Divorce is a more detailed process than many people expect. While most people are aware that divorce is the formal legal process of ending a marriage, it is also a process of assigning separate ownership rights of the couple’s marital property and resolving any other financial matters between the spouses. This allows each of them to effectively have a fresh financial start after a divorce, and they will also ensure both spouses receive appropriate shares of their marital property.
While property division is likely to be contentious in any divorce, this is just one of the financial issues you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse must resolve to complete your divorce. Additionally, the outcome of the divorce and the financial agreements you must adhere to following your proceedings will likely impact your life in various ways. Therefore, you need to know what these issues are and how to prepare for them to have the best chance of reaching acceptable terms for your divorce.
Understanding Property Division in Oklahoma Divorce
Every married spouse has two types of property. Their separate property is anything they owned before marriage, gifts they received, and anything provided to them in a donatory capacity. Inheritance from family members also qualifies as separate property. They also share marital property with their spouse. Marital property is everything a married couple acquires during their marriage, such as the income they have both earned, property they have purchased with marital funds, and investments they have made into their marriage and household.
Property division is the formal legal process of transforming a marital property into separate property. This can be done in various ways depending on the demands of a specific case. For example, divorcing spouses could effectively negotiate “trades” of specific assets in private negotiations if they pursue alternative dispute resolution. It’s also possible for them to liquidate certain assets and divide the proceeds to resolve property division.
Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state when it comes to property division. This means divorcing spouses must split their marital property in the fairest possible way. This may seem reasonable and straightforward, but divorcing spouses rarely agree on what is fairest in dividing marital property. Alternative dispute resolution offers the chance to resolve this issue privately, but there is no guarantee it will be fruitful in a hotly contested divorce. If not, property division must be resolved in litigation, and the judge overseeing the case will deliver a final ruling on the matter.
Alimony in an Oklahoma City, OK, Divorce
Alimony, also called spousal support, is money one former spouse pays the other following the finalization of their divorce. This ongoing support accounts for the supported spouse’s inability to earn money and support themselves and/or to help them maintain a similar standard of living as they had while married. The amount the supporting spouse must pay each month generally hinges on the differences the spouses have in income, while the length of time payments continue depends on how long the marriage lasted.
Many factors influence alimony determinations, and judges in equitable distribution states commonly strive to avoid these arrangements if possible. For example, a judge could award a larger share of marital property instead of spousal support in a divorce between spouses with very different income levels. However, the paying spouse must continue making payments per their spousal support order or until the supported spouse completes a terminating action. Terminating actions are anything that would disqualify the supported spouse from the need for further alimony payments, such as cohabitation with a new partner or marrying a new spouse.
Child Support in Oklahoma
Another major financial issue that your divorce could entail is child support, which is money paid from one parent to another after parents end their marriage. When one parent assumes a greater custody responsibility than the other, they become the “custodial” parent and will likely receive child support payments each month from the noncustodial parent. A family court judge must resolve child custody and child support; this is not an issue divorcing parents may negotiate privately with any firm and legally enforceable results. The court must protect the best interests of their children; therefore, the court has the final say regarding custody and child support.
Failure to pay child support on time and in full can carry severe repercussions, especially willful violations of child support orders. If, for any reason, you believe your support order is unfair, or if you recently experienced a change in your life you did not expect that materially impacts the terms of your standing support order, you can petition for modification. As long as you can demonstrate the need for the requested change is beyond your control, a judge may see the logic of it and approve it with minimal issue. It’s also possible for a modification petition to be contested by the other parent. An experienced attorney is the best asset for resolving these issues. Your legal team can advise you on the best ways of altering an existing child support order if necessary.
Future Financial Complications After Divorce
No matter how well you think you are prepared for your divorce, you are likely to encounter some financial issues you simply cannot address on your own. Additionally, the outcome of the divorce might be agreeable at first, only for you to gradually realize that it is not tenable in the long term or that your family court order contains unfair, imbalanced, or unrealistic terms following a major change in your life.
Divorce can potentially require parting with a significant portion of your marital property. Some couples must sell their family homes and divide the proceeds to resolve property division. Other divorces involve criminal activity like fraud and domestic violence, limiting the spouses’ options for resolving divorce and other family court matters in the midst of criminal court proceedings. Child support and alimony can be components of court orders that persist for many years.
If you face complex financial issues, such as property division in a high-net-worth divorce, your attorney’s guidance and support will be essential throughout your case. It’s natural to worry about the financial issues you will need to resolve in your upcoming divorce case, so reach out to an experienced Oklahoma City, OK, divorce attorney if you want the best chance of resolving these issues as efficiently as possible.