Property Division in Oklahoma Divorce Cases
CANNON & ASSOCIATES is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for those facing Dissolution of Marriage, commonly referred to as ‘Divorce”; Child Custody, and Child Support issues in state courts in central Oklahoma. It is crucial you contact an experienced Oklahoma Family Law Attorney, if you are facing Divorce or any contested family law matter. You need a Fierce Advocate to defend your rights and your property, if you are facing a contested Oklahoma Divorce. This page is an overview of the most common issues our firm’s potential family law and divorce clients are facing or concerned with regarding their property when they contact CANNON & ASSOCIATES.
Definition of Property
The legal term “Property” does not simply refer to land in Oklahoma family law. Rather, the term “Property” includes many types of assets: real estate, cars, boats, firearms, furniture, jewelry, bank accounts, retirement accounts, business interests, and in most things a person can have an “ownership interest”.
Oklahoma is an Equitable Distribution State
Oklahoma is an “Equitable Distribution” state because family law judges and courts divide marital property between spouses in a just and reasonable way. “Marital property” is different than “Separate property”. Unlike marital property, separate property are assets acquired prior to or after the marriage that remains yours after a divorce and is not subject to division by a judge. The main distinction between marital property and separate property is marital property was accumulated during the marriage as part of or a fruit of the marriage. A spouse can acquire separate property during marriage.
Property received as a “Gift” is considered separate property, if the gift is only to one spouse. However, if the gift is made to the couple it is marital property. Property received as an inheritance is separate property. When one spouse conveys part of the property to the other spouse it becomes marital property. Courts may consider property obtained in exchange for or from the proceeds of separate property as separate property as well. Basically, if acquisition of a specific item of property is unrelated to the marriage it may be considered separate property.
Oklahoma Family trial judges have wide discretion in determining division of property as separate property or marital property in Oklahoma divorce proceedings. The only statutory guidance is the division be “just and reasonable.” It is important to note Oklahoma family courts have held “just and reasonable” does not mean equal.
Factors Used to Determine Just and Reasonable Division of Property
Oklahoma family trial judge can consider the efforts of the respective parties during the marriage in Oklahoma divorce proceedings; however, Oklahoma family trial judges may not consider the relative marital fault of the parties. In other words, Oklahoma cases have held where one spouse has received or taken marital property, this must be credited to the other spouse before the remainder of the marital estate is divided. The fact one spouse earns more than the other does not justify an unequal distribution of the marital estate. In other words, a working-spouse is not entitled to a greater portion of the marital estate than the stay-at-home spouse, because both contributed, presumptively, equally to preserving the marital union.
In order to complete an equitable division of the marital estate, an Oklahoma family judge must consider not only those assets accumulated during the marriage, but also the debts of each spouse. After subtracting debts from assets, sometimes there are only one or two items of property left to divide. When neither spouse can afford to pay property division alimony in order to divide the asset’s value, the trial court can order that the asset be sold. The money from the sale can then be divided.
Severance of Jointly Help Property or Title
When parties own property jointly, Oklahoma family law judges are tasked with dividing the property by vesting title to the property in one of the spouses. By vesting title to the property in one of the spouse, the court aims to ensure that the spouse can use and enjoy their property. To do this justly, the court will typically award the entire property to one spouse and award property of similar value or alimony to the other spouse.
However, the policy behind the “Severance of Common Title” rule does not require the division be made so that one spouse is completely free of the other. Instead, a judge can award the property to one spouse and give the other a lien on the property to secure that spouse’s share of the value of the property. If parties agree the common title is not to be divided, they will own the property as tenants in common. Basically, Oklahoma family law judges will divide ownership of all property, unless the parties agree otherwise.
Modification is typically barred
The property division component of a divorce decree is a final judgment that cannot be modified. Except in cases of fraud, the decree bars a claim by either party to the property of the other spouse. The property division portion of the divorce decree survives death and is binding on both spouses’ estates.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”)
In Oklahoma, retirement benefits can be allocated to a spouse during a divorce by means of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or “QDRO”. Retirement accounts are often the most valuable asset in a marriage. The distribution of retirement benefits is very important because it can have financial impacts on both spouses.
A QDRO, pronounced “Quadro,” is a Family Law Court Order used in divorce cases to give a portion of a party’s retirement benefit to a requesting spouse. As part of the divorce settlement, the Family Law Court Order instructs a retirement plan administrator to give a certain portion of the beneficiary’s retirement benefits to his or her spouse. The order divides retirement benefits so the parties do not have to worry about making payments to the other spouse for the rest of their life.
When Do You Need a QDRO, Qualified Domestic Relations Order
A QDRO is necessary if you or your spouse have assets in a retirement plan and you are separating from your spouse, in the process of a divorce, or already divorced. The law in Oklahoma dictates that retirement benefits earned during a marriage should be treated as marital property that is subject to division between the parties upon divorce or legal separation. Once a QDRO is entered, you are legally entitled to your portion of retirement assets in your spouse’s retirement plan.
