or until you and your spouse settle the case. The Temporary Order sets out which spouse will stay in the house, who has temporary custody of the children, sets the schedule for the children to see each parent, orders temporary child support, temporary support alimony, and orders which spouse pays which bills and other expenses.
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