Hey guys, my name is Heath Davis, and I’m a practicing attorney here in the state of Oklahoma. I wanted to answer one of the most common questions we get, and that is, what does the divorce process look like? So I want to explain the process from beginning to end.
A case is started by one party filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. Simultaneously with that, an application for temporary orders is filed. Once those are filed with the court clerk, the court clerk then issues an automatic temporary injunction and a summons, which allows us to then serve the other party with those documents.
Once they’re served with those documents, they then have 20 days to file a response with the court. It’s very important for you guys to know if you get served with those documents, you only have 20 days to file that response, otherwise you’re at risk of the court granting a default judgment against you.
Understanding the Parenting Plan Conference (PPC)
If that’s not the case and a response is filed, the court then sets us for a parenting plan conference or what we refer to as a PPC. Prior to that PPC, the court requires us to exchange certain financial information, which we commonly refer to as DR5 documents. Once that’s done, we go to the parenting plan conference where you’re required to sit and listen to the judge talk to you for about 20 to 30 minutes about the ins and outs of going through a divorce with minor children.
Once that’s done, the court strongly encourages the parties to try to attempt to come up with an agreement on a temporary basis, otherwise the court will give us a referral to our district court judge who then will make those determinations with regards to custody, visitation, and child support for us. At the same time, the court will provide you with information that you’re going to be required to do during the pendency of the case. One is watching a video, the second is attending a seminar with regards to going through a divorce with minor children involved.
The Discovery Process and Trial Preparation
The second thing then that will happen if you do get a referral, we will go to a temporary order hearing and the judge will make, like I said, those determinations with regards to custody, visitation, and child support. Once that’s completed, we then enter into what’s called the discovery process.
The discovery process entails sending questions and requesting certain documents from the parties so that they can exchange it in preparation for trial. It’s commonly referred to interrogatories, request for production of documents, and request for admissions. The parties then have the opportunity to take the deposition of the other party, which is asking questions and putting them under oath and seeing what their testimony is going to be at trial.
Prior to a trial, the courts require all parties to attend mediation. Mediation is a process where the parties sit down with their attorney, a third attorney is present and helps the parties navigate the process and attempt to come up with a final agreement or an agreed temporary order without the risk of having to go to court.
The Final Trial and Decree of Dissolution
If we do have to go to court, we then use those discovery documents to create exhibits and the court sets a trial. At that trial, court hears testimony, the court considers evidence, and the court will make final determinations with regards to what custody, visitation, child support, property, and debt division, and alimony if that’s the case.
So once that final trial is held, the court will then make those final determinations and enter into a final decree of dissolution of marriage. At that time, you will then be pronounced divorced and you’ll have to wait six months prior to either remarrying any other party.
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