Family Law Definitions
Statement of the facts that are presented to the court. They are often signed by a notary.
Verbal or written resolution of divorce, child custody, alimony, property division, or other disputed issue.
Alimony is a payment of spousal support provided by one spouse to another
The legal process of declaring a marriage null and void. As if it never happened
A written response submitted to the court either affirming or denying any allegations made by a petitioner in their original filing.
Legal action following divorce or custody trial where party requests review of the decision or an issue by a higher court.
The amount of financial support determined by the court or administrative process that was due and has not been paid.
The process of determining legal rights of parents over a minor child in divorce proceedings.
Payments made by one parent to another for the continued support of a minor child.
Each state, including Oklahoma, has child support guidelines or a Formula that help determine what amount of child support that will be awarded for the support of minor children. In a limited number of circumstances, including high-income divorce or high-income child custody cases, the divorce court can award child support beyond the guideline range.
A court form designed to calculate the child support guidelines based on criteria such as one parent’s wages compared to the other parent’s wages.
When two unmarried people live together. Usually while dating.
The process of mediating a divorce agreement with the help of a lawyer, rather than court intervention.
A fraudulent agreement between two or more parties where one party brings false charges against the other. Although Oklahoma is a no-fault divorce state, sometimes parties will wrongly collude in asserting a basis for a divorce or other family court order.
The Petitioner or Complainant is the party filing the divorce or custody case.
A common law marriage exists when a man and woman, free to marry, agree to live together as husband and wife without formal ceremony. Both spouses must have intended to be husband and wife and carried themselves to the public as such for a common law marriage in Oklahoma to be valid.
A divorce defense, which is based on an accuser’s previous forgiveness for the legal claim made against a party. Often the continued living with a spouse or cohabitation after learning of wrongdoing.
A party’s intentional failure to comply with any lawful court order. Typically, these actions are initiated by one party alleging a violation of a court order by the other party to a divorce.
A witness in a divorce or custody action that testifies support of the claims or allegations made by one party to the divorce.
A list of reasons for a divorce made by the Respondent.
The main parent a child lives with a majority of the time and makes the most of decisions for that child.
The legal arrangement for whom a child or children will live with after a divorce or child custody matter. Additionally, it determines who will exercise decision-making authority for issues in the child’s life.
Legal custody is the decision-making aspect of child custody, including, but not limited to the following:
- Schools which the children shall attend;
- Summer camps and church schools and/or classes which the children shall attend;
- Fashion and manner in which the children shall be disciplined;
- Religious instruction;
- Medical, dental, orthodontic, and optical care and psychotherapy and counseling;
- Organized recreational and extracurricular activities; and
- Sports activities and extracurricular activities;
Physical custody, like it sounds, refers to whom the children will live with after a divorce or child custody case. Generally, the parent that does not have primary physical custody will have visitation, including some or multiple overnight visits each month. Parents can reach almost any arrangement concerning child custody for the benefit and “best interest of the child.”
A court order made in favor of the Petitioner based on the Respondent’s failure to appear in court or respond to service, a compliant, or divorce petition.
The Respondent or person that the case is brought against.
A process where one party is asked questions under oath by the other party or the other party’s counsel in a divorce or child custody case. The questions and answers are taken down by a court-reporter and can be used against the party in the divorce proceeding or divorce trial.
The procedures and processes of gathering relevant information for a case.
A Court order recognizing two parties as no longer married and returning them to single status. The legal title for a divorce.
An emergency order issued by the court for the benefit of one party based on the actions of the opposing party.
A professional in a field who can testify to the practices and procedures of their job or people in the field.
Used to enforce a previous court order for issues regarding the family after one party has refused to comply. Used if one party refuses to follow a court ordered visitation schedule.
Document or pleadings provided to the Court Clerk, Judge, and other Respondent setting forth the Petitioner’s position in the divorce or child custody action.
The deduction of a person’s wages to pay a court ordered expense, such as garnishing a parent’s wages for failure to pay child support.
A trained social worker, attorney, counselor, or other professional used to represent the non-legal or personal interests of a child in a divorce proceeding.
The legal basis for a divorce. Oklahoma is a no-fault state, meaning neither party must demonstrate fault in the divorce; however, ground for divorce must be shown to the court. Incompatibility and irreconcilable differences are typically alleged.
