Family Courts Handle All Legal Issues Related to Family Life
Video Transcribed: So let’s talk about the purpose of family court. What are we doing here? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a father’s rights lawyer in Oklahoma with dads.law. And I want to talk to you about why we go to family court.
This kind of seems like a bare-bones, basic stupid question, but it’s something that I think many people don’t consider. And I think it’s worth a brief discussion as to why family courts exist and what they’re for and not. Well, I’m going to start by saying family courts are not there to punish your ex for bad behavior. The days of fault divorce are more or less dead. Oklahoma’s a no-fault state. And although you can file for fault, which is available under the law, most people don’t do that.
And the court will be far less concerned with whose fault it is than figuring out, in most instances, how we can equitably deal with the issues on the ground. They will be concerned about the children’s best interests if there are child custody issues.
If there are money and property division issues, they will look at how we can divide the marital estate equitably. In other words, what’s fair? And what’s fair is not to seriously consider things like she stepped out on you with a dude.
You had a piece on the side; you were mean to her on this date. She was mean to you on that date. She called you this expletive. You called her that expletive. Other than to the extent it affects your children. In that instance, then the court will concern itself with it, but the court’s not going to care as much about who was right and wrong.
Now, there are some exceptions, a big one being if there’s domestic violence. Still, generally speaking, all things being equal, if you’re not dealing with domestic violence or child abuse, serious issues, or serious misconduct like that, the court will primarily be concerned with the children’s best interest. And what is fair when it comes to property division?
So if you think you’re going to go into court and just punish your ex and call them out on the carpet, and this judge is just going to have to hold them accountable, you’re going to be very, very disappointed with the family court because that’s not how it works. It’s just not.
There are specific situations where you can file contempt and ask the court to punish somebody for failing to comply with a court order. And that is available, but that’s not the majority of what we do in family court.
The court is going to look at equitable division when it comes to property and best interest when it comes to children. And all things being equal, that’s going to be how the court figures out what to do.
So that’s the first thing to understand. Another thing to understand about family court is what we’re doing is trying to take either a broken marriage or a relationship that was never a marriage where a kid came out of it and figured out how are we going to order these people’s lives in such a way that it benefits the child and that we can deal with both spouses fairly?
So when you’re dealing with child custody litigation, one of the things to bear in mind I think it’s relevant if you have a parent who is intentionally alienating you. We’ve talked about that in the past, and that’s something that you should bring to the court’s attention.
But another thing to be aware of is when you have alienation or have allegations of abuse, one of the things a court will look to is they’re going to look at it from the perspective of, again, the best interest analysis. One of the things they’re going to look at in many cases is that child’s perspective.
So you could potentially, and this is a legitimate problem. You could potentially be dealing with a situation where you have a child who believes something happened, even if it didn’t, and the court is stuck dealing with that child and that scenario.
And that can be a problem, although not necessarily insurmountable, but a problem when you’re talking about allegations of child abuse or domestic violence because the child may incorrectly believe something happened or that something is abused.
But from that child’s viewpoint, mom or dad still did something to me or in front of me. And now the court has to deal with that reality. And the court will be far more concerned with the welfare of that child than whose fault it is that situation came about.
So that’s something to be aware of, I guess how I would put it to you. In terms of property division, as I said, the court will be concerned with what is equitable. They’re not going to be concerned with punishing a party for misconduct in the marriage, even though, and I get it, getting cheated on sucks. It hurts a lot. And that’s one of the worst betrayals a person can experience. When you get married, at least in theory, you’re promising to be loyal to that person before anybody else, except maybe your children.
And to find out that person has been involved with another party is devastating. And I get it. I do. But in terms of modern divorce litigation, the reality is they’re going to get an equitable share of the marital estate. And if you want to have that fight, you can try, but I’m going to tell you right now, you’re probably not going to like the result. And you’re going to spend a lot of money to try to be right about something that, in 10 years, you probably won’t care about being right. You’re going to care about how much it costs you. So understand that about family court.
And that’s the nugget of what you’re doing in family court. It’s not a criminal court; it’s not a place to punish people’s wrongdoing. It’s where you’re dealing with what’s best for children and what’s equitable. That’s what family court is about. And you should go into it with that in mind and think in that direction.
Yes, there’s a time and a place to fight. And I’m not saying don’t fight. I am saying that when you’re fighting, this is what you’re fighting for. And this is what you should not be fighting for. Fight to be in your children’s lives, get an equitable division, and fight not to get skinned alive with alimony or skinned with child support. If it’s going to be ordered, it should be ordered at the correct amount. And if you can avoid the alimony, by all means, avoid it.
But understand that if you go in there and say, well, she cheated on me. I shouldn’t have to give her anything. Court’s going to disagree with you on that point probably. And it’s going to cost you a lot of money to put that argument on just to end up being told, no, that’s not the law. So understand that.
Understand that if you go in and tell a judge that your ex should be on supervised visitation because she cheated on you with Chad Cheddington, guess what? Unless there’s something wrong with him that you can objectively point to and say this is why he’s an unwholesome influence.
And when I see something wrong, I’m not talking about the fact that he’s participated in adultery. I’m saying something wrong with him because he’s got a criminal record and a history with DHS. He’s got POs against him. Those sort of things. Yes. The court will care about that. And that could lead to supervised visitation.
But quite frankly, if he just poached out of your backyard, the court won’t care. Court’s not going to care. You can try to raise that argument. You can argue nesting that may get you some traction, but what that’s probably going to get you is joint custody. You’ll not stick your ex on supervised visitation punitively for cheating on you.
And I mean, I only mention this because I’ve had people come to me and say that they want to put the ex on supervision because they cheated, and it’s like, it’s not going to happen. And I mean, honestly, that’s not something you want to ask the court for anyway. It looks petty.
So if you are going into family court, the last thing I’ll say is it is not a place to try to learn as you go. If you have questions about any of that, if you ever need a child support attorney in Tulsa or a Men’s Child Custody Lawyer in Oklahoma, you can find one at Dads.Law.