Oklahoma City Divorce Lawyer for Property Division

Divorce can quickly become more challenging than anticipated, especially when the time comes to divide up property, bank accounts, and other spouse-owned property.

That makes it all the more important to appoint Oklahoma City divorce lawyers that will carry out reliable and thorough work to understand what the couple owns and how to achieve equitable distribution.

Some cases are more complex than others. Some spouses have separate property that, ideally, they would prefer not to be considered as part of divorce arrangements. Meanwhile, couples with business interests may have to consider corporate contracts and, where each owns a separate entity, the division of respective companies.

Cannon & Associates serves clients throughout Oklahoma City and surrounding areas, and are standing by to provide the best possible legal services to aid in reaching the most desirable outcome.

Our professional services are designed for positive outcomes in family matters, and we will work tirelessly to ensure a fair and equitable agreement for former spouses in Oklahoma City. At no point are the people we work with ever considered just another customer, and we’ll work with you to the extent of family law to understand the marital estate and find the best possible solution for property distribution.

The attorney-client relationship begins with a free consultation, and you can reach out to our law firm at our Oklahoma City office for all your legal needs at any time at 405-591-3935.

Wooden block houses , stacks of coins and saplings growing from the money.

Defining 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”.

Dividing Marital Property Under Oklahoma Law

Oklahoma City, along with the rest of the state, is subject to the Equitable Distribution Law. Under this law, the goal is not to divide assets equally, but fairly. As such, it takes into account every aspect of the previous partnership while considering child support, spousal support, and retirement benefits.

Oklahoma’s Equitable Distribution Law considers property that may have been owned before the marriage or anything acquired by way of gift or inheritance. This is considered separate property and will generally not play a part in an Oklahoma divorce.

Meanwhile, anything clearly shared between a couple will be subject to asset division. Your attorney will provide formal legal advice while looking to meet all your personal legal needs, along with those prescribed by the state.

A couple with their rings on a table in front of divorce paperwork.

Can A Divorce Affect My Retirement Accounts?

Family law alone may not meet your legal needs following a divorce. It’s also essential to appoint Oklahoma City divorce lawyers that understand the implications of retirement in divorce.

Retirement plans, employment-related retirement benefits, savings, and future real estate acquisitions all count as assets for consideration as part of a divorce. Unless the two spouses and their divorce attorney can arrange these family matters internally, there is always a possibility that these assets may be divided up in court.

Divorce arrangements can be as much about protecting the assets that are special to one party as conventional considerations like spousal support and child support. While a significant life event in its own right, divorce can lead to sweeping changes in future plans without assistance from a reputable law firm.

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 Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

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

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 QDRO?

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.

A gavel dividing a family and toy house.

Key Considerations When Working Towards Separate Property

While the law dictates how property division typically plays out in Oklahoma City, OK, there remains plenty of nuance to the entire process. Fairness is inherently subjective, and that extends to marital assets.

If the property distribution case makes it to court following divorce proceedings, the presiding judge will consider the following:

  • The age and overall health of both spouses
  • The length of the marriage and whether both parties underwent a legal separation
  • Any considerations surrounding child custody and associated expenses
  • Whether the marital property is liquid or illiquid
  • Debt division
  • Any wasteful dissipation of the marital estate on the part of either spouse
  • Anything else the courts consider fair and equitable

It is worth considering that a judge in asset division cases is under no obligation to take guidance from a family lawyer or either spouse. As such equitable distribution through respective legal representation will often lead to the best possible outcome in ultimately determining separate property.

Further Understanding Equitable Property Division

There are numerous specific considerations when it comes to dividing property. The law around equitable distribution means that there is no standardized means of dividing shared assets.

One of the primary considerations among law firms and court systems alike involves children. If no children are involved in divorce proceedings, the case can quickly become much simpler.

Real estate acquisitions become significantly easier to deal with, for example. An attorney or judge can help to decide whether a house is considered marital property or separate property, for example.

In cases of separate property, where only one name appears on the deed to the house in question, the title holder retains sole ownership of the house and has the right to request that the other spouse vacates the property as part of proceedings.

However, a house may be considered marital property for a number of reasons, not least if it was jointly purchased during the marriage. In the majority of cases, neither spouse has the legal right to request that the other vacate the marital home, often leading to both parties seeking out the very professional services of a specialist mediator.

