What You Should Know When Searching for an Oklahoma Divorce Lawyer

If you have reached the end of your rope and wish to file for divorce in Oklahoma, you have likely begun the process of trying to find an attorney to represent you.  Perhaps you have searched the internet or have asked around the office for a referral.  When going through the process of looking for an attorney, keep in mind that there is no way to tell whether they are being truly honest about their abilities simply from reading their advertisements.  For instance, some attorneys may claim to be highly skilled, seasoned or experienced however, having only represented a few clients in family law matters certainly does not rise to this level.  Additionally, some attorneys claims to “guarantee results” yet in the law, there is no way to truly predict the outcome of a case.

In general, there are several important qualifications that an attorney should have when representing clients in Oklahoma domestic law proceedings.   These are as follows:

  1. Only work with a family law attorney who has the experience necessary to take your case.  A seasoned attorney that has had numerous years of family practice under his or her belt is preferable to one that has little to no experience.  Specifically, only a skilled attorney knows the ins and outs of the courtroom, how to handle opposing counsel, and can effectively tackle all of the challenging and highly contested aspects of your case.   While you may save more money with an attorney who isn’t seasoned in family law, you could end up sacrificing your rights as a result.
  2. Don’t get drawn in by fancy advertisements, promises that seem “too good to be true”, or aggressive marketing schemes.  Just because a lawyer spends a lot of money or time on marketing his or her services does not make them more qualified than others.   In fact, the ideal attorney is often one who relies upon his or her solid reputation in the community (i.e. via word of mouth) to obtain new clients.
  3. Only hire a lawyer that takes the time to explain your case in a manner that is clear, concise and easy to understand.  When a lawyer explains things in layman’s terms, it enables you to make informed decisions in your case.  If you meet with a lawyer who does not boil things down into terms that you can understand, it is likely best to take your business elsewhere.
  4. Do not work with an attorney that is cryptic about his or her fees.  Although it is not always possible for an attorney to tell you the exact cost of your case before it starts, you should know how much they charge (i.e., whether it be a flat fee or hourly billing arrangement).  Moreover, you should be advised upfront about all of the applicable court costs and other fees associated with your case.
  5. Always work with an attorney who is patient, compassionate and willing to address your concerns in a respectful manner. Every attorney has a different style of working with clients and that is why it is essential to find one that you can get along with and who can meet your needs.
  6. Check your attorney’s records.  Only work with an attorney who maintains a status of “good standing.”  This means that the attorney does not have any license suspensions or pending professional responsibility complaints. You can search the Oklahoma Bar Association’s website as well as the internet in general to obtain further information about your lawyer.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce in Oklahoma, or are facing any other type of family law matter, The Handley Law Center for a free and completely confidential consultation.  You can also contact us during normal business hours at 405-295-1924 to schedule an appointment.   When you meet with us, we will take the time necessary to examine the facts of your case, advise you of your rights and responsibilities as well as discuss all of your legal options.  Don’t wait to obtain the representation you deserve.   We look forward to helping you with all of your family law needs.

Tips on Protecting Your Finances During an Oklahoma Divorce

Unfortunately, the divorce process can be both emotionally and physically draining.  However, it can also present several financial challenges as well.  Specifically, financial problems are often at the root of why a couple is getting divorced.  And, when the divorce process gets underway, it can lead to even more tension and conflict, (especially during the equitable division of property phase in one’s case).  To illustrate, when a couple decides to split up and is managing two households on their pre-divorce income, it is not difficult to see why a divorce case can be financially devastating.  As such, if you believe that a divorce is on the horizon, consider the following tips to help you get your financial house in order before you and your spouse go your separate ways:

