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This is a legal device or proceeding similar to a divorce in which the financial and legal lives of a married couple are separated and the parties stop cohabitating or living together. In a legal separation, the parties can obtain nearly all of the same relief available through a divorce such as the division of property and debts, child custody, and child and spousal support. However, the parties’ marriage is not terminated and they remain legally married. A legal separation may be preferred because a person’s religious beliefs do not approve of or permit a divorce.

If you are considering filing for legal separation, advice from a professional family law attorney is a must. Family law practice demands extensive knowledge of the law; listening skills, problem solving, and compassion for good people in difficult situations. Carrie M. Luelling provides clients effective and compassionate representation. She provides honest, straightforward and comprehensive solutions to your legal separation concerns.

Petitions

A detailed petition packed is filed that includes detailed information on your residency, marriage and grounds for legal separation. Oklahoma has adopted the concept of “no-fault” separation. It is not necessary to prove cruelty, adultery, abandonment or any other fault on the part of your spouse for the court to grant a separation. A simple statement that you and your spouse have developed “irreconcilable incompatibility” is all that is required. “Irreconcilable incompatibility” is the legal phrase used to say that you and your spouse are no longer getting along. Either party can request a separation without the other’s permission or agreement. You cannot stop the separation from happening if your spouse wants one.

Temporary Orders

A spouse cannot be forced to pay money or to take other desired action unless there is a court case pending. This means a separation case must be filed to obtain an order that requires your spouse to take specific action. We can ask the court to order support for you and/or the children, award you exclusive use of your vehicle and home, or provide various other forms of relief while the case is pending. Keep in mind the first step is to ask. Your spouse has an opportunity to object to your requests. A hearing will be held in the event you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement about how to handle issues while the separation is pending. The court will then hear your evidence and make its decision on the temporary matters.

Voluntary support payments can set a precedent with both your spouse and the court. Talk to us about what is reasonable in your situation. Do not pay too much or accept too little and by your actions tell the judge that these temporary amounts are fair.

Discovery

Discovery is the process of gathering information that will build and strengthen your case at trial. During discovery, you will gather favorable information about yourself for your attorney to present to the court. Methods used to gather information include: written discovery (interrogatories, requests for admission and requests for production of documents) and depositions.

But equally important is anticipating your opponent’s case. Winning a favorable judgment means you have to be prepared to deal with your spouse’s allegations.

Mediation

When parties are unwilling or unable to resolve a dispute, one good option is to turn to mediation. Mediation is generally a short-term, structured, task-oriented, and “hands-on” process.

In mediation, the disputing parties work with a neutral third party, the mediator, to resolve their disputes. The mediator facilitates the resolution of the parties’ disputes by supervising the exchange of information and the bargaining process. The mediator helps the parties find common ground and deal with unrealistic expectations. He or she may also offer creative solutions and assist in drafting a final settlement. The role of the mediator is to interpret concerns, relay information between the parties, frame issues, and define the problems.

Pre-Trial Conference

A pre-trial conference is the final meeting between the two attorneys and assigned Judge. The attorneys exchange exhibits and witness lists, agree on what issues of fact are disputed (custody, property division, etc.) and set a trial date. It is very difficult to admit additional exhibits and witnesses after this date, so it is very important to have all documents and witness information to your attorney well in advance.

Trial

If you and the other side cannot resolve all of the issues, a judge will decide them for you. Depending on the issues, this may take a few hours, or several days. Typically, a separation in which every issue is contested will take from one to three days to complete. Each party will have an opportunity to present his or her case to the trial judge. The trial judge will then make a decision, after which one of the lawyers will draft an order or judgment that incorporates the judge’s ruling. Once the judgment is signed and entered in the court record, if the case was contested, either party may request an award of attorney fees, and either party may appeal from the case. Carrie is able to represent you in both of those disputes.

Contact Carrie

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