The only gray area here involves domestic violence. If either spouse has been involved in a criminal defense case concerning domestic violence, a court may order the forced removal of the offending party.

What to Expect From Your Free Consultation

A free consultation marks the beginning of an attorney-client relationship. The prospective client’s role is to decide whether they wish to appoint a lawyer to oversee proceedings. The conversation will touch on anything relevant to the case.

Given that no two family law cases are ever the same, it represents an opportunity for both the lawyer and the new client to discuss the nature of the case, specifically, the assets held that might become subject to future distribution.

Many cases center on the family home and any children involved as standard. However, a lawyer from Cannon & Associates will help you understand the nuances of your specific case. We have worked with clients from all walks of life, many of whom seek our assistance due to their unique requirements.

For example, a divorce may involve not only domestic affairs but also corporate contracts. Our attorneys work across a range of practice areas, ensuring we can always view cases from a more holistic level.

After all, property distribution cases become more complex depending on the nature of a couple’s affairs. We can always assure you that we will carry out reliable and thorough work at every step to ensure that no stone is left unturned and, in the spirit of Oklahoma law, our clients receive their equitable portion of shared assets.

How An Oklahoma City Lawyer Can Help You

A divorce is a stressful event at the best of times, but appointing an attorney from Cannon & Associates can help ensure that clients receive everything they are entitled to.

State laws mean that it is unlikely that a couple can divide their assets strictly down the middle. However, this can be beneficial, as it takes into account the individual circumstances of both parties. It also means that, providing some kind of agreement can be reached, no couple is ever forced to sell the marital home when it may not be in their best interests.

Our attorneys focus heavily on fairness, exactly as the law dictates. In most cases, the goal is never to go to court at all, and we guide clients at every stage to ensure they receive what they deserve, while maintaining the equitable spirit of dividing property.

We have worked with clients from every conceivable background. From housewives that have never worked throughout the course of their marriage to individuals that have built businesses over time, we represent the true interests of everyone we work with and always seek to ensure a balanced approach.

Frequently Asked Questions Around Property Division in Divorce in Oklahoma City

How is a house divided in a divorce in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma is, alongside 41 other states in the US, considered an Equitable Distribution state. While this doesn’t always equate to equal distribution, it ensures that a fair property split that doesn’t favor one spouse is enshrined in law.

Typically, splitting a house in Oklahoma City, OK comes down to one of three options:

  1. Both spouses agree to sell the house and divide the proceeds equally
  2. One partner buys out the other spouse, either using cash on hand or by taking out a second mortgage
  3. One spouse grants temporary possession to the other, usually for a set period of time, such as when the final child leaves the family home

What is a spouse entitled to in a divorce in Oklahoma?

Again, Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state. As such, both spouses are entitled to a fair share of marital property. Ideally, both spouses will come to an agreement on how property is divided, often with assistance from a lawyer from a reputable law firm.

If it proves impossible to divide ownership of property fairly with professional advice, the legal process ensures that the courts can step in to ensure that the law is upheld.

Is Oklahoma A 50-50 state when it comes to divorce?

While the division of property in Oklahoma City is equitable, that does not always mean that it is equal. While many believe in 50-50 distribution following a divorce, this will not always be the case here, with a focus more on the fairness of property distribution than ensuring everything is split entirely down the middle.

For example, under equitable division, if one spouse is more financially stable than the other and has more chance of acquiring new property to replace anything lost throughout divorce cases, the spouse with less financial security may receive more in an Oklahoma divorce to compensate.

Call Oklahoma City’s Leading Divorce Attorneys Today

A specialist marital property lawyer is not just for the most complex cases. While some of our clients may undergo a high net worth divorce, we work with divorcing spouses from all backgrounds to ensure they understand state law around separate property division.

Most importantly, we always operate in the best interests of our clients. Nobody we work with is ever considered just another customer, and we strive to ensure that rights are respected and that all parties receive an equitable distribution of previously shared property.

No matter your property goals following a divorce and where in Oklahoma County you reside, lawyers from Cannon & Associates will ensure you can have the utmost confidence in how marital property is divided following a divorce.We strive to provide the best legal representation possible, and our team is standing by now to discuss your legal needs. It all starts with a free consultation, and you can reach out to our family law lawyers at our Oklahoma City office now at 405-591-3935.


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