No one enters into a marriage thinking that it will end in divorce, but unfortunately, it does happen. When couples with children decide to end their marriage, they need to know the process and what to expect. In Oklahoma, the process for a divorce with children can be complex, so it is essential to seek legal counsel to help you navigate the process. This blog post will provide an overview of the steps involved in a divorce with children in Oklahoma. Keep in mind that every situation is unique, so please consult an attorney if you have specific questions about your case.
Filing for Divorce
The divorce process in Oklahoma can be complicated, but the first step is simply determining whether you meet the state's residency requirements. To file for divorce, at least one spouse must have lived in the county where you want to file for at least 30 days and in the state for at least six months. If you don't meet these requirements, you'll need to wait until you do before you can begin the divorce process.
If you and your spouse agree to the terms of your divorce, the process can be relatively quick and straightforward. In an uncontested divorce, the waiting period is just 10 days if you do not have minor children, or 90 days if you do.
Parenting Plan Conference
In Tulsa County, your first court appearance is the Parenting Plan Conference. At this conference, you will be in the courtroom with many other litigants. The Judge will speak to everyone as a group and the attorneys will conference with one another to attempt to reach some type of interim or temporary agreement for their clients. If the parties can reach an agreement, the Judge will sign a Temporary Order at that time. If there is no agreement, the parties will receive a new date to come back to court for the next step of the process, a Temporary Order Hearing. The Parenting Plan Conference is specific to Tulsa County and is not required in surrounding counties.
Divorcing couples in Oklahoma often face a number of pressing issues that need to be addressed in a timely manner. For example, one spouse may need exclusive use of the family home or to protect the safety of the children, or one spouse may need access to financial records in order to ensure a fair division of assets. In these cases, if settlement fails at the Parenting Plan Conference, the parties can request a new court date, where they can present their evidence to the Judge, allowing the Court to issue a temporary decision regarding these important issues. Temporary orders are typically issued early in the divorce proceeding, and they are designed to remain in effect until the issues can be resolved via trial or settlement.
A temporary order in an Oklahoma divorce can cover the following issues:
• Who stays in the family home and who moves out
• Who drives what car
• Issues surrounding the children, such as custody, visitation, and child support
• Other issues regarding assets and debts
After the Temporary Order is entered, the next step is the discovery process. Sometimes spouses can agree on how assets are to be divided. But most often, there is some disagreement among the parties regarding the handling of assets and liabilities, or there is a question is to the value of certain assets. If further information is required, discovery requests are issued. These are written requests to the opposing party, requesting specific information that your attorney may need to move your case forward.
After the discovery process is complete, if the parties have not reached an agreement, the parties will need to attend mediation. In mediation, the two sides choose the mediator they would like to use. A divorce mediator knows the law and issues involved in divorce quite well. A mediator does not decide who is right and wrong in a case, but can try to help parties compromise to reach an agreement to settle their case. In that way, mediation differs from arbitration or a trial. Instead, a mediator is experienced in bringing two sides together to resolve their issues. In that way, mediation resembles a more structured approach to settlement negotiation. Mediation can be very helpful in resolving outstanding issues, reducing the time involved in the divorce, and reducing overall attorneys' fees and costs. If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney will attend mediation with you.
If your case does not settle at mediation, the pre-trial conference is the next step. If it appears that the matter is unlikely to settle, the judge will discuss pre-trial motions and trial logistics with the attorneys. This may include exchanging witnesses and evidence to be presented at trial. At the pretrial conference, you will also found out when your trial date will take place.
If you are facing a divorce trial, it is important to understand the steps that will be involved in the process. The trial itself can be thought of as a long hearing, sometimes covering several days. Because trials can be so stressful, it is always better to have an attorney represent you. Your attorney will know the ins and outs of the law and of that judge's courtroom, which can give you a much better chance of success. First, your attorney will need to spend time preparing for the trial, including preparing exhibits, subpoenas and formulating a line of questioning for each potential witness. At the end of the trial, the court will make a decision on the outstanding issues. Commonly contested issues in a divorce trial include child custody, support, and property division. By being prepared for the trial process, you can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the divorce.
If you are facing a divorce in Tulsa, Oklahoma or surrounding counties, call the experienced attorneys at Tiffany Graves Law to discuss your options.