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You should always know the fundamentals of a legal case before it begins, including divorce cases. You want to know what laws Oklahoma uses, what legal steps you can take, and what to expect from both the process and the eventual ruling by a judge. It can be far more than just filling out paperwork and waiting for your marriage to be over. Below are some of the major things that you should be aware of.
The residency restrictions mean that you cannot move to Oklahoma and file for a divorce right away; you would either have to do it before the move or after you have been in Oklahoma for a minimum of six months. However, it is important to note that only one of you -— you or your spouse -— needs to be in the state for that long, and not both.
When determining the grounds for your divorce, you have a few options. First, if you do not want to declare that your spouse is at fault, you can choose a no-fault divorce that is based on irreconcilable differences. If you do want to say that your spouse is at fault, you can use the actions that he or she took as grounds for the divorce —- this includes things like abuse or infidelity, which could also help you win a custody battle. Finally, if you and your spouse have been separated on your own for a year, that itself can be grounds to go forward with a legal split.
Equitable division, and not equal division, is going to be used in Oklahoma. This could mean that the split is fairly equal, but do not assume that you and your spouse are automatically going to get 50 percent. The judge will try to determine what type of split will be fair. To do this, he or she will look at numerous factors, including how much income each party brought to the marriage, what income levels you will both see after the divorce, how the child custody case was resolved and who has to care for the child, and many other things of this nature. You and your spouse can also contribute to this if you have reached a decision -— such as allowing your spouse to have the main home while you take the summer home, for instance.
You or your spouse can seek sole custody —- both legal and physical -— if you want, but you will need to show the court why that is the best option. For instance, if your spouse was abusive, sole custody to you may be warranted. However, the court starts out with the outlook that you and your spouse should have joint custody and visitation rights, meaning that you will both be involved. This is the default position, which can only be changed when you show that an alternative would be better for the child. The child's best interests are going to be the most important point in the case.
Once child custody has been established, child support can be determined as well. This is based on earning levels from both parents and on the responsibilities that you both hold. For example, if you won a custody battle and have to take care of the child, it may be assumed that you take on many financial types of support automatically, so your spouse could be ordered to make higher payments to make up for that. Support is also based on how much you earn and how much you can afford. Once again, the child's best interests are always considered first, and child support is only meant to help pay for the child's needs.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified divorce lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local divorce attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.