If a couple cannot come to an agreement about how their “marital property” is to be divided after the divorce, the issue has to be taken to court for resolution. The courts in Oklahoma employ an “equitable distribution” approach to divide the property. Equitable distribution does not mean that the property will be divided equally, but rather in a way that leaves both on a relatively equal standing. Marital property, according to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, is any property that has been accumulated as a result of a marriage. The legal process, which determines what constitutes “marital property”, is called discovery. This process often involves providing documents and records of the items in questions such as vehicles, houses, debts, etc., so that the court can determine their monetary value. Assets or real property owned by the spouse before marriage or acquired as inheritance or gifts after marriage are considered to be separate property, which cannot be divided in the event of a divorce.
There is often confusion about names on the title of a specific property. If the title document has your partner’s name on it that does not automatically mean that the property cannot be split if a divorce takes place. If the property was purchased during the marriage, with money earned during the marriage, it will be considered as marital property and thus, is subject to division. Furthermore, the court does not give more leverage to the party that is making more money than the other; both parties, irrespective of their income level will be compensated fairly (with respect to the total value of the assets). The court’s main aim is to make both parties as economically stable as possible after the divorce.
To avoid the complicated asset division process in court, some couples plan ahead by signing a prenuptial agreement before they tie the knot. A valid prenuptial agreement (which needs to be in writing in Oklahoma) is a customized agreement, which specifies how finances will be handled during the marriage and how assets/property will be divided in case of a divorce. Although, prenuptial agreements are supposed to be mutually agreed and fair, there can be situations where partners can be coerced into accepting terms that they do not agree with. There is a high possibility that the court will not accept skewed agreements but it is highly recommended that each party hire a separate attorney to help them draft an agreement that will be valid under the law in Oklahoma.
It is important to know that prenuptial agreements do not address the following issues:
- Child custody, support or visitation rights
- Personal matters such as your duties as a spouse and/or a parent
What can this mean for couples or for couples in the midst of a divorce?
For a person going through divorce or for someone that is about to tie the knot, emotions can easily take over and cloud your judgment during the whole process. For this reason it is very important to have an asset division lawyer in Oklahoma who understands your emotional position but at the same time handles all your practical matters as efficiently and professionally as possible. Unresolved asset division issues can take years, making the divorce process even longer and more painful. If you are at the doorstep of a complicated divorce or marriage, you should reach out to the experienced asset division lawyers in Oklahoma at Atkins and Markoff who can review your case and provide you with the best legal advice and representation in an Oklahoma court.