  • Separate your bank accounts.  Many people who decide to get divorced end up leaving their jointly held bank accounts open for fear of facing court action. However, a spiteful or financially irresponsible person may not be as courteous and decide to drain the account before you have a chance to do anything about it.  That is why I recommend for couples to establish separate bank accounts, even if it involves having to engage in an uncomfortable dialog.  Better to have an awkward conversation with a spouse and take this step then to wait and find that all of your funds have been drained.
  • Protect your existing credit.  If you and your spouse have jointly held credit cards or bank loans, it is best to establish separate lines of credit and close existing accounts.  The main reason behind this is because one spouse, at the expense of another, may wrack up credit card bills thinking that the other will be responsible for the debt after the marriage has been terminated.  Moreover, it is also important to monitor your jointly held credit accounts during the pendency of your divorce to make sure your spouse is not being irresponsible with them.
  • Obtain insurance if you are currently under your spouse’s plan.  If you shared insurance with your spouse and was specifically under his or her policy, then you may be left in the dark right after your divorce is completed.  Be proactive by establishing your own health insurance, auto and other important insurance plans.
  • Build and maintain funds and credit in your own name. Having your own credit and funds can give you a sense of empowerment and also, help protect you once your divorce is over.  Moreover, it can also help give you peace of mind that you are managing your own funds and not left to worry about a spouse taking some or all of the money and draining the account.
  • Become career-focused.  If you decided to take time off to raise your family, it is a perfect time to hone in on your job skills and sharpen them so that you are employable after your divorce.  While the idea of having to start all over again can certainly be daunting, it is important to take measures so that you can support yourself after your divorce.
  • Don’t forget about your taxes.  According to the IRS, the year you become divorced is the time when you must change your tax status back to single.  Also, if you have tax debt, most likely it will be considered marital.  Therefore, it is crucial to speak with an accountant or qualified financial planner to help you make sense of what you owe and how to move forward in this regard once your divorce is finalized.

If you have a divorce case underway, or are considering a divorce and would like to learn more about your legal options, contact The Handley Law Center today at 405-295-1924 to schedule your free, no obligation case review.  Our attorneys will take the time necessary to review the facts of your case and help you determine whether a divorce is right for you.  We look forward to providing you with top-tier legal representation!

Things to Consider When Getting Divorced in Oklahoma & Why an Attorney is Important

It goes without saying that getting a divorce can be both physically and emotionally taxing to all parties involved.  As a result, it is easy to make mistakes that can end up creating huge legal headaches and expose you to costly legal claims by your spouse.  For example, some people decide to represent themselves in order to save money, while others decide to engage in revengeful behavior towards a spouse, which can all create serious and permanent legal consequences.  As a result (and in addition to speaking with a qualified Oklahoma family law attorney, it is essential to consider the following advice – whether you are contemplating a divorce or have one underway, such as:

  1. No matter what, don’t represent yourself.  We have all heard of the old saying “those who represent themselves have a fool for a client.”  There is a reason why this saying exists.  Specifically, if you decide not to hire an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney, you can expose yourself to all sorts of claims, such as those for maintenance and child support.  You can also potentially lose out on property that you would otherwise be entitled to during the property division phase of your divorce case.  Had you hired an attorney, you would have been able to understand what your legal rights and obligations are in this regard and how to best protect yourself and your interests.
  2. Don’t respond to your spouse’s invitations for conflict.  Despite how tempting it may be to respond to your spouse’s nasty text messages or emails, it is critical to keep your cool and either a) not respond, or b) answer the communication in a positive and non-threatening matter.  In Oklahoma, your spouse can use text messages, emails or other electronically-drafted communications (that were made during the marriage) against you in court, which, among other things, could potentially lead to an inequitable distribution of property in your spouse’s favor.  Courts in Oklahoma are entitled to consider several factors in separating marital property – such as the conduct of the parties during the marriage – and in order to preserve your rights to same, it is crucial to keep yourself out of conflict with your spouse and remain civil, despite how hard it may be.
  3. Keep your kids out of the conflict.  There is nothing worse than dealing with a custody battle between warring spouses that have dragged their children into the middle of the conflict.  This does nothing but create hostility, resentment and potentially serious and irreversible relationship issues with both your spouse and children moving forward.  While divorce legally ends your marriage, it does not entitle you to avoid your spouse in the future, especially when children are involved.  You must remember that once your divorce is finalized, you will still have to deal with your former spouse in coordinating visitation schedules and also, in making critical decisions involving your children’s educational, medical and other important needs.
  4. Remain informed and always be prepared.  It is always important to listen to what your attorney advises you and also, to review all paperwork that you receive from your attorney and the court.  Specifically, being prepared for court hearings and other matters is crucial to your case and often has a positive effect on its outcome. Also, when you meet with your attorney for the first time, be sure to have the following in hand (this list is not exhaustive, of course):  i) your marital tax returns from the prior three years; ii) you and your spouse’s wage/income information; iii) a list of your separate and marital property; iv) a list of all of your debts and corresponding amounts; and v) a list of all of your personal and marital expenses.
  5. Always consult with your Oklahoma divorce attorney first.  Regardless of how tempting it may be to empty funds from a bank account or to transfer property to family members before your divorce is finalized, ask your attorney first before doing so. While these actions may be innocently intended, they can be considered by the court as illegally trying to hide or covet marital assets – which could leave you without your fair share of property during the “equitable” division phase of your case.