Executing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order in Oklahoma
A spouse may request an Oklahoma Family Court issue a QDRO to assist him or her in paying alimony and/or child support. In addition, a QDRO is appropriate as a tool used to divide assets as set forth by a settlement agreement.
Since Oklahoma is an Equitable Distribution State, the family law judge’s determination of how to equitably divide assets is subjective, meaning the judge has wide discretion. The general rule prohibits assigning retirement benefits during the beneficiary’s lifetime, however, Oklahoma Family Law allows an exception to this rule by use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. In Oklahoma family law, a spouse must do more than mention, reference, the retirement accounts in a divorce decree. Instead, for a spouse to become legally entitled to all or a portion of retirement benefits, a QDRO must be filed in addition to and separate from the Divorce Decree.
Tax Implications of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order
QDRO’s are particularly complex due to the tax implications of such a family law court order. A spouse must pay taxes immediately if they receive retirement benefits outright or if they deposit the money into a bank account. However, if the assets are deposited into a separate retirement account, taxes are not due until the money is withdrawn, years later.
Who is Eligible for a Qualified Domestic Relations Order
A QDRO is defined in the Internal Revenue Code by the IRS and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act “ERISA”. QDROs apply to those retirement plans covered by the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA, unless specifically excluded. Importantly, among those plans that are excluded from ERISA are governmental retirement plans. Thus, the retirement plans of state and municipal employees, federal employees, teachers and police officers do not include a QDRO to be used to divide the retirement plans between spouses during a legal separation or a divorce in Oklahoma. However, Oklahoma has passed laws allowing these plans to be divided in a way that mirrors a QDRO, even though they have different names.
Additionally, every retirement plan has its own set of rules. For example, some plans offer survivor benefits while other do not. Some plans allow a spouse to collect a lump sum distribution upon retirement or to choose an annuity payment for a fixed term or life, while other plans only allow one course of action. The complexity of retirement in the United States and property division in Oklahoma divorce cases requires hiring an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney.
Family law consists of many specific areas of law: Divorce; Paternity; Child Custody; Child Support; Spousal Support; and many more. Each of these areas have specific procedures and laws, which dictate the proceedings and affect the outcome of your Divorce, Child Custody case, or other Family Law matter. It is my hope this page has answered some of your questions regarding property division in divorce in Oklahoma, if not please contact CANNON & ASSOCIATES.
Experience matters when your rights and property are on the line. It is important to know the attorney you hire is the attorney handling your case and experienced in family law. John Cannon, owner of CANNON & ASSOCIATES, PLLC, will personally represent you, work along-side you during the entire process, and keep you informed. John has the experience you need and will bring it to bear in your case. Additionally, he has an outstanding record of reaching the best possible outcome for hundreds of clients, evidenced by receiving the highest possible AVVO rating – 10 (superb). Contact CANNON & ASSOCIATES to protect your rights and Fight your Case. You may send an email inquiry, complete the contact form on our website, or call at (405) 657-2323 for a free confidential consultation.
Our Client Reviews
"John has shown nothing but compassion and professional guidance in my case. He truly cares about his clients and is exceptionally understanding when it comes to any case he is representing. He communicates genuinely as well as in a timely matter. If I were able to give his firm any more than 5 stars, I most definitely would. He is incredible."
"John Cannon is an awesome attorney. He is very professional and honest. He really cares about his clients. John always gets back to you quickly to answer any questions you have regarding your case. I highly recommend CANNON & ASSOCIATES for any legal needs you may have."
"John Cannon has helped me through the hardest time in my life. He helped me through my divorce and custody case. He truly cares about his clients and it made me so happy he always put my daughter first and wanted what was in her best interest as a child. He is very sharp and resourceful and he has been very attentive and responsive to my needs, John is very polite and professional and he always has a great attitude. John always took the time to go over everything and explain everything in depth. I've enjoyed working with John and his team and would recommend him to other clients."
"I have known John for about 6 years now in his capacity as a Judge Advocate and a civilian attorney. John has a rare blend of both sharp analytical and interpersonal skills. I have seen John achieve positive outcomes for clients in complex scenarios and If you need an attorney who can do the same for you - this is your guy."
"John did a very good job. Although the outcome was not 100% what we expected(strange judgement) it was overall positive. I would, have and will continue to recommended him. Although I certainly hope to not need his services again in the capacity I hired him for I would not hesitate to call if I do. Thanks John"
"I signed up with John June 25th, July 5th I received an email that my case is in line to be DISMISSED, within a 2 week time period John made what was one of the most stressful times in my life better! Every case is different but he handled my case with care and he was extremely open in his communication throughout the whole process. I hope to never have to have a criminal attorney again but if I do I will definitely go back to John. I highly recommend him to anyone else who is needing an attorney!"
"John is a highly respected attorney. Professional and compassionate. He has a wealth of knowledge, being a military officer and having served as an Assistant District Attorney, a Public Defender, and an Assistant Attorney General. He helped a friend's son who was headed down the wrong path, but through John's legal defense the young man is now a successful business owner."
