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Divorce

Going through a divorce is often one of, if not the, most stressful time of your life—and it’s important to find the right attorney to walk through the process with you and protect your best interests. Reach out to Duncan & Hill Law Firm for a free divorce consultation to see if we are the right law firm for you.

Oklahoma is a “No-Fault” State

Since 1952, Oklahoma has been a “no-fault” divorce state. This means Oklahoma recognizes “incompatibility” as grounds for divorce, so it is no longer necessary to prove the opposing spouse did wrong in order to be granted a divorce.

Who can Get Divorced in Oklahoma and Where do You File for Divorce?

Any married person may file for a divorce in Oklahoma so long as one of the spouses has been a resident here for 6 months or longer. The spouse filing for divorce in Oklahoma must file their divorce either in the county where they have lived for at least 30 days prior to filing, or in the county in which their spouse resides. If each spouse resides in a different county within Oklahoma and each files for divorce, the divorce will be handled in the county in which the first spouse filed.

Why is DHS (Department of Human Services) Involved?

Clients are often of the mistaken belief that DHS is only a party to a court action when someone has made an allegation of neglect/abuse against one of the parents. This is not true. Oklahoma law requires that DHS be served with the divorce papers alongside the opposing party anytime a child of the parties is receiving “public assistance money.” Public assistance money includes medical coverage, medical insurance coverage and child support. When DHS is a party to the divorce, a DHS worker must approve the order of the court before it can be finalized.

What are the Steps to Divorce?

In a contested divorce, the first step is to hire an attorney who then files their entry of appearance. This document lets the court know that you are being represented by counsel. The entry of appearance may be filed simultaneously with the petition for divorce, which must include an affidavit signed by the filing spouse. If your spouse files for divorce first, then your attorney will file your response and counterclaim within 20 days of you being served. The divorce petition must be served on the opposing spouse within 180 days from the date of filing, or else the court may choose to dismiss the action altogether (which wastes your filing fee).

The divorce petition must be filed with an automatic temporary injunction filing. This automatic temporary injunction will restrain both parties from many activities including hiding or spending the marital wealth, changing the children’s schools or daycares, or moving the children outside of the state.

The first hearing in the case is the temporary order hearing. The temporary order resulting from this hearing will dictate the status quo during the pendency of the divorce action. The temporary order may include many things, but typically will establish at least where the parties will live while the divorce is pending, where the children will reside, and who will retain the various pieces of property for the meantime (ie: vehicles, boats, motorcycles, gold, jewels etc.).

The parties may choose to negotiate with each other in order to determine who will have what property and what type of child custody arrangement they will have. At Duncan & Hill Law Firm, we often encourage our clients to mediate. Every divorcing couple is different, but we oftentimes find that sitting down in mediation and allowing a professional mediator to navigate the various issues in the divorce can be of great benefit. Frequently we find that mediation can save time and money for our clients as we are often able to boil down the issues and find what is actually important to each side in the divorce. It may be that through mediation, the parties can meet in the middle on certain issues and at the very minimum, be given an opportunity to voice their opinion and reasoning to the other side. If no agreement can be made, or if only a partial agreement can be reached—the judge will hear the parties’ evidence at a bench trial and make final decisions in the case for them. Once the judge makes the final decision and order, the attorney must file the final Decree of Dissolution which will spell out the terms of the divorce.

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