Divorce is usually one of the most difficult experiences of a person’s life. It is perfectly natural to have lots of questions once the idea of divorce becomes a reality for you. Every marriage is unique; therefore, every divorce is unique as well. It’s essential to understand the legal processes involved in divorce and the common questions most people in this situation ask about their legal options.
Does It Matter Who Files for Divorce First?
It typically does not matter if you or your spouse files the initial divorce petition. Unless either of you committed some type of crime or engaged in clearly malicious or unethical behavior that led to the breakdown of your marriage, being the first to file for divorce offers no legal advantage. Once the court receives the initial divorce petition, they will formally serve the divorce papers to the petitioner’s spouse.
What Is the Fastest Way to Divorce in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma typically upholds a 90-day waiting period between the time a divorce agreement is submitted for approval and the divorce is finalized. However, an Oklahoma family court judge may waive this waiting period if neither of the divorcing spouses’ objects. When a divorcing couple must negotiate or mediate their divorce, this may only require a few weeks or months. In contrast, divorce litigation can take several months or even years to reach a conclusion.
It is also possible to secure a “waiver divorce” in Oklahoma under certain conditions. First, the spouses may not have children, and they must agree on all terms of their divorce immediately. When an Oklahoma couple meets the criteria for a waiver divorce, they could secure their divorce decree in as little as ten days from the date of filing.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
Waiver divorces are only possible in uncontested divorces. An “uncontested” divorce means any divorce in which the spouses agree on all terms of their divorce. This is quite rare and typically only occurs with couples who have been married for short periods of time.
What Is a Contested Divorce?
Most divorce cases begin as contested, meaning the spouses do not agree on some or all of the factors of their divorce. The ultimate goal of divorce proceedings is to transform a contested divorce into an uncontested one.
What Should I Expect From Divorce Litigation?
When a divorce case is litigated in court, it proceeds much along the same lines as any other civil case. Both of the divorcing spouses will undergo depositions, provide testimony, and offer evidence. The two sides must exchange their evidence and materials in a process known as discovery, and this may take quite a while to complete.
Following discovery, divorce litigation then proceeds to court appearances, and the judge overseeing the case will eventually deliver a ruling and provide the divorcing couple with their divorce decree. Litigation is a long and complex process, and both of the divorcing spouses will be paying legal fees throughout the entirety of their divorce litigation.
Is There an Alternative to Going to Court for My Divorce?
The vast majority of divorce cases filed in the United States are not settled in litigation. The litigation process is time-consuming and expensive, and it is generally in a couple’s best interests to secure the most expedient divorce possible. Divorce mediation is the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution available in Tulsa, OK. This process allows a divorcing couple to privately negotiate their divorce under the supervision of a neutral mediator, saving them both significant amounts of time, money, and stress.
What Are the Benefits of Mediation?
Aside from being entirely private, unlike divorce litigation that enters public record, divorce mediation is more cost-effective, efficient, and less stressful than litigating a divorce. Mediation provides a low-pressure environment in which the divorcing spouses can civilly negotiate their divorce, ultimately reaching a more personalized result than a judge could have delivered.
Mediation only requires as much time as the divorcing couple needs to comprehensively negotiate their divorce. This method of alternative dispute resolution generally offers the best results to both spouses, allowing them to move on with their lives more easily than difficult litigation could allow.
What Can Be Negotiated in Mediation?
Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state. When a couple divorces, a judge will divide their assets equitably, but not necessarily evenly. This runs in contrast to community property statutes that dictate completely even 50/50 division of assets in divorce. The equitable distribution laws in Oklahoma tend to provide more flexible and individually tailored results to divorcing spouses. However, they cannot provide the same level of detail that can be achieved with mediation.
During mediation, the divorcing spouses can negotiate asset division on their own terms, reaching an equitable division of property that suits their respective needs and expectations more fully than litigation would allow. Mediation also allows the couple to negotiate spousal maintenance. They can also negotiate a parenting plan and custody arrangement for their children, but they cannot make any firm decisions in this regard without a judge’s approval.
How Will My Divorce Case End?
The legal process of divorce ends when a judge signs a divorce decree. The timeline for reaching this point varies from case to case. Ultimately, once a couple receives their divorce decree, the two of them are free to carry on their lives separately as single individuals. However, obtaining a divorce decree does not necessarily mean the legal matters between the two divorced spouses are entirely put to rest.
It is always possible to revisit a family law order after major life events or significant changes in one’s lifestyle. For example, it is possible to file a post-judgment motion after obtaining a divorce decree to have child support increased or reduced or to petition the court for adjusted custody rights.
There is no real way to predict how any given divorce case will play out, and there are countless variables to consider in any such case. Ultimately, no matter how much uncertainty you are facing about your divorce, hiring legal representation is the best thing you can do to streamline the initial phases of your divorce proceedings. This process may be incredibly difficult, but the right Tulsa, OK divorce attorney can answer questions about your unique case and make a tremendous difference in the outcome of a complex divorce.