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Tulsa Divorce: Know Your Rights

Tulsa divorce

A date in divorce court can be a frightening prospect. During marital conflict that precipitates a divorce, a spouse may have threatened to withhold support, seize property or abscond with children. A spouse’s access to funds for expensive counsel may create the impression that they can make good on threats.

Fortunately, Oklahoma law protects your rights in a divorce. Tulsa family courts are obligated to faithfully interpret and apply the law. Your rights to property acquired during a marriage, your rights as a parent and your rights to alimony are defined by law. Tulsa divorce lawyers seek to assure that your rights and interests are represented in court.

Who gets what isn’t a matter of who has the most expensive Tulsa divorce attorneys. It’s not what a conflicted spouse said in the heat of passion. Who gets what in a divorce depends on what is shown in court or what was decided through negotiation. Because we know Oklahoma family law, the experienced Tulsa Oklahoma divorce lawyer at Divorce of Tulsa Law Office can often negotiate with opposing council to reach an amicable divorce settlement, in some cases avoiding unnecessary stress and expense of a trial.

Right to Property in Divorce

Oklahoma provides for spouses to maintain joint or individually owned property. Tulsa divorce courts recognize some property acquired prior to a marriage as the sole property of a spouse after a divorce.

Oklahoma law provides for equitable distribution of marital property. That doesn’t always mean equal distribution. Nor does it mean that title to property determines who gets what.

Property acquired by the effort of both spouses is shared property. Gifts, inheritances or property acquired by trading individual property usually remains the property of the spouse to whom it was given. An exception is transmutation. That happens when assets are commingled, or title to what was once a spouses property is jointly held by both.

Right to Pensions in Divorce

Retirement funds accumulated during a marriage are generally treated as marital property. That can be a fine line when the pension continues to accumulate after a marriage. A qualified Tulsa Oklahoma divorce attorney can advise you how a Tulsa court is likely to divide pension assets.

Right to Future Earnings

You worked while your spouse went to college. Your effort allowed the spouse to potentially earn more in the future. Oklahoma does not recognize those potential earnings as property. However, the non-student spouse in a Tulsa divorce may be entitled to a cash settlement for the contribution they made while the other studied.

Rights During a Divorce

In Tulsa, and throughout Oklahoma, when a person files for a divorce, a statutory injunction automatically goes into temporary effect against both parties. The presumptive injunction essentially freezes assets from being diminished, damaged or destroyed during the divorce. During an Oklahoma divorce, a spouse is prohibited from:

  • transferring, encumbering, concealing or disposing of marital property.
  • damaging or destroying marital property.
  • withdrawing from retirement, profit-sharing, pension, death or employee benefits
  • canceling or altering insurance policy
  • opening or diverting mail
  • signing or endorsing the other’s name
  • disturbing the peace of children
  • disrupting children’s education
  • hiding children from spouse
  • removing children beyond jurisdiction of the state, except for vacations of two weeks or less, without prior written consent.

Right to Peace and Safety in Divorce

When it comes to the law, the old adage that “all’s fair in love and war” doesn’t hold water. No matter the circumstance, a former partner can’t harass, intimidate, threaten or assault you before, during or after a divorce proceeding. Oklahoma laws, like those of most states, provides enhanced criminal penalties for those who assault or batter a member of their household. When things get too testy, many divorcing spouses ask Tulsa courts for a restraining order to keep the other party at a safe distance.

Right to Alimony in Oklahoma

Oklahoma law provides means for spouses to receive ongoing support, or alimony after a divorce based on their need, a spouse’s ability to pay alimony and the standard of living to which they were accustomed during the marriage. Alimony may be awarded when spouses take up separate residences, even if they don’t seek a divorce.

Alimony obligations generally terminate when the recipient remarries, but may be continued if the remarried partner demonstrates an ongoing need for support. Obligations under property division orders – such as entitlement to part of a retirement fund — are not terminated when a former spouse remarries.

Gender doesn’t matter in alimony

Don’t go by what’s on the books. An archaic Oklahoma law says only women are entitled to alimony. In a 1979 decision the United States Supreme Court struck down an Alabama law that only allowed women to collect alimony.

Gender does matter in alimony

The concept of same-sex marriage or domestic partnerships has found support in some states, but not in Oklahoma. While some Tulsa couples may assert claims for a common law marriage, courts are unlikely to go along with claims that domestic partners of the same gender are entitled to the privileges afforded to Tulsa couples  who consider themselves married under common law.

Misconduct doesn’t matter in alimony

Generally, alimony is awarded based on need and ability to pay. Tulsa courts don’t award alimony as a penalty for the misconducton of cheating partners or abusive spouses. An exception is when a spouse’s misconduct aggravated the need for support.

Right to Child Support

Oklahoma law affords children in Tulsa the right to ongoing support after dissolution of a marriage. While Tulsa courts order one parent to pay the other child support, it is generally appreciated as the child’s right. Unlike alimony, which can be awarded at the discretion of a court, child support is usually appropriated under a standard formula based on the child’s needs, the parents’ ability to pay and who provides custodial support.

Right to Child Custody in Divorce

Divorcing parents may be awarded either sole custody, joint custody or split custody of minor children. In sole custody, the custodial parent can exercise control over child-rearing decisions. The other parent is usually afforded visitation rights. Split custody involves multiple children with different living arrangements, often with shared physical custody between both parents.

In joint custody, parents may have either legal or physical custody. In joint legal custody, each parent has an equal voice in decision-making about the child’s welfare. Physical custody may involve each parent having extensive or equal time with a child, but the other may exercise more control over long-range decisions. Parents requesting joint custody must submit a detailed plan for court approval.

Tulsa divorce courts consider several factors when determining custody arrangements. The first concern is children’s best interest. Any form of abuse can diminish a parent’s standing in custody hearings. A parent’s sexual proclivities such as extramarital affairs or violation of individual moral concepts, however repugnant they may be to others, are generally not a factor unless they would adversely affect a child.

A parent who may be likely to interfere with visitation by the other parent may be less likely to get a custody decision in their favor. The court consider a child’s preferences in making a custody decision.

Right to Reconcile After Divorce

Okay, sometimes things work out. Unless one or both parties have remarried, Tulsa, Okla. divorce laws in most cases allows spouses to vacate a divorce decree. You or your former spouse can’t harangue, harass or otherwise intimate the other against their wishes, but if you are one of those few who somehow work things out, good for the both of you. Better luck this time. Come back to court with a mutual agreement and the divorce can be vacated.

Free Consultation about Divorce: Tulsa Lawyer

For a free consultation with a Tulsa divorce lawyer, call Divorce Law Office of Tulsa, or send us a question using the contact form on this page. For a free confidential consultation, call now: 918-924-5526