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Family law

Paternity:

Oklahoma law has dramatically changed with the adoption of the Uniform Parentage Act. Certain deadlines for the denial of paternity or establishment of child support exist and could adversely affect your rights. We understand DNA testing and the scientific requirements used to establish paternity. It is very important to know your rights and the rights of your child as soon as possible after a child’s birth. Once paternity has been established, the child obtains many legal rights beyond child support. For example, the child can inherit from his or her father, is eligible for health insurance coverage under the father’s group policy, is entitled to social security benefits if the father dies or becomes disabled, may be entitled to wrongful death benefits if the father dies as a result of someone else’s negligence and can obtain medical history information as a result of establishing paternity.

A common misperception is that the State of Oklahoma, through the Department of Human Services can handle paternity matters for free and an attorney is not needed. The State of Oklahoma can only establish paternity and set forth child support orders and orders for past due child support and medical expenses. The issues involving custody, visitation, joint decision making, rights of first refusal and name changes for the minor child, among others, can only be done in state Court. For that you will need an experienced attorney and that is where we are here to help. We can help you with your state case in administrative court or in District Court. A private attorney also has the ability to enlist all of the services that the State has which include wage garnishments and tax intercepts for the collection of past due support or other support including medical expenses and daycare expenses.

The most common problem I hear from clients is that the State takes too long or they feel they are not personally represented. It is true that the State does NOT represent either party. I have a number of friends working for the State and they are great attorneys, however, they are overwhelmed and under budgeted like many of Oklahoma’s governmental agencies. Even though the cost is free, the waiting can be months or longer to establish paternity and child support, and then you will still need to register your order with the District Court and file a Petition to establish custody, visitation and a name change, among other things. It would be more advantageous to hire an attorney who can do ALL of the things the State can do and everything they can’t, and most importantly, just go to Court in one location and get all the matters handled together? If you want someone to who represents your interests in a paternity matter and will work to get your case handled promptly, then call us for an initial consultation.

Adoptions:

If you desire that your new spouse adopt your child(ren), also called a step-parent adoption, or you are adopting a child you are not yet related to, we can help. For step-parents you must be married to your adopting spouse for at least one year before the adoption can be granted. We handle adoptions in Tulsa County as well as certain Tribal Courts. Adoption is basically a two step process. First, the parental rights of the birth parent(s) must be terminated. The Second step is to go to Court and have the adoption granted. We can help with all of the numerous forms and paperwork that include the required home-studies, background checks, and legal documents necessary to unite your new family.

Modifications:

Let’s face it, everything changes over time. “omnia mutantur, nihil interit”.  Your income or your ex’s incomes increase due to raises or drop due to layoffs, health insurance costs increase, children get older and become more involved with social and sports activities and ex-spouses relocate or remarry, just to name a few of the life changes we all go through.  Many fact patterns exist that might give rise to a modification to your current Court Order. Among the most common modifications of Court orders are the adjustment/increasing of child support. Generally, child support may be modified on a change in circumstances. Child custody modifications are subject to a higher standard.  Terminating joint custody plans require yet a different legal standard to be modified. There is a myriad of possibilities.  If you need to register an out of state Court Order and modify it, we handle that as well as every modification that can be thought of.  Please call me to discuss the facts of your modification case. We will discreetly provide you the legal options you have so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.

Victim Protective Orders:

If you are the victim of domestic abuse or being stalked or harassed by a former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone related to you by blood or marriage you may be entitled to receive protection under the law. If you have been falsely accused of abuse that resulted in a protective order against you we can help with that too. We can assist you in getting a Protective Order for you and/or your children or defending as may be the case. We also refer some clients to the Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS). DVIS is a non-profit organization that can help you with the protective order process, including documenting injuries, filing for an initial protective order and providing counseling and temporary shelter, as available. Our office enjoys a very friendly relationship with the excellent attorneys and counselors in their office. We can also assist you in the filing of the paperwork as well. Once the protective order is filed on your behalf, we will appear at all Court appearances so that you never go it alone. If you are defending a falsely filed protective order we will also file a response for you and attend all Court appearances. If appropriate, we can also file the paperwork necessary to get the falsely file protective order expunged from your record so that future employers or character references will not discriminate against you.

Temporary and Permanent Restraining Orders are also authorized by law in appropriate circumstances. We will be happy to discuss these with you as well.

Pre-Marital Agreements & Other Legal Forms:

No one plan’s on getting divorced, however, if you need to protect your separate assets, you will need to have an agreement drafted before you get married. We can help you draft the necessary legal documents that protect you and your new spouse’s rights.

We also draft Limited and Full Powers of Attorney. Each case is unique and we can draft these forms based on your specific requirements.

Grandparent’s Rights

As a grandparent, your grandchildren probably mean the world to you, and if you are like many people you would do almost anything to protect them. Family situations involving divorce and other issues can be hard on everyone involved, especially children, and if you find yourself in a similar situation you may be worried about how this will affect your relationship with your grandchildren. The Supreme Court of the United States, in Troxel v. Granville, 527 U.S. 1069, (1999), held that so long as a parent is fit the state normally should not interfere with or further question the ability of that parent to make the best decisions concerning the rearing of that parent’s children. Oklahoma has modified it’s statute many times to comply with this federal mandate and our own Supreme Court has set forth in great detail what rights grandparent’s have. The Oklahoma law specifically states that under no circumstances shall any judge grant the right of visitation to any grandparent if the child is a member of an intact nuclear family and both parents of the child object to the granting of visitation. 43 Okl.St.Ann. § 109.4 (B). However, there are many circumstances that give rise to the disruption of an intact nuclear family.

In situations where one or both biological parents are deemed to be unfit because of drugs, alcohol, financial circumstances, or illness, you may be able to win physical custody of your grandchildren. The Oklahoma court system always has the best interests of children at heart, and if living with you would be the best thing for them then we will help you fight to make this happen. If you are a grandparent and concerned about your grandchildren, please call for a consultation to find out your options and to see how we can help you.