Our family law attorneys handle cases in all 77 Oklahoma counties.

 

We understand the immense amount of stress associated with major life transitions and will do our best to ease the process with our unique blend of honesty, objectivity, creativity, discretion, common sense, and compassion, backed by experience in the most personal of legal practices.

Because each case comes with its own unique obstacles, our attorneys are well-equipped in assisting clients with most difficult family law matters.
 

    Our areas of family law counsel includes:

    • Dissolution of marriage/divorce or legal separation

    • Adoption

    • Guardianship

    • Paternity actions

    • Complex financial issues and asset valuation

    • Modification of existing court orders

    • Harassment restraining orders and orders for protection

    • Cohabitation agreements

    • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements

    • Child support proceedings

    • Establishment of custody and parenting time

    • Third-party custody proceedings

    • Family law appeals
       

    At our first meeting we will discuss:

    • Who is involved in the case (parties, grandparents, children, step-children, etc.)

    • Your unique goals and expectations in this case

    • Timelines and projected court appearances

    • Financial obligations, payment plans

    • Additional documentation that we will need to prepare your case

    • You will be given login information for our client portal which will allow you to upload and review documents, message attorneys and staff, view billing statements, and check court dates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

     

    Frequently Asked Questions: The Basics

    Is Oklahoma a “fault state”?

    As of the Spring of 2017, Oklahoma is a no-fault divorce state. However, there are bills almost every legislative session to change Oklahoma from a “no fault” state to a “fault state.”  Being a no-fault state means that if one party testifies that there are “irreconcilable differences” and that there is currently no hope of reconciliation, the court will grant a divorce. Often times parties will want to cite drug abuse, alcohol abuse, cheating, or other reasons for the divorce; however, none of this is relevant to the Court granting a divorce. The only time those issues may be considered by the court is if the substance abuse, cheating, or other indiscretion effect custody, visitation, or division of the marital assets and debts.


    How much will it cost to file for divorce?

    Filing fees are controlled by the Court system and can vary by county. As of 2017, most initial divorce filings are between $200-275. These fees are set by the courts and cannot be negotiated or waived. In addition to the filing fees, the party who files for divorce will need to pay to serve the Responding party. Process server fees are usually $50-100, but can be more if the Respondent lives out of the state or out of the country.   

    In addition to state mandated filing fees and process server fees, you will pay your attorney and their legal staff an up-front retainer and be billed at an hourly rate. It is difficult to predict how much attorney time and staff time will be necessary to protect your rights and attempt to accomplish your goals.  Obviously, the more complex the issues or the higher the number of contested issues, the more time will be necessary to devote to your case.  


    How are divorce papers served?

    Proper service can be obtained through certified mailing, but we prefer to personally serve a party through a private process server or the County Sheriff’s office.
     

    Will I need to go to court at any time during my divorce?

    Like most lawyer answers, it depends. If the matter is uncontested, it is possible to never step foot into a courtroom. However, if it is contested, meaning you and your soon-to-be-ex disagree over at least one issue, you will likely appear in court at least once.


    What will happen to my retirement funds and 401(k)?

    Divorce proceedings only address assets and debts that were accrued during the marriage. If your 401(k) existed before the marriage, the value of the 401(k) prior to the marriage is your personal property. If the 401(k) grew during the marriage, the amount of the growth can be considered an asset of the marriage and can be divided as part of the marital estate.  


    How long until my divorce is final?

    If the parties are in agreement, divorces without minor children can be finalized in as little as 10 days after the Petition for Divorce is Filed.  We call these “uncontested” divorces.  If there are minor children who were born during the marriage, Oklahoma law requires a 90-day waiting period and requires both parents to complete a parenting class before finalizing an uncontested divorce with children.

    If the parties are not in agreement, the matter is “contested” and can take months or years depending on the facts. To put it in perspective, the Harold Hamm divorce case was the largest and most expensive divorce case in the country.  The case took place in Oklahoma County and took almost 3 years to complete. Most cases finalize within 1 year.


    What happens if we reconcile?

    At any time during the proceedings, the parties can agree to dismiss a case without prejudice to either party. If the reconciliation happens after the divorce is final, the parties are allowed to remarry immediately without a waiting period.


    How can I get divorced if the other party controls all the money?