"John is a very professional attorney, who is not only concerned about the welfare of his client but very attentive and considerate of the family, or other bodies that are in the face of the adversity. While working on my family members case, John took time out to take a class that would educate him on how to approach the many different types of cases tried in the court room. John proved his sincerity to the calling of his job, being an attorney. I would definitely recommend him to anyone."
"Mr. Cannon went above and beyond for my wife. She was facing some pretty hard fines and prison time with the US Marshalls. Mr. Cannon fought a hard fight and got her a GREAT offer. Words cannot express how much I appreciate him and what he did for my wife. I would give 10 stars and I will be promoting him. He's that awesome. He keeps you informed, he will text or call you back, and he goes above what he is asked to do and I can reassure you"HE WILL FIGHT FOR YOU OR YOUR FAMILY MEMBER". I will continue retaining him for other things my wife is battling. High five and a great big hug to Mr. Cannon. Thank you!!! John took the reigns and provided us instant peace of mind. He was timely, respectful, transparent, very professional, honest and courteous. The service he provided was above and beyond our expectations. Can’t believe professionals like him are around. Highly highly without reservations recommend him and his team."
"John Cannon is an excellent attorney. He takes sincere interest in your needs. He maintains communication and provides all the information you might want to fully understand the legal process. He also suggests alternative resolutions to your legal needs so that you can make informed choices. I definitely recommend John."
"My experience with CANNON & ASSOCIATES was absolutely amazing. I hired John Cannon two days before my rebuttal statement was due back to the Staff Judge Advocate. Within that time frame he was able to talk to my Battery and Battalion Commanders, review my evidence, and help me write a rebuttal statement that help prove my case to them, the Brigade Commander and the Post Commanding General. Cannon worked thru the night to help me get the best results for me and my family. Due to his hard work and attention to detail I am still able to continue to serve my country and progress in my military career with no adverse actions on my record. I can not thank him enough on a job well done. Cannon showed me that he was invested in my case and I highly recommend you hire him when you need someone to represent you in a legal matter."
"John Cannon assisted me through a very difficult time in my military career. He worked tirelessly with me on my case and kept me informed during the entire process. I can't say enough good things about Mr. Cannon. He's incredibly knowledgeable with regards to military justice. The outcome of my case was successful and I attribute that to Mr. Cannon's professionalism and expertise in dealing with military law. I would highly recommend Mr. Cannon to anyone with military justice or criminal defense needs."
"Hands down the best lawyer. Mr.Cannon accepted my case and got on it the same day. I would give him 10 stars if I could. I really appreciate the dedication on how he handles things with a short time frame."
"Mr. Cannon has represented me on 2 criminal cases and one civil case over the past 4 years. He has always served me honestly, speedily and with good moral direction. John has integrity and humility. He has never belittled me or treated me in an unfair manor. I appreciate all that he has done for me and I most certainly recommend him to family, strangers and friends. I will definitely use Mr. Cannon in the future for any and all of my family's legal matters."
"Mr. Cannon went above and beyond for my wife. She was facing some pretty hard fines and prison time with the US Marshalls. Mr. Cannon fought a hard fight and got her a GREAT offer. Words cannot express how much I appreciate him and what he did for my wife. I would give 10 stars and I will be promoting him. He's that awesome. He keeps you informed, he will text or call you back, and he goes above what he is asked to do and I can reassure you"HE WILL FIGHT FOR YOU OR YOUR FAMILY MEMBER". I will continue retaining him for other things my wife is battling. High five and a great big hug to Mr. Cannon. Thank you!!!"
"I had a great experience with John. He is very personable and helped me a lot. I’m really grateful I found him. He made me feel confident that he was the right lawyer for my case and that he wasn’t trying to sell me but genuinely just wanted to help me. I would highly recommend John to anyone!"
"Working with Mr. Cannon has been a real life-saving experience for me and my family. He provides the knowledge of the possibilities as soon as he can get them, then works tirelessly to ensure that any concerns or questions are addressed immediately. He has been a great asset to us not only in the face of legal troubles, but in providing a sense of security that is truly reassuring in the face of the uncertain.Mr. Cannon has been a great resource and has been very patient with me. From the start he provided a list of things to do that would help me help him with my case and since the beginning has continued to give advice or suggestions on any matter that has bothered me with my situation, large or small. He is gentle, yet realistic, and this combination really does become a rock in tumultuous times such as these.I would highly recommend Mr. Cannon to anyone who needs a vigilant and committed attorney, especially one that stands by your side until your issue is resolved. He goes above and beyond not only to work, but to care for his clients!"
"John Cannon assisted me through a very difficult time in my military career. He worked tirelessly with me on my case and kept me informed during the entire process. I can't say enough good things about Mr. Cannon. He's incredibly knowledgeable with regards to military justice. The outcome of my case was successful and I attribute that to Mr. Cannon's professionalism and expertise in dealing with military law. I highly recommend Mr. Cannon to anyone with military justice or criminal defense needs."