Unless you can reach a satisfactory agreement for a settlement or there is a valid prenuptial agreement, because Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state the judge will decide how marital assets will be divided.
How Does the Court Decide What is Fair Under Oklahoma Equitable Distribution Law?
Due to Oklahoma equitable distribution law, the court takes into consideration a variety of factors to arrive at a fair and reasonable divorce settlement that will leave the spouses in similar positions after the divorce.
The judge will take into account each spouse’s separate personal property, the value of the marital assets and how much each contributed, and what each spouse needs to move forward with their lives. He or she will also consider and divide debts in basically the same manner.
When a petition for an Oklahoma divorce is filed with the court, both the person who filed, called the petitioner, and the other spouse, called the respondent, must submit a list of marital assets and separate personal property to the court within 30 days of the date of the filing, or the date of the summons in the case of the respondent.
If both parties agree in writing to a settlement and submit that agreement to the court, the list is not required.
The documentation must include, but is not limited to the previous income tax returns and supporting documentation, bank statements, and documentation of all debts, whether separate or marital. It also includes assets such as homes, investment properties and accounts, vehicles and other property that has value.
Once the court has obtained the above noted information, he or she will look at the length of the marriage, the earnings of both parties including the value of a spouse who stays home to care for children from the marriage, and future earnings.
The court may also look at any marital misconduct and use that information in making a fair settlement. Generally, misconduct that does not affect the marital assets will not be considered.
For example, a spouse using marital assets to support or buy assets for a girlfriend or a boyfriend would likely be considered by the judge when making an equitable settlement.
What are Marital Assets and What is Separate Personal Property?
Marital assets include cash and property that was acquired after the marriage. Separate personal property basically includes assets that one spouse owned prior to marriage, or inherited or received as a gift during marriage.
There are circumstances that can change the characterization of separate personal property into marital property. For example, one spouse inherited a home and then added his spouse’s name to the deed.
Even if the spouse was not added to the deed, if marital assets were used to improve the property or pay a mortgage or loan related to that asset, it could become marital property.
When is Separate Personal Property Considered a Marital Asset?
Separate personal property can become a marital asset by your actions. For example, you add your spouse’s name to a bank account that you had prior to marriage.
Over the life of your marriage, the funds that were originally in the account can become indistinguishable and untraceable from the marital funds that were originally contributed. In addition, it may be considered that the funds were made a gift to the marriage.
Can the Court Distribute my Separate Personal Property to my Spouse?
If the judge determines that an asset is separate personal property, there are still situations where he or she may award all or a portion of it to the other spouse. For example, if there are no marital assets and your spouse is disabled or unable to support his or herself.
A judge may find that it would make the settlement fair to award your personal property to your spouse. If you have children from the marriage and your spouse is awarded custody, the judge could also award all or a portion of your personal property to the spouse as child support.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Divorce Attorney
If you have questions about Oklahoma equitable distribution law regarding marital assets and separate personal property, you should speak with a Tulsa divorce attorney who has the experience and knowledge to advise you on this complex issue.
Call the Divorce of Tulsa Law Office at 918-924-5526 to make an appointment for your free consultation today.