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The Basics

The Focus is On You and Your Family

Facing difficult life changes can be emotionally and physically tolling on you and your family. Our practice will stand beside you to relieve the stress as much as possible and find the best feasible outcome.

Don’t be discouraged, we are always here to answer any questions you may have about our areas of practice, the process and what we can do for you.

Basic Framework of a Case (not Juvenile Deprived or Neglected Cases)

Pappas Law, OK

1. Initial consultation with Attorney

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2. Attorney drafts initial pleadings

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3. Pleadings given to Client to review and approve
a. Attorney makes changes to pleadings, if needed

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4. Pleadings are filed at the County Court Clerk’s Office

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5. Pleadings are served on the other Party via Process Server, Sheriff’s Deputy or by hand delivering the pleadings, along with a document entitled “General Appearance and Waiver of Service” to the other Party, who is willing to execute the Waiver in a timely fashion and return it to the Attorney or you;

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6. If the address of the other Party is unknown, publication may be required after a diligent search to locate the Party is done

Pappas Law, OK

7. Waiver is filed at the County Court Clerk’s Office

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8. If it is a divorce action, you must take a parenting course approved by your County before the final hearing or entry of an agreed Decree

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9. If a Temporary Order is needed, a hearing before the judge is set
a. We will meet to prepare our Exhibits & go over your testimony

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10. Discovery is drafted and served on the other Party or his or her Attorney

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11. Mediation will likely be scheduled before a final hearing is set, if no agreement has been reached

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12. A final hearing is set or the case is set on a docket to enter an Agreed-to Decree or Journal Entry
a. We will meet to prepare our Exhibits & go over your testimony

Pro Se with Limited Representation

Pro Se means you do everything by yourself without an attorney. The forms that you get from those who are not attorneys are not always accurate for your county or detailed enough to protect all of your rights – especially if you have children! Our legal ethics have changed so we can now offer a limited scoped representation for a flat fee. I would enter my appearance, but only in a limited capacity. You still do all the leg work, but working with our firm in this process, you will learn all of the issues that you need to cover in your final document, receive the needed Decree fully tailored to your situation, plus, learn how to present, file and distribute it.

Legalese in a Nutshell

  • Adoption can be of an adult or a child. It can be a private adoption or it can be one through DHS for a child whose parents’ parental rights have been terminated and now needs a home.
  • Affidavit a document that sets forth facts that the person signing it attests is truthful as if testifying under oath
  • Alimony in lieu of Property Settlement is the amount of money that one spouse pays the other to equalize the distribution of assets and debts that they both will take at the end of the case. For example, if one person ended up with $200 worth of assets and debts and the other person ended up with $100, the spouse with the $200 would pay $50 to the other spouse so that both parties had $150 worth of assets and debts.
  • Answer the pleading prepared by the other side 20 days after having been served with the Petition by the party who started the action
  • Bailiff the Judge’s right-hand person and controls access to the Judge
  • Child Support paid by one Party to the other while a child/ren are under 18 years old or, if the child is a full-time, high school student, then until the child turns 20 or graduates, whichever happens first. It is a mathematical calculation that takes the gross (not take home) monthly incomes of each party, the number of children in this case, the number of children at home that are not a part of this case, the monthly premium for the health insurance of the minor child/ren of this case (excluding the spouses, other children, etc), possibly the monthly amount of daycare expenses, etc to arrive at the amount of Child Support to be paid in this case at this time. Child Support can be changed over the lifetime of the child/ren as children grow up, the gross monthly incomes increase or decrease and/or the other factors listed change. The computation is on a Child Support Guideline.
  • Contempt when one party willfully fails to follow a particular court order. Punishment can range up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine
  • Court Reporter a person trained to take down everything that is said at court. He or she usually sits near the judge and the person testifying to ensure that they get every word. You must pay a fee up front to ensure that one will be available for your hearing.
  • Decree or Journal Entry or Order document prepared by usually an Attorney, presented to the Judge for his or her approval, filed at the County Court Clerk’s Office and served on both parties that contains either the agreements of the parties, the rulings by the Judge after a hearing or a combination of both.
  • Default Judgment order entered by a court after: (a) the service on the other Party is only achieved by publication; (b) the other Party fails to enter his or her appearance or litigate after being properly served and/or (c) the other Party participates in the action for a while, but then stops and can’t be found.
  • Discovery Request a document seeking information from you that you have to answer and get back to the other party in 30 days. You must verify that your answers are truthful as if testifying under oath. The information is sought in the form of Admissions (statements to admit or deny), Interrogatories (questions to answer) or Document Production (documents to give to the other side)
  • Divorcenow called a Dissolution of Marriage
  • Docket a time period set by each Judge to learn the status of certain types of cases (Domestic, Guardianships, Probates, Adoptions, Small Claims, Civil Litigation, Misdemeanors, Felonies, etc) and even hear oral argument by the Attorneys on limited disputes. Some counties will hold the Temporary Order hearing on his or her Domestic Docket; other Counties have a separate docket for Temporary Orders. The County Court Clerk’s Office can advise you on what cases are on any particular docket.
  • Equitable Distribution a fair division of the marital assets and debts of a marriage that may or may not be equal depending on the circumstances of the particular case
  • Guardian Ad Litem – an attorney selected by agreement of the parties or by order of the court to appear for and represent the child/ren in during the pendency of the case all the time advocating what is in the child/ren’s best interests after careful investigation of all matters.

