people think that one of the ugliest words in the English language is
"Divorce". It is an understandably traumatic time. The most
traumatic experience most people will endure in their lives is a
lawsuit. When the lawsuit is filed by someone that once shared
your life and things more valuable than money or "stuff" is at stake,
the difficulty and potential for unnecessary conflict has increased
dramatically. However, before reacting out of anger and hatred
alone, it is important to understand that most of the things to be
decided in a divorce have already been legislated and are law. The
plain truth is, most of the time, the single largest factor contributing
to the expense of a divorce is the actions of the parties themselves.
Consider the following:
Oklahoma is a "no fault state"
which means that a divorce is available for the asking.
There is no need to allege or
prove adultery, abuse, or other harm in order to be assured of
All of the property that
belonged to a party before the marriage will generally remain the
property of that party and are not subject to division.
Any property acquired by a
party after separation is generally considered property of that
party and not subjected to being divided.
Any gifts or inheritance that
was given to only one party will generally remain the property of
that party and will not be subject to being divided.
Alimony is decided based on a
basis of "need" and "ability to pay".
Child support is generally
determined by using the
child support guidelines - which accounts for various factors,
including the incomes of each party and the expenses associated with
the rearing of a child.
Normally, property ends up
being divided by the agreement of the parties. This will
either happen before or after one or both of the parties have paid
large amounts of money in attorney fees.
How the case is approached is up
to the parties. A hotly contested divorce case can lead to
disappointment if the one of the parties believe they will achieve a
result that is too far removed from the facts laid out above.
Often, this kind of combat results in enlarged attorney fees, financial
hardship and frustration with the system.
With that said, it is important to
understand that it is never incumbent on one party to "play dead" for
the other. Each party is entitled to what the law allows. If
someone is unreasonable, you need a divorce attorney that knows how to
fight, and knows how to compromise on favorable terms - all the while
looking out for your financial interests and your objectives. I am
that divorce attorney.
I begin a case by listening to the
objectives and concerns of the client. After listening intently to
the facts of the case, I discuss the client's goals and possible courses
of action. I will then have a frank conversation with the client,
during which we prioritize goals and discuss the potential outcomes.
Then I will aggressively pursue a course of action that is calculated
maximize the potential for realizing the clients goals in a cost
Agreed / Uncontested Divorce
By far the most inexpensive type
of divorce (and thus the one that preserves the marital estate for the
parties to divide) is an agreed or uncontested divorce. These
kinds of divorce are also the fastest. If no children are
involved, a party can be divorced about ten days from from the date of
filing. If children are involved, it will take up ninety days due
to a statutory requirement. In this kind of divorce, the parties
"equitably divide" their property, arrange the child custody, and
schedule visitation. The child support is then set by the
child support guidelines. In these kinds of divorce
proceedings, there is no discovery, no battling attorneys, no motions or
hearings that cause large legal fees. Many times, only one of the
parties will hire an attorney, although it is generally better for each
party to have an attorney to look out for their interests.
A contested divorce is the
stereotypical divorce in which the parties litigate the issues that they
cannot agree on and a judge, after hearing the evidence will determine
the outcome. If the issue at stake is anything that does not
relate to a child, the court attempts to divide the property based on
what is an "equitable division" of the marital estate. At the end
of this, the court will have divided the debts and the assets among the
parties. If the issue involves the child, the court uses the "best
interests of the child" as the guiding principle for resolving the
dispute. These cases are very similar to civil litigation in that
they can involve expert witnesses, depositions,. discovery, motion
hearings, and long trials. (The principle difference is there is
never a jury involved in a divorce proceeding.)