When you are in a fractured marriage, it can be difficult to know what legal steps to take. Different options have different consequences. Ultimately, you must make the decision that is right for your family.
It is important to understand the pros and cons of both legal separation and divorce before you make decisions that will impact your legal rights.
What is Legal Separation?
Legal separation in Oklahoma is a process that allows a couple to stay legally married, but with some of the protections of divorce. A court can issue orders for child support, spousal maintenance, parenting rights, and other issues commonly addressed in divorce.
Temporary orders are especially important for couples who share joint custody of their children during a separation. Having court orders in place helps resolve disputes and confusion. This makes the process easier and can ease much of the stress that a separation and family realignment places on children.
But why file for legal separation instead of divorce? Some couples simply do not want to divorce. This may be for religious reasons, or because they are working to reconcile. Remaining married can affect access to a spouse’s employer-provided health insurance. Couples involved in a family business venture might want to remain partners in business, avoiding complicated division of marital assets, but live separately for personal reasons.
There can also be tax implications: previously, spousal maintenance was deductible by the payor, and taxed as income to the recipient. Under the 2017 revisions to the tax code that take effect in the 2019 tax year, spousal maintenance is tax-neutral (meaning it is neither deductible by the payor nor taxable to the recipient).
Such changes to federal tax laws can affect the decision to file for legal separation as opposed to divorce. It is important for anyone considering a legal separation or divorce to consult with a tax professional or family law attorney about the tax consequences of this decision.
Legal Separation and Parenting
Whatever the reasons for a legal separation or divorce, it is important to understand that either process can dramatically affect your parenting rights. Section 43-112 of the Oklahoma Statutes gives family court judges the authority to make parenting decisions in either divorce or legal separation cases. The court can award custody solely to one parent. The court can award joint custody, but award a greater share of physical custody to one or the other parent.
The court can allow one parent to make important legal decisions in the child’s life, including matters of education, healthcare and religion. It is important to have the guidance of an experienced Tulsa divorce attorney any time courts get involved in your parenting rights. These decisions can permanently affect the relationship you have with your children — and with your former spouse, with whom you share parental responsibilities.
Consult a Tulsa Fathers’ Rights Lawyer Now
Separating from a spouse is never easy. It is important to choose the legal process that is right for your family, and will best protect your parenting rights. It is my mission to help Tulsa fathers protect their parenting rights while reducing the tension of co-parenting. Call my office at (918) 986-7724 for answers to your questions or set up an initial consultation. You may also contact us online.