  • Guardianship can be over a minor or an adult & can be over the person, the person’s property or both. It is needed when the Ward’s parents or prior Guardian(s) are found to be unfit or unable to care for the child/ren or the person become incapacitated and can no longer take care of him or herself or his or her property/finances. Title 30 Guardianships can be terminated after the parent(s) are no longer unfit and the Judge finds that it is in the child/ren’s best interests to do so.
  • Home Study required in Adoptions, and now Guardianships, to ensure that your home is appropriate. You will also have to get background checks done as well. There is a fee for each part.
  • Income Assignment a right given to the Obligee (person who receives child support) to have the pay of the Obligor (person who pays child support) garnished and sent to OCSS.
  • Initial Pleadings are the first documents filed in a case. They usually consist of a Petition (setting forth the nature of the action and the relief wanted) or a Motion to Modify (if it is a modification action), a Summons (advising the party served of his or her timeframe to answer) that is often combined with an Automatic Temporary Injunction Notice (setting forth certain rules that must be followed during the case unless waived by the Parties), an Entry of Appearance (the Attorney’s name and contact information), a Coversheet giving contact and personal information about each Party & the Attorney (used by the Court Clerk’s Office, but not made public); and, if needed, an Application for Temporary Orders (request for Temporary Orders) and its Notice & Order or Notification of Hearing (setting the Application (also used to set Motions)). A Discovery Request (see below) could also be filed at the beginning of a case.
  • Joint Custody does not mean that the parties have equal amount of time with the child/ren. It does mean that the parties will make the major decisions in the lives of their child/ren together. Sole Custody means that only one parent will make all the decisions on the care of the child/ren.
  • Judicial Code of Proper Conduct an order of the court outlining rules parents of children should follow
  • Mediation a confidential, out of court setting where the two parties come together with the help of a third person who will facilitate their efforts to communicate with each other to arrive at a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties.
  • Modification Action changing Orders that are no longer valid (a child has aged out so should not be counted when calculating child support or the parties’ incomes have changed from the original Order), or that are no longer working (a standard visitation schedule when one person moved over 300 miles away).
  • Motion a pleading prepared by either party to get a particular issue before the Judge. It is filed and served on the other side. The other side has 15 days to file his or her Response to the Motion.
  • OCSS Office of Child Support Services that will be a necessary Party if your child/ren are on Sooner Care, you receive DHS Assistance with daycare, etc. and that will collect and monitor child support being paid
  • Party or Litigant you and the other Party, usually, – sometimes others are added to the case. The Party starting the action is the Plaintiff or Petitioner and the other Party is the Defendant or Respondent
  • Paternity establishing your rights to a child/ren born out of wedlock
  • Primary, Physical Custodian – is the parent, who has the child/ren the majority of the time.
  • Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) a document used to transfer a certain portion of one spouse’s retirement account