In Oklahoma, divorces are done in stages. Oklahoma’s stages are different than Louisiana’s stages though – in Louisiana, first custody is dealt with and then property. In Oklahoma, the first stage after the filing and service, is the Temporary Order stage. This is a hearing where if the parties can’t decide what is best for them by negotiation, the parties go before a judge (with their lawyers) and they argue why things should be the way they want them to be. Then, the judge decides, and one attorney should write up either a Journal Entry or a Temporary Order for all parties to sign. A few weeks ago I was ordered by the Judge to write the JE (Journal Entry). The reason I got picked for the job (I believe) is not because I am better, but because I had won (overall) the hearing. I got almost everything I asked for. I also had a great client. Sometimes attorney’s are unable to prevail because of their client. I have a few like those.
When I started out, I compared everything to Arkansas. I didn’t like having a Temporary Order Hearing because it seemed like a waste of time and money. I have since changed my mind. Here are a few reasons I now like TO’s.
- Child Support. Generally child support is ordered at the Temporary Hearing. If you are a custodial parent, getting child support can save you. I have a woman who was having to take out payday loans to survive until the TO. I have another woman who had to move in with her parents. If you are a noncustodial parent, it is still to your benefit to begin paying. The reason is that statutorily, child support can go back to the date of filing of the divorce. So if child support goes back a month prior to the TO, it’s hard to not impossible. But if the divorce isn’t final for 6 months or more, the noncustodial parent could be extremely in arrears from the date of filing. Another reason is that in Oklahoma, statute permits 10% per year to be added to the child support for arrearages. So, if you are paying $400 a month and were 9 months behind ($3600) and had to pay the current child support on top of that plus 10% interest, you will never get on top of it. You will just get further and further behind. And failing to pay child support has teeth. You can lose you driver’s license, your nursing license, ANY state license that you hold can be revoked for non-payment of child support. So, both custodial and noncustodial parents win when child support is ordered at the TO.
- The TO is Temporary. This allows for adjustments to be made. For example, if joint custody is ordered and one parent does not exercise his or her visitation, the TO can be changed at the trial to allow for that. So a TO allows for adjustments to be made before the final order. Once a final order is handed down, it’s written in stone into a person reopens a case which costs additional money.
- TO’s Save Money. This seems contradictory, because it costs more money to have additional hearings. But because the TO is temporary (even though it can be a window into things to come) it allows for things to be changed as needed. For many people, the TO is a trial and if it works, then a final decree is circulated between the lawyers, signed by both parties and their lawyers, and submitted to the Judge. But if it’s not working, then people have the ability to fix things before it’s final.
If you have any more questions about TO’s give me a call. 405-602-1998