    Oklahoma allows parties to file an Application for Suit Monies, where the Court would order part of the marital estate (such as money from a bank account) to immediately be paid for attorney fees. In addition to suit money, a party can apply for temporary orders regarding possession of the marital home, alimony, and other means of support.  
     

    Who pays for the divorce?  

    In most cases, each party pays for their own attorney fees and costs.  However, in certain cases it is appropriate to ask that one party pay both parties’ attorneys fees and costs.  


    Is mediation less costly than retaining a lawyer?

    Mediation can be a cost efficient and effective resolution. However, mediators are required to be neutral and cannot advise you as to your legal rights.  If you reach an agreement at mediation, it can be enforced in Court regardless of whether you had an attorney or not. Often times, our clients will ask us to attend mediation with them. In most contested cases, the judge will require the parties to attend mediation before allowing a trial on the merits.


    How should I prepare for the mediation process?

    Prior to mediation, your attorney will sit down with you and discuss the mediation process in full.  Different mediators handle mediation different- some like the parties and their attorneys to be in the same room while others prefer to keep the parties in different rooms.  If you elect to have your attorney attend mediation with you (as we strongly recommend), you will never be separated from your attorney and you will be allowed to have private conversations with your attorney outside the presence of the mediator and the other party.

    In preparation for mediation, you and your attorney will again discuss your goals regarding custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and marital assets and debts.  Often we will prepare a spreadsheet prior to mediation regarding marital assets and debts and assign values to things like furniture, vehicles, and other things of value.  
     

    Should a spouse's attorney act as the mediator?

    Mediation requires a neutral third party. If a party has hired an attorney, that attorney represents their client.  Attorneys cannot represent opposing parties.  Therefore, we strongly advise against attending a “mediation” where the other party's’ attorney is serving as the mediator.  However, in certain cases, we will agree to try to reach an agreement with the other party and their attorney in a neutral setting without a third party mediator if it is appropriate for the case at hand.


    What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce?

    Divorce ends a legally valid marriage; annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed and declares it null and void.
     

    Frequently Asked Questions: With Children

    Who receives custody of children in a divorce?

    Custody is the legal authority to act in the best interest of the children and make decisions regarding their residence, schools, doctors, etc.  Custody has nothing to do with the amount of time a parent spends with a child.  The amount of time a child spends with a parent is considered visitation.

    Oklahoma courts determine custody based on the “best interest of the child(ren)”, which can include several factors.  At the beginning of a case, the Court will generally award temporary Joint Custody to both parties unless there is evidence to suggest joint custody is not in the best interest of the child(ren).  The Temporary Orders of the Court can be modified before the final ruling or can be modified by the final ruling of the Court, usually after a trial on the merits.  


    Can a parent be granted custody if he or she has a history of domestic abuse?  

    Oklahoma courts and the Oklahoma legislature are constantly updating case law and state law to address this issue. Currently, Oklahoma courts look at the “best interest of the child/children” to determine custody and visitation. “The best interest of the child/children” can include many factors, including evidence of prior bad acts and whether the children were exposed to the domestic abuse. Domestic abuse cases are very nuanced and require an attorney experienced in cases with allegations of domestic abuse. Our office is proud to offer a free 30 minute consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys to discuss allegations of domestic abuse in family law cases..


    Who pays for the divorce?

    Like all good lawyer answers, it depends.  It depends on if we can prove the abuse occurred, when the abuse happened, who the abuse was directed towards, whether or not the children have been harmed or could be harmed by the abuse.  In a lot of cases where there are allegations of domestic abuse, the Court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem, for the children.  Every case is unique and this is something that would need to be discussed with your attorney.


    What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

    A Guardian Ad Litem (sometimes called a “G.A.L.”) is an attorney appointed to represent the children in hopes that children will not need to attend court proceedings or testify at trial.  Often times the cost of a Guardian ad Litem is split between the parties.  The G.A.L. will meet with the children, talk to both parties, talk to their teachers, doctors, coaches, or any other person who may have insight as to the best interest of the children.  The G.A.L. will write a report and will testify to the Judge as to their findings on behalf of the children to the judge.  Guardian Ad Litems are appointed by the judge, but sometimes they are recommended by the attorneys on the case.


    He/she says they'll claim I'm an unfit parent if I don't sign over custody.

    Relinquishing custody without the advice of an attorney is rarely a good idea.  We highly suggest you contact our office for a free 30 minute consultation before relinquishing custody.

    Can supervised visitation be a condition in our custody agreement?

