Family Law

The most important thing in your life is your family. Family law is emotionally the toughest area of the law. It is not about money, its not about property, its about you and the people you love.

Whether you are seeking or defending a dissolution of marriage, attempting to obtain custody of your children, seeking child support or needing to modify current child support, wanting to relocate with your children, or just needing a quick and inexpensive divorce with property and debt division, the law firm of Christian M. Zeaman is here to help.

1) Dissolution of Marriage

Dissolution of Marriage (i.e. Divorce) is not an easy step to take. If you and your spouse have reached a point where reconciliation is not possible, the law affords you the right to disolve the marriage. In a dissolution of marriage action, the Court will do the following: 1) Award a Dissolution of Marriage based on a statutory ground (incompatibility, adultery, abuse, etc.); 2) Divide marital property and marital debt equitablty (not necessarily equally); 3) Award or restore a spouse his/her separate property (i.e. property aquired prior to marriage, by inheritance, etc.) 4) Award support alimony based on need of the recipient and the other spouse’s ability to pay such; 5) Make a child custody determination and enter a child support order; 6) Enter a visitaiton schedule; 7) Enter other orders that are unique to the parties’ needs and presented to the Court properly.

Each case is unique. In some cases, the most important issue may be the division of military retirement benefits or a 401(k) plan. In other cases, support alimony may be of great importance in order for a spouse to obtain a degree or return to the workforce after an absence. Debt issues also provide unique problems, especially when both parties’ names are on a mortgage. Other than support alimony, child custody and child support, orders in a final divorce decree are NOT modifiable. In other words, you only get one swing at the bat. Therefore, it is important to make sure all issues are addressed. The law firm of Christian M. Zeaman, P.C. will do what is neccessary to protect your interests for your unique situation.

2) Child Custody or Modification

Custody laws have changed in recent years. There has been a large movement toward Joint Custody. However, in many instances, the best interests of a child will be better served if one parent has full custody, with the other parent having visitation periods. In worse situations, supervised visitation may be necessary. It is important to note that statistics show that children who experience or witness turmoil, stress and animosity between divorcing parents often have trouble in school, are more likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol, and are more likely to have emotional issues that extend far beyond their childhood years. As a parent, it is important to take such factors into consideration. If you and your spouse can set your differences aside and work together to communicate and cooperate with one another, joint custody may be a good option. Of course, there are always situations when this is not possible. If your spouse does not have good parenting skills, abuses drugs or alcohol, does not spend quality time with the child, is physical with the child, or puts the child in any type of physical danger, full custody will be the only option. The law firm of Christian M. Zeaman, P.C. will help you decide and pursue what you feel is best for your children.

3) Child Support or Modification

Child Support is based on the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines as calculated on a monthly basis using both parties’ gross incomes. If you click on the Important Websites button to your left, you will find two links to a website that allows you to compute child support. As you will see, many factors can increase/decrease child support, including health insurance premiums, daycare costs, previoius child support orders, and overnight visitations. The law firm of Christian M. Zeaman, P.C. will be able to compute the child support you may receive or be required to pay. Further, if your child has special needs that increase the cost of regular support, additional child support can be requested – even after a child’s eighteenth birthday.

Child Support can also be modified by showing that there has been a substantial increase/decrease in one parent’s income. Further, there may be other situations that merit a modification, such as the amount of time a parent keeps the child, daycare cost fluctuations, medical care costs, or education expenses.

Another key factor to take into consideration is the tax deduction your child. This deduction is very valuable, especially over several years. In many situations, the Court will split the deduction. However, there are many unique situations wherein one parent should receive the full tax deduction each year. This is something the law firm of Christian M. Zeaman, P.C. will discuss with you on your initial consultation.

4) Relocation Hearing

If you are wanting to relocate the primary residence of your child further than 75 miles away from your current residence, you must provide written notice to your ex-spouse. The notice must be made 60 days prior to your anticipated moving date and must provide specific information. Failure to provide proper notice, or failure to provide the specific information requried by statute is grounds to prohibit the relocation. Further, the Court can take such into account and award custody to your ex-spouse. After notice is given, your ex-spouse has 30 days to file a written objection. If an objection is filed, a relocation trial with occur.

If you are wanting to keep your ex-spouse from relocating the primary residence of your child, you must be very careful when filing your written objection because certain things will waive your rights to object to the relocation.

No matter which instance you need representation for, the law firm of Christian M. Zeaman is ready to prepare, prosecute or defend your case. Due to the time sensitivity of this type of action, please call the firm immediately for a consultation. Delay does constitute a waiver under the relocation law.

5) Contempt Proceedings

If the Court has entered an order and your spouse has not followed the order, he may be in contempt of court. You have the right to request the Court to issue a citation ordering your spouse to appear before the Court regarding the charge of contempt. A trial will be set. If your spouse is found guilty, he/she could be sentenced to up to six (6) months in the county jail.

These proceedings can be useful in situations involving payment of child support, alimony or marital debt. For instance, if your spouse was ordered to be responsible for a specific credit card debt in both of your names, and in the event your spouse willfully did not pay the debt, such would harm your credit. The violation of that order and the harm it caused to you would constitute contempt. At a contempt trial, the Court has the ability to sentence your spouse to jail if the debt is not paid on or before a certain date. Of course, contempt proceedings can occur for any order entered in your case. Please contact the firm to discuss this option.

6) Grandparent Visitation Rights

The Supreme Court has ruled that State statutes granting grandparent visitaiton rights are unconstitutional. However, there are a few ways to get around the Supreme Court’s ruling. If you are a grandparent and wish to obtain visitation rights, please contact the law firm of Christian M. Zeaman for a consultation.

7) Guardianships

A guardianship action occurs when a family member needs someone to aid them in his/her physical well being, financial well being or both. Guardianships allow a family member to file an action wherein the Court will grant the authority of Guardianship, called Letters of Guardianship. Once issued, the family member then becomes a guardian over the person who is in need, the Ward. There are many situations where a guardianship can become contested if other family members disagree with another family members appointment or where the potential Ward does not wish to have a Guardian appointed. Further, once appointed, a Guardian must follow statutory requirements, including an annual accounting of funds of the Ward.

There are many situations wherein a Guardian will need to be appointed or removed. Further, there are many situations wherein a guardian may be needed for an incapacitated person or a minor child. Please contact the law firm of Christian M. Zeaman for a consultation.