In Oklahoma, there is an alternative to divorce for married couples who either live separately, or desire to live separately, but do not want a divorce. In such a circumstance, an action for legal separation, also referred to as separate maintenance, can be filed and the court can enter certain orders as to child custody and visitation, child support, property division, debt division, and even support alimony or spousal support.
Whether it’s a religious belief that forbids someone from being divorced, or maybe it’s the need to remain on the other spouse’s health insurance, filing for legal separation in Oklahoma is the best way to ensure that one receives the financial support they need, that any children of the marriage are also supported, and guidelines are in place regarding who has custody and visitation.
A petition for legal separation in Oklahoma can be filed in the district courthouse of the county in which either party resides. There is no requirement for either party to have resided in Oklahoma for a certain amount of time prior to filing. As long as one party is currently living in Oklahoma, courts have jurisdiction to hear a legal separation.
When the petition for legal separation is filed, one must state whether or not there are any minor children born of the marriage. If there are children involved, the court can and will enter orders regarding custody, visitation, child support and medical care. If there is no agreement between the parties as to these issues affecting the children, the court will make a decision based on the “best interests of the children.”
In a legal separation where it appears that swift settlement is not possible, either party may apply to the court for temporary orders to remain in effect until a final decree of legal separation is entered. These temporary orders may include temporary child custody, visitation, support, spousal support, temporary division of property and debts, and even payment of temporary attorney fees.
The end result of an action for legal separation is, whether by way of settlement or a trial in front of the judge, a decree of legal separation. This decree is not the same as a decree of divorce or dissolution of marriage. Legal separation anticipates that the parties will either reconcile or eventually proceed with a divorce.
At The Crosthwait Law Firm, the team of family law attorneys have over 38 years of experience representing people in and around the Oklahoma City area during this difficult time in their lives. Our team of experienced, compassionate and reliable attorneys will assist you in deciding whether to file for legal separation or divorce, and to ensure that you understand the entire process, from beginning to end. Our attorneys expertly advise you and aggressively represent your rights in equitably dividing marital property and debts, establishing child custody, visitation and child support, and evaluating the need for, or exposure to, payment of spousal support or alimony. If you have questions, you may contact ushere.