Family law encompasses a wide range of family matters like marriage, divorce, child support, etc. And while these laws may vary according to state, there are a few common principles and guidelines pertaining to family issues. Family law in Oklahoma covers many family-related issues like division of property, the types of marriages that are prohibited, adoption laws, etc. These family problems can be very distressing and need to be handled by expert family lawyers. Some criminal issues involving family law like child abuse or domestic abuse also need to be handled by skilled professionals. However, few people seek out a family lawyer until the discord between the family members is at its worst. But not all family matters are distressing. Happy occasions like adoption or guardianship also involve family laws. Let us look at some reasons why you would need to hire a family lawyer.
In the United States, the regulation of marriage is largely a state issue. The state marriage laws determine the age limits for getting married, the grounds for annulment, marriages that are prohibited under the law and other matters related to marriages. Oklahoma marriage laws require couples to obtain a valid marriage license before tying the knot. According to the age restrictions for marriage in Oklahoma, parental consent is a must for minors of 16 or 17. However, 18 years or older are considered adults and may marry without parental consent.
In Oklahoma, married spouses can petition the court for a legal dissolution of their marriage. The state divorce laws then determine if there are grounds for divorce. The grounds for divorce can be “No Fault” in which neither party can claim that the other was at fault. It can also be other factors like adultery, cruelty/violence, abandonment/desertion, impotency, alcohol addiction, etc. The couple must fulfill the residency requirements and waiting periods. This means that at least one of the spouses must have been a state resident for at least six months. Child custody and visitation for children are also decided by the court as part of the divorce settlements.
Child support law is based upon the concept that children are entitled to the support of both parents. These laws help to ensure that children receive sufficient financial support. Generally the parent with physical custody receives child support from the other party. The amount of child support is decided by the okdhs child support services based on the calculation guidelines provided by the court. However, if any parent has a valid change of circumstances or financial situation, they can request for a modification of the child support.
Child Custody / Visitation
A parent has certain rights and responsibilities towards the child including the right to seek custody of the child, have visitation, etc. In Oklahoma, child custody arrangements include visitation rights and are based on the best interests of the child. Many factors like the wishes of each parent and the child, child’s relationship with grandparents, siblings, school religious institution, mental and physical health of all parties, and which parent is most involved in the life of the child. A parent wishing to get custody can file a case in court for custody rights.
Adoption is a legal process that allows a family to permanently accept a child as their own legally. Welcoming a new child into a family is a happy occasion. However, for most people adoption can be a lengthy and confusing process. In Oklahoma, there are three types of adoption – related, unrelated, and adult adoption. A single adult or a married couple, above the age of 21, is eligible to adopt. Also, if the child is 12 years or older, his/her consent is necessary. Adoption terminates the right of one or both biological parents.
Guardianship is the legal proceeding where the court appoints someone to take care of another person and/or their property. Guardianship is often assigned for children/minors, incapacitated persons, and adults who cannot make decisions for themselves. A guardian can take decisions like consent for medical treatment, arranging for education, managing finances, managing purchase of basic necessities, household and other personal items, etc. In Oklahoma, guardianship is of three types – general, limited, and special. A court can remove a guardian if it finds that he/she is not doing their duties properly.
Paternity is legally identifying a person as the child’s father. In many family law cases of child support, child custody, etc. establishing paternity becomes important. Often, a paternity test is done to check paternity in case of the father refusing to accept the child. If the test is negative the case is dismissed and if it’s positive, the court will declare the individual as the legal father. The court can then ask the father to pay for the paternity test and also pay the child support to the mother. Establishing paternity allows the father to seek custodial rights, pay child support and take part in important decisions for the child’s welfare.
Other Family Issues
Apart from the above mentioned familial issues, there are also many other family matters that can require the hiring of an experienced and skilled family lawyer. These matters include child abuse, surrogacy and artificial conception, foster care, domestic violence, emancipation of minors, reproductive rights, domestic partnerships, division of property and alimony etc. Family law also includes civil procedures and legal matters involving the financial responsibilities and other legal obligations of the family members. While most of these are personal matters, some of these matters are governed by state and federal family laws.
While some family law matters can be handles without counsel, there are other matters like divorce and child custody that include a lot of confusing and lengthy legal procedures. The expertise of a skilled family lawyer can guide you through the process without much hassle. It is best to let a skilled family law practitioner handle such issues to reduce confrontation and discord among involved parties during the legal process.