Oklahoma Divorce Attorneys Answer Questions about Common-Law Marriages

When a couple decides to marry, there are usually a series of steps the couple must take for the marriage to be official. Typically, this involves obtaining a marriage license, taking part in a marriage ceremony, and then filing the marriage certificate with the court. This is the “traditional” way the majority of marriages come to be in Oklahoma and across the country as a whole. However, in Oklahoma there are actually two ways a couple can become married. Oklahoma is one of a handful of states that recognizes “common-law” marriages. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions that people have about common-law marriages in Oklahoma:

What are the requirements to have a common-law marriage in Oklahoma?

Under Oklahoma law, to demonstrate the existence of a common law marriage, a person needs to be able to prove the following five elements:

1)      Actual and mutual agreement between the parties to be a married couple;

  • 2)      A permanent relationship;
  • 3)      An exclusive relationship;
  • 4)      Parties hold themselves out publically as a married couple; and
  • 5)      (in some jurisdictions) the parties co-habitate as a married couple.

How can I prove that I have a valid common-law marriage?

Unlike traditional marriages, common-law marriages must be proven. The following evidence can be used to prove the existence of a common-law marriage:

  • Use of the same surname;
  • Health insurance showing the existence of a spouse;
  • Filing joint tax returns;
  • Existence of wedding ring(s);
  • Joint ownership of real property, bank accounts, etc.;
  • Wills, retirement/bank accounts, and/or life insurance policies that list the other spouse as the beneficiary; and
  • Testimony of friends/family members regarding marital status.

If I have a common-law marriage, do I end my marriage through a common-law divorce?

No. In Oklahoma, the only way to end a common-law or traditional marriage is by filing for and having a judge grant a divorce in a court of law.

Are common-law couples entitled to the same things in a divorce as traditionally married couples?

Yes. When a person with a valid common-law marriage files for divorce, he or she is entitled to the same things as if he or she had a traditional marriage. Unlike a couple just living together, when a married couple chooses to end their relationship, each party is entitled to an equitable shares of the assets (and debt) and possibly alimony.

If I have a common-law marriage, can I re-marry (traditionally or common-law) without being granted a divorce first?

No. In Oklahoma a common-law marriage is the same as a traditional marriage. To remarry, a person cannot be married. To remarry without first obtaining a valid divorce would be considered bigamy and would invalidate the second marriage. Not to mention, bigamy is against the law. If you have questions as to whether you have a valid common-law marriage or not, you will want to speak with an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney prior to tying the knot (again).

If you have a common-law marriage and are considering divorcing, it is best that you speak to a seasoned Oklahoma Divorce Attorney as soon as possible. Qualified Oklahoma Divorce Attorneys can help you determine what steps are necessary to prove your marriage, especially if your spouse does not agree that you are married. He or she will work with you throughout every step of the divorce process and make sure that your rights are protected. At The Handley Law Center, our team of dedicated professionals have represented countless divorce clients in both Canadian County and around Oklahoma. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation, contact The Handley Law Center today at (405) 295-1924. At The Handley Law Center we take pride in providing divorce client with top-notch legal services.

Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyers Discuss: Are Hands-Free Devices Making Our Oklahoma Roadways Safer?

Hands-free devices are not only super trendy with the young and on the go crowd, they have also become quite popular with lawmakers across the country. Hands-free devices make it possible for a cell phone user to make and receive phone calls without holding their cellular device in their hands. For lawmakers, this appears to be a happy compromise for their constituents who cannot seem to part with their cellular devices when behind the wheel, despite the many known dangers. Automakers are also hopping on board with hands-free devices being built right into the dashboards of newer model cars, trucks and minivans. Some of these smart devices even allow a driver to change the radio station or call for help without ever pushing a button.

The thought behind these hands-free or smart devices is that if a driver’s can keep both hands on the wheel and both of their eyes on the road, America’s roadways will become much safer. It is estimated that nearly 100 people die every day in car crashes across the country, making car crashes the number one cause of unintentional deaths in the U.S. Up to 90% percent of these crashes are caused by driver error. However, despite their widespread usage and support, there has been little data that shows that these so called ‘smart’ devices really do anything to prevent accidents. In fact, new studies are actually showing the contrary.

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of automobile crashes in the U.S. A distracted motorist is a person who is not fully engaged on the task of driving. A motorist who is distracted can have his or her eyes looking somewhere other than the road, hands not on the steering wheel and/or mind not focused on the task of driving. The studies have shown that the problem with hands-free devices, is that a driver’s phone conversation still take his or her mind off the task of driving. Studies have shown that more than one quarter of crashes involved a driver using his or her cell phone—including hands-free.

The National Safety Council (NSC) is trying to educate cell phone users that hands-free devices are not risk free. The NSC has found that:

  • Motorists looking out their windshield, who are talking on the phone can missing seeing up to 50% of what is around them, even if using a hands-free device.
  • Technology that allows motorists to use voice-to-text is actually more distracting than motorists who type text messages by hand.
  • The activity area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by close to 33% when a person is talking on the phone.

The NCS is encouraging all motorists to not talk on the phone, whether hands-free or not, while they are driving.

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an automobile accident caused by a distracted driver, you need to speak with an experienced Oklahoma Injury Attorney as soon as possible. Only veteran Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyers can provide you with the compassionate representation you need at this very difficult time. The Injury Attorneys at The Handley Law Center understand the devastating effects that an automobile accident can have on a victim and his or her family. At The Handley Law Center our experienced team of attorneys are prepared to do whatever is necessary to obtain the compensation you deserve. We will use our unparalleled knowledge of the law and savvy courtroom skills to obtain justice for you. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation with one of our attorneys, contact The Handley Law Center at (405) 295-1924 today.