If you wish to learn more about your legal options contact The Handley Law Center for a free and completely confidential consultation.  You can also contact us during normal business hours at 405-295-1924 to schedule an appointment.   When you meet with us, we will review the facts of your case, discuss with you the scope of your rights and responsibilities, and help you determine whether a divorce is right for you.  Don’t wait to obtain the representation you deserve.   Call us now to get started!

Ways to Avoid Badmouthing Your Spouse during an Oklahoma Divorce & Why it Matters

The title of this blog perhaps is making you wonder why an attorney is seemingly offering advice of a seemingly “therapeutic” or “esoteric” nature.   While we are certainly not here to serve as psychologists in any capacity whatsoever, our job as Oklahoma family law attorneys is to counsel you as to the things you should and shouldn’t do during your divorce case that can greatly influence its outcome – whether in a positive or negative fashion.  When it comes to badmouthing, keep in mind that it is one of the worst things you can do in your case. Not only does it fuel your anger as well as potentially hurt those around you (mainly your children), it can also have serious legal consequences if ultimately brought to your presiding judge’s attention.  That is why we have come up with a list of ways in which to help our clients avoid the temptation of letting their ex’s “have it”, so to speak.  These helpful are as follows:

  1. Remember that your kids are half yours and half your ex’s.  Meaning, the best way to think about it is this: if you insult your former spouse, you are in a way, insulting your children.  As such, if you can consider things in this way, quite possibly it would help you avoid hurling insults and unnecessary epithets in your ex’s direction.  You certainly would never want to hurt your children, so why engage in this behavior with your ex? It isn’t worth it.  I promise you.
  2. Keep your emotions in check.  No matter how much your ex pushes your buttons, don’t allow him or her to have that power over you.  Remain calm, cool and collected, regardless of what your ex is saying or doing.  The best thing you can do, and also for the judge to know in your case, is that you have the ability to think clearly and remain level-headed, despite how difficult your situation may be.  Moreover, it certainly makes you look better when you can stay calm, even when your former spouse is being a bear to deal with.
  3. Badmouthing also hurts you.  I am sure you have heard the old proverb, “he who seeks revenge digs two graves”.   If you find out that your ex is badmouthing you, fighting fire with fire is not always the best approach.  Not only can it make you look bad, it can also fuel your anger, resentment and other negative emotions, potentially causing you to act on emotion and make serious legal mistakes in your case.  That is why avoiding taking the bait and engaging in civility with your ex is highly important.
  4. Love yourself and your kids enough to keep the conflicts at bay.  Don’t engage with your ex if they are trying to make your life difficult.  Also, avoid being sucked into arguments with them, as this only makes this worse, especially for your children.  They have enough to deal with – and any contention between you and your ex will do nothing but add to their anxiety and frustrations about your divorce.
  5. Ask your attorney what he or she thinks before acting.  Never put anything in writing (whether on paper or electronically) that can be used against you later on.  As such, be sure to speak with your attorney first before taking any actions, whether it be verbal or written.

If you are considering a divorce in Oklahoma, or are dealing with some other type of family law matter, The Handley Law Center for a free and completely confidential consultation.  You can also contact us during normal business hours at 405-295-1924 to schedule an appointment.   When you meet with us, we will take the time necessary to advise you of your rights and responsibilities as well as discuss all of your legal options.  Don’t wait to obtain the representation you deserve.   Call us now to get your case started!