Family law help for veterans



I live in Califonia and my ex-wife lives in Oklahoma. When our divorce was finalized it was 2015, so now Oklahoma has jurisdiction for child support.

How would I go about finding out the Family Court who has jurisdiction in Oklahoma?

Right now the State of Oklahoma is claiming I more than I make based on the decision of the Family Court here in California when I was receiving more money from BAH when I went to college in 2015.

Thank you for whatever help you can give me.


Jim's Reply

Generally speaking, the state where the child resides and where the divorce was filed in a family court is where future decisions for child support and alimony are made. If the child relocates after the original divorce decree, the next state the child resides in is responsible for enforcement of the stipulations of the original divorce decree unless the new court has reason to change the decree stipulations. In your case the divorce was finalized in Oklahoma so the laws of that state will guide all this.

The particular family court for your case will usually be in the county or close to where the child currently resides. You can find that with a Google search.

Almost every state will determine the amount of your obligations by requiring that each party to the divorce complete a financial statement. That financial statement is one of the most important documents you'll ever complete. The judge will usually be required to follow a formula to determine your obligation based on what is discovered in the financial statement.

Once the amount of the obligation has been determined, it stays there (or increases each year if that's in the stip) unless and until you formally petition the family court to modify the amount you owe based on income changes beyond your control that have happened since the original divorce. The only way to change the amount owed is to get in front of the family court and ask the judge to lower your payment because your income has dropped. There is no other way. Even if you and she agree to lower your payment, it isn't official until approved by the court and she could eventually force you to pay up any arrears.

Be aware that most family courts don't like the obligor trying to lower the payments that are intended for the welfare of the child or children. The family court has only one ensure the welfare of any children and they don't really care about your problems. To get a modification from an original decree because you now have less income often isn't enough to have the court agree that you can lower the obligation. The court will usually tell you to get out and earn more money to keep up with the original obligation. The court frequently imputes income for you. In other words, if you were obligated to pay (x) 5 years ago and today you claim your income is less because you were laid off, the court may find that you can overcome all this and they can and will impute the income they believe you're capable of earning rather than what you claim to earn.

You can seek a modification by contacting the clerk of the court that would manage any hearing to change your obligation. Clerks of family courts are often helpful in directing you how the system works and what you are required to do. It always begins with completing forms and setting a court date. Most often you are allowed to make a telephone appearance to support your claim for a reduced obligation.

On the speaker phone you'll be sworn and the court will expect that you'll mind your manners just as if you were standing there. The court will listen to what you have to say and your ex will have an equal amount of time to voice her opinion and the judge will move it all right along. There isn't much to say really, the financial statement is the tool that will determine the obligation if the judge agrees.

Most often you are allowed to represent yourself in the family court although a lawyer might help you. The family court is very structured in what is allowed so often enough you'll do as well to represent yourself.

Be aware that the judge doesn't have to agree with you no matter what you put on the financial statement. Once the original amount is set during the first court appearances, the court is loathe to reduce any obligation without some serious reasons...hospitalization or some sort of new injury or accident that keeps you from the workforce. if you can't make a case as strong as that, you could end up with the court deciding to increase your obligation based on how long it's been since the original decree.

Ask for a reduction, walk away with the amount happens every day.

The only thing you carry with you when you enter the family court is your credibility. If you have been on time with your payments in the past and you're able to show that you're diligently seeking employment that will allow you to make your payments promptly, and you show you're being a good dad even with the circumstances, the judge may give you a break...but probably not.

Your status as a disabled veteran doesn't carry any weight in the family court. To the court you're just another potential deadbeat parent and they simply want the money you owe to be delivered promptly. Any disability benefits money you receive must be included in the financial statement calculations as income. Any attempt to fudge any details can result in a backlash from the court if and when they discover deception.

The best way to deal with child support obligations is to pay the obligation promptly even if that means you'll be deprived of the things you may feel that you've earned. This is good for your children and ultimately will serve you never want to be on the dark side of the family court.





Keeping an eye on the VA, because somebody has to.


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