Oklahoma DUI Defense Lawyers Discuss What NOT to Do After a DUI Arrest in Oklahoma

Once you are arrested for DUI you may find yourself in unfamiliar waters. Just as important as what to do when find yourself in this situation, is what not to do. Certain mistakes made after a DUI arrest can truly jeopardize your chances of beating the charges. If you are arrested for DUI in Oklahoma, here at the top four things not to do:

  • Wait too long to hire an attorney.  Being arrested for DUI for the first time can be quite an experience. If this is all your first encounter with the criminal justice system, you may have no clue what to do first. The mistake many people make is to do nothing for too long. After being arrested the most important thing to do is to speak with an experienced Oklahoma DUI defense attorney. He or she will be able to make sure that your rights are protected and that you have the best possible chance at beating the charges against you.
  • Hire the wrong attorney.  Just as bad as waiting too long to hire an attorney, is hiring the wrong attorney. It sounds simple enough, but a DUI offense requires a DUI defense attorney. Do not hire an attorney just because he or she did a great job handling your divorce or is a friend of the family. If the attorney does not focus a significant portion of his or her practice on DUI defense, then he or she is not the attorney you need.
  • Operate a motor vehicle without a valid license.  Under Oklahoma law, once you are arrested for DUI your driver’s license will automatically be suspended 30 days after the date of your arrest. The good news is that you have 15 days from the date of your arrest date to appeal the suspension. (This is another reason why you do not want to delay hiring an attorney.) However, too often men and women arrested for DUI fail to realize that they do not have a valid license or disregard the suspension and drive anyways. You will not help your DUI case if you are arrested for driving without a valid license, so leave the driving to someone else.
  • Be a ‘no-show’ for a scheduled court date.  Even if you hire an attorney, there will be court dates where you will have to appear along with your attorney. It is vitally important that you appear in court on these dates. Failing to appear in court can and most likely will result in the court issuing a warrant for your arrest. Again, having a warrant out for your arrest is not a good way to show a judge that you are taking your case or the judge’s orders seriously. To avoid this mistake, make sure you arrive on-time for all court appearance by giving yourself plenty of time to make it to court. Not having a ride or not having a valid driver’s license is no excuse for missing or being late to a court date.

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, you need to act quickly. The first thing you need to is to schedule an appointment to meet with an experienced Oklahoma DUI Defense Attorney. Only skilled Oklahoma DUI Defense Lawyers can properly advise you of your rights.  He or she will also be able to review your case and determine what defenses you may have against the charges. At The Handley Law Center, our seasoned team of Oklahoma DUI Defense attorneys can provide you with the aggressive representation you need to beat a DUI charge.  To schedule a free consultation, contact our offices today at (405) 295-1924.

The Five ‘Golden Rules’ to Follow in Order to Have the Best Divorce Possible

It is difficult to one wake up one morning and realize that you can no longer remain married to your spouse. The decision to end a marriage is never easy and often only made after a lot of soul-searching and tears. While divorce can be ugly and nasty, it does not have to be. There are things each and every person can do to make the divorce process easier and a little less painful. The following are some ‘Golden Rules’ to keep in mind before you file so that you can have the best divorce possible:

  • Hire a knowledgeable and reputable divorce attorney and heed his or her advice. While this may sound fairly straight-forward and logical, it is far from easy. Throughout the divorce process you will hear lots of advice from a wide range of people. Most of this so-called advice is not worth a dime. The most important thing to remember is to pay attention to the advice that you are paying good money to hear and that comes from a person who is knowledgeable in divorce—your attorney.
  • Keep your expectations realistic. A good divorce attorney is there to guide you throughout the divorce process. He or she will listen to your wants, needs and concerns and help you understand what outcomes are likely. It is important to keep in mind from the beginning that there is no true “winner” or “loser” in a divorce case. In other words, be prepared that you will most likely not walk away from the divorce with everything you wanted, nor will spouse.
  • Take care of yourself: Divorce can be all encompassing at times. It is important to take care of your emotional needs. Try to keep in mind that divorce does not make you a bad person or parent. If you are having trouble dealing with everything that comes with ending a marriage, it is important to seek help. Talk to a counselor or therapist or find a support group for divorcing individuals. If you are taking proper care of yourself, you will have a much easier time handling the stress that comes with a divorce.
  • Do not let your emotions get the best of you. A divorce is a time in a person’s life when emotions may be running very high. Even if you have a good deal of dislike or even hatred for your spouse, it will do you no good to act on those feelings during the proceedings. Try to keep in mind that you chose to marry this individual. You may also have chosen him or her to be the parent of your children. While things may have changed since you initially made those decisions, the decisions were made. Taking the high road whenever possible, will not only help you get through the divorce more easily but you will feel much better afterward about the way you handled yourself.
  • Keep your child/ren’s needs paramount. If you can keep your children’s needs at the forefront throughout the divorce, you will be a better parent and person for it. Divorce can be very difficult on children. While you may be okay with the notion of never seeing your spouse again, he or she is probably a very important person to your children. Never discuss the divorce or speak ill of your spouse in front of your children. You should also try to make time to listen to your children’s concerns and fears about the divorce process. This is a time of great change and they may need to be reminded that they are not the cause of the divorce and that both you and your spouse will continue to love them just the same as before the divorce.

Unfortunately, the divorce process can be quite stressful. That is why it is important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the process. At The Handley Law Center we have provided quality legal representation to both men and women filing for divorce. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation with one of our compassionate family law attorneys, contact The Handley Law Center today at (405) 295-1924. Our Oklahoma Family Law Attorneys will take the time to make sure you understand your rights and that your case is handled professionally and efficiently.