A court proceeding where witnesses present testimony and each side presents their arguments
A court order that prevents a party from continuing a certain act.
A series of questions presented to an opposing party to answer as party of the discovery process. Interrogatories must be answered under oath and 30 Interrogatories are allowed to each party without the Court granting additional requests.
Court order in a divorce or child custody case.
The court’s legal authority over the subject matter (property and assets) and the parties, including minor children, in a case.
A set of guidelines established by a court to describe how two married people may interact with one another. Does not carry the same weight as a divorce, the parties are still legally married.
Also known as alimony, this is a payment made from one spouse to another to help a spouse maintain standards of living. Often from a husband to a stay-at-home mom.
All property and assets acquired during the marriage, even property titled in only one party’s name.
A process where both parties agree to reach a settlement with the help of a neutral, third-party rather than having the court intervene.
A provision in child custody agreements and divorce settlements that prohibit a parent from doing certain acts around children such as having overnight guests the child is in a parent’s care.
A request by one or both parties in the divorce action for the Court to grant some type of relief or to take a certain action
A request to the court for changes to be made to an existing court order such as altering visitation rights or making changes to child-support payments.
A divorce where neither party is the cause for the request of dissolving the marriage.
Notice regarding a preliminary, temporary, or other hearing that may involve child custody, support, or maintenance/alimony. A description of when to show up to court and why.
A court’s decision or command on a party’s request to the court.
Used to determine which parent will have a child on which days of the week or month.
The first document filed with the court stating the Petitioner’s specific grievances against the opposing party and what they are requesting in the divorce, child custody, or paternity action or modification.
erson initiating a lawsuit in family law case or divorce action. Also known as a “plaintiff.”
The time that each parent is allowed to physically be with a child. Parents have sole or joint custody over a child.
The Petitioner or party bringing the family law case or divorce action.
A pre-marital contract dividing up financial rights in the event of divorce. Prenuptial agreements are a tool by a family or party to protect assets or interests in the case of divorce. Oklahoma family law judges have wide latitude in enforcing prenuptial agreements.
When a spouse represents themselves in a divorce action without an attorney.
A person with the power to deliver summons to a party, the Respondent. Upon proof of proper service by a process server or return of a summons; the Petitioner/Plaintiff may seek a default judgment/court order to finalize the case without a response by the other party, if they fail to answer in the prescribed time.
An order by the court in cases of domestic violence that the abusing party must refrain from certain behavior or be punished by the court.
A special court order used in divorce or legal separation to split a retirement or pension plan by recognizing joint marital ownership interests in the plan.
An accusation by one party made in response to an accusation from the other.
Request for Admission
Part of the discovery process in a divorce where ann attorney requests the other party admit facts relevant to the case. Each party is entitled to 30 Requests for Admission without leave of Court for additional requests. The responding party must answer under oath.
Part of the discovery process where an attorney requests documents from the opposing counsel that are relevant to a case. Each party is entitled to 30 Requests for Production without leave of Court for additional requests. The responding party must provide the documents and swear to their completeness.
A requirement that a party must live in their state of domicile for a set amount of time before being considered a resident. Often required before a party may file for divorce in the state. A party must live in Oklahoma for six months prior to filing for divorce in Oklahoma.
Also known as “defendant.” The party who must respond to a petition filed against them.
A provision placed in child custody agreements requiring one parent to offer the other parent the opportunity to look after their children before contacting a babysitter or other family member to take care of them.
A form issues by the Court, generally at the direction of one family law attorney in the case, requiring a party to appear in court and/or bring documents.
A document issued by a court that requires a third-party to turn over documents requested by a party to the case.
A document served on the Respondent that an action has been filed against him or her that will require a response.
A court order issued while a divorce is pending.
A formal court hearing to decide disputes in a divorce.
Both parties to the divorce action agree on child custody, property division, support alimony, debt division, decision-making authority, and all other issues. When the parties do not contest any aspect of the divorce; one attorney can prepare all the pleadings and the Court will enter the appropriate orders.
The right of a parent to visit their children despite not having custody over that child. Often supervised.
A court order allowing the seizure of a parent’s assets for that parents failure to pay child-support previously ordered by the court.
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