    Yes.  Supervised visits can be arranged by agreement or ordered by the Court.


    Custody vs. Visitation

    When children are at issue, there are two primary issues: custody and visitation.  Being awarded custody means you are responsible for the decisions affecting the child: where the child will live, where the child will attend school, which doctor the child will see.

    Sometimes parents are awarded joint custody meaning that both parents are involved in these decisions. Other times one parent is given sole custody, which allows them to act unilaterally, without input from the other parent. Still, other times the parties are awarded joint custody, but one parent is given “final decision making authority” meaning that the parents need to discuss the situation in good faith to reach an agreement in the best interest of the child/children, but if an agreement cannot be reached between the parents, one parent has final say.  

    Custody has nothing to do with the amount of time a parent spends with the child.  Visitation deals exclusively with the amount of time the parent spends with the child.  You can view at our resources page for some of the visitation schedules that are used in different counties. Not all cases follow the standard visitation schedule. Sometimes the parties or the Court decide it is in the best interest of the child to deviate from the standard schedule.
     

    Frequently Asked Questions: Domestic Abuse

    How do I start a divorce if my abusive husband/wife controls everything?

    There are several resources throughout the state who can help implement a safety plan prior to filing for divorce.  One of the most well known resources is the YWCA in Oklahoma City.  Safety of the parties and the children is always the number one priority.  We advise contacting a resource, such as the YWCA to devise a safety plan and scheduling a free 30 minute consult with one of our family law lawyers.


    She/He tells me I won't get anything if I leave.

    Oklahoma is a “no fault” divorce state, meaning the courts do not give preference to to either the Petitioner or the Respondent. Oklahoma courts strive to divide marital assets and debts equitably, meaning “fairly and impartially.”
     

    I'm afraid of how he/she'll react if I file for a divorce.

    Everyone reacts differently to being served with divorce papers.  If there are safety concerns, we will discuss safety plan options at our initial meeting.  In addition, you will have input as to when the Petition gets filed and how and when we serve the other party.


    What if s/he's been harassing me ever since I left?

    Harassment, whether it is in person or electronic (relentless text message, social media posts, etc) can be addressed through a Petition for Protective Orders, commonly known as a Victim’s Protective Order, a VPO, or a PO.  To obtain a Protective Order, you or your attorney will file a Petition for Protective Order and the Court will make an “emergency” decision that same day that either enters an emergency protective order or denies an emergency protective order and sets a court date to determine if a temporary or permanent protective order is appropriate.  If you have a pending family case, the Protective Order case will be consolidated with the family law proceeding and eventually heard before the same judge that presides over the family law case.

    If a Protective Order is granted and the defendant violates the Protective Order, they can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor.
     

    How will hiS/her abuse towards me affect our divorce?

    Like all good lawyer answers, it depends.  Some parties who have survived domestic violence choose not to bring it up in family law proceedings because they prefer to expedite the case as quickly as possible instead of proving the elements of domestic abuse.  Other parties choose to address it because it affects custody and visitation.  This is something that will be discussed in detail at your first consultation with your attorney.


    How can I claim that s/he abused me if I have no proof?

    Domestic violence can be proven in a number of ways: police reports, text messages, photos, testimony of the parties or testimony of third parties who witnessed the abuse. However, because Oklahoma is a no-fault divorce state, (link to “fault state’ FAQ, the issue of domestic violence is presented only if it affects issues before the court such as  safety of the parties, custody and visitation of children, and division of marital assets and debts.
     

    Is it considered domestic violence if s/he threatened me with a knife?

    Threat of harm can be considered domestic abuse.  If you are in an abusive situation, we strongly suggest immediately contacting a community resource, such as the YWCA, to create a safety plan.
     

    How do I get my personal belongings if s/he locks me out?

    If you have left the marital residence but still have property in the residence, there are several ways to get access to your property.  Sometimes your attorney and the other party’s attorney can reach an agreement regarding access to the home.  Other times, the Court will order a specific time to remove your personal items.  Parties will often request a “civil standby” where a law enforcement officer will be present during the removal of the personal property.


    Will I lose everything because I had to leave for protection?

    No.  Oklahoma courts do not give preference to the party that left or the party that stayed.  The courts will almost always divide the marital assets as equitably as possible.
     

    What can I do if s/he continues to abuse me through the legal system?

    At any time during a proceeding, you can apply for a Protective order.