Family Law

Family law issues are one of the most emotional that a person may have to deal with. The Law Office of John S. Stratton, P.C. practices heavily in family law. Services provided include, but are not limited to: divorce, custody, pre-nuptial agreements, post-divorce decree modifications, child support modification, back child support and adoption.Often, family law issues will involve protective orders by one, or both, parties. Attorney Stratton will also represent your interests in protective order actions.

FAQ’s About Divorce, Custody and Child Support: 

  1. What different types of divorce are there in Oklahoma?

The divorce process can be very different depending on your individual situation. How long have you been married? Is it your first marriage? Do you have children together? Do you have significant assets or debts? Have you and your spouse agreed on custody, visitation and division of assets and debts? These questions, and more, will determine what the process will be for your divorce, how long it will take and what it will end up costing.

  1. We have agreed on custody, child support, visitation and how to divide our assets and debts. What is next? 

If this describes your situation then you will likely want to pursue what is called a “consent divorce” or “waiver divorce”. This is usually the fastest and least expensive kind of divorce. Your attorney will still need to draft the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, UCCJEA Affidavit, Joint Parenting Plan and Visitation Schedule, and Decree of Dissolution. However, you will likely not have to file a Motion for Temporary Order, have a Temporary Order Hearing or a divorce trial.

  1. I live in Texas, but we were married in Oklahoma and my spouse has sued me for divorce in Oklahoma. What happens now? 

It is not unusual for parties to have been separated for months or years before one party files for divorce. Sometimes on spouse has relocated to a different state and then their spouse has filed for divorce in Oklahoma. My office often represent clients that live in other states. The basic process is the same. Much of the communication between the attorney and out-of-state client can be done via telephone, email and regular mail. The out-of-state client will still have to come to Oklahoma for court appearances and possibly depositions.

  1. What about visitation, child support and temporary spousal support before the divorce is final?

Sometimes the couple is able to come to an agreement on some, or all of those issues. Otherwise most often there will be a Temporary Order Hearing. Among other things, the Temporary Order can address: custody, visitation, temporary child support, temporary spousal support, temporary attorney fees and temporary possession of things such as a home or cars.

  1. My ex-spouse owes back child support, what are my options?

Your options depend on many different factors. Is the Department of Human Services (DHS) involved (is your ex-spouse registered with DHS), what documentation do you have showing the payments you have recieved, what documentation does your ex-spouse have about payments they have made (or claim to have made), does your ex-spouse have some type of professional license, do you know the name and address of your ex-spouse’s employer? If DHS is a party to the action then DHS may instigate collections. It is often still beneficial in that situation to have an attorney represent your interests. Another option is to file a civil suit against your former spouse to try to collect the back child support (plus interest and attorney fees). Once the back child support has been reduced to judgment you will need to collect on the judgment. Collection can be attempted several different ways including income assignment and garnishment on their paychecks.

  1. What determines the original custody decision?

Oklahoma statutes provide that a court must consider the physical, mental and moral welfare of the child or children (43 O.S. § 109(A). However, there is not a lot of case law that tells us specifically what the court should consider. Among the factors that courts have considered include, but are not limited to:

  1. The preference of the parent or parents
  2. The ability and willingness each parent to encourage a close bond and frequent contact with the other parent.
  3. The childs community, schools, etc.
  4. The health (mental and physical) of each parent
  5. Any domestic abuse, harrassment or stalking by either parent.
  6. If either parent is a convicted sex offender.
  7. If placing the child with either parent would expose him to a foreseeable risk of material harm (43 O.S. §112.2(C).

There are also factors that the courts are not to take into account including the gender of the parent to whom custody is granted or if one of the parents plans to home school the child.