Understanding divorce laws in Muskogee and how they may affect your Oklahoma divorce is a critical first step to divorce. Divorce laws have a profound effect on lives for years to come. Seek the counsel of a Muskogee divorce attorney to get the help you need during this difficult time.
Divorce laws differ by jurisdiction. Tribal members can file for divorce in state court or in their respective tribal courts. McGirt v. Oklahoma (2020) restored recognized reservation boundaries of five tribes to include most of Eastern Oklahoma. State and tribal courts are in the process of sorting out how McGirt affects family law matters.
As a result, tribal courts may decline to accept family law cases, transferring the matter to state court. Each case should be considered based on the particular facts and the current laws, policies, and practices of the tribe involved.
Filing For Divorce In A Muskogee State Court
Oklahoma divorce laws affect all aspects of a Muskogee divorce. The process starts with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This is a document that must be prepared and filed with the court in the county in which you and your spouse live. Once that is done, it is served on the other spouse.
Oklahoma divorces require that the Petitioner state the legal grounds for divorce. Oklahoma has both “fault” and “no-fault” divorces. Most are “no-fault” divorces grounded in incompatibility or irreconcilable differences.
Serving Divorce Papers In Muskogee
Divorce papers must be served upon the other spouse. Usually, a professional process server handles this.
Normally, the process server directly hands the papers to the other spouse. The process server then fills out a Proof of Service form. Next, they file that with the court.
There are other methods of service of process. Sometimes, a spouse may evade service.
Oklahoma laws are specific about how service may be completed. For example, service of process by publication in a newspaper in the locality where the spouse lives. To do this, a process server must make reasonable efforts to personally serve the spouse first.
A Spouse’s Response
A spouse may choose to file an answer, called a response, to the petition. If the spouse wants to make new allegations against the Petitioner, the responding spouse may file a counterclaim against the Petitioner. An experienced divorce attorney should handle this.
Automatic Temporary Injunction
A petition for divorce, legal separation, or annulment triggers an automatic temporary injunction. The injunction is mandatory, although certain parts of it may be waived. It is meant to protect the status quo regarding assets and children until more permanent orders can be put into place. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 110
The injunction freezes all marital assets other than regular day-to-day expenditures. Spouses may not hide, destroy, damage, or encumber any marital property, retirement accounts, or insurance policies without the written consent of the other party or an order from the court.
Also, parents may not disrupt their children’s lives. For example, parents may not withdraw their children from school or daycare, hide their children from the other party, or take their children outside the court’s jurisdiction for more than two weeks without the other parent’s written consent.
Waiting Periods And Quick Divorce In Oklahoma
A couple without children can get a state court divorce in Oklahoma in as little as 10 days. The divorcing couple must agree on all issues such as the division of assets.
When children are involved, Oklahoma state courts require a 90-day waiting period before they will issue the final order. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 107.1
Sometimes, courts will waive the waiting period if both parties agree. Courts may also waive it if the spouses have attended marital counseling and the court determines that it is unlikely that the couple will reunite.
A Note On Protective Orders
Protective orders are often sought early in the proceedings of heavily contested divorces. Protective orders can be issued to protect a spouse from harassment by the other spouse.
There are pluses and minuses to asking for one in a divorce. Too often, a spouse may use a protective order to try to gain leverage in the divorce.
Also, protective orders can pull a family further apart and make handling the divorce more difficult. Thus, they should only be used when necessary.
Hearings In The Oklahoma Divorce Process
A court will not issue most orders without a hearing. When a spouse needs a temporary order regarding support, child visitation, or the like, these matters are usually resolved by a court hearing. Hearings vary quite a bit from judge to judge. Some require formal presentations of evidence, while some are less formal.
Some hearings are purely procedural. These include status conferences, pre-trial hearings, and the scheduling of settlement conferences.
Divorce Laws Regarding Children
When children are involved, couples must resolve issues of custody, support, and visitation. Early in the process, a couple must submit a parenting plan to the court if one or both parents request joint custody.
The plan covers all the logistics concerning the children such as:
- when the children will live with each parent;
- who will arrange and pay for health and dental insurance;
- child support details;
- a visitation schedule; and
- information regarding the children’s school and extracurricular activities.
The court uses the plan to put orders in place regarding the children. Sometimes, the court may deny joint custody.
Divorce Laws: Child Custody And Child Support
These issues can be among the most difficult for parents to resolve. Custody can be sole or joint.
When parents can agree on custody, the court will order the custody agreed to by the parents if it is in the best interests of the child. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 112
It is important that children maintain frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Courts use this as a benchmark goal in awarding custody. This often results in joint custody, but it can result in sole custody with frequent visitation as well.
Oklahoma divorce laws dictate that child support be determined by statutory guidelines. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118
The guideline calculator looks at the income of both parents along with allowable expenses such as housing, food, day care, other support payments, and medical and dental insurance. The guideline amount can be adjusted. Adjustments are often made depending on the number of nights spent with each parent.
The Discovery Process In Oklahoma Divorce
When parents cannot initially agree about the issues that must be resolved, a divorce will be placed on a trial track and discovery will begin. Discovery is the opportunity for both sides to share information regarding the issues to be resolved. It can help narrow issues at trial and prevent last-minute surprises.
Discovery has certain formal tools such as:
Interrogatories: These are written questions. The other party must answer in written form.
Requests for production of documents and other evidence: A party can request relevant documents and other forms of evidence from the other party.
Depositions: Recorded testimony taken under oath.
Requests for admissions that certain facts be admitted as true.
Settlement Negotiations And Mediation
All divorce issues must be agreed upon settled, mediated, or submitted for trial. The more issues that a couple resolves themselves, the more control they have over the outcome of the divorce and the less expensive the divorce will be. Attorneys can provide a valuable buffer between parties in settling their issues.
Mediation is another tool that can be very helpful in resolving outstanding issues. A mediator brings the two sides together to help resolve their issues.
Even if mediation does not resolve all a couple’s issues, it can make a couple understand that they can come to a resolution on more than they may have previously thought. This can be instrumental in resolving other issues short of trial.
The Divorce Trial
Unresolved issues will be set for trial. A pre-trial conference is set to identify unresolved issues. The court will decide on the format of the trial and will determine what witnesses and documents will be admissible at trial.
Trials can be expensive. Attorneys spend time preparing a trial brief for the court outlining all the issues and evidence, preparing trial exhibits, and witness testimony. The judge then rules on the matters presented at trial and the matter then moves to the issuing of the final decree of divorce.
The Oklahoma Divorce Decree: A Court Order
A divorce decree finalizes the divorce. It is an order signed by the judge and will include the date which your divorce is final. Often the Marital Settlement Agreement is attached to the order and becomes part of it.
It is critical that you get legal help while going through this process. Hire an experienced Muskogee attorney today. The decisions you make now will affect your life for years to come.
Free Consultation: Muskogee Divorce Attorney
Are you facing a divorce in Muskogee and feel that you need help? Get the help you need and avoid making regrettable errors during a time when you are possibly going through intense emotions. Talk to a Muskogee divorce lawyer today.
Our knowledgeable divorce attorneys pride themselves on providing you the best possible legal representation at reasonable rates.
Call 918-913-0725 today for an initial free consultation with a Muskogee divorce attorney. You can also submit the question form at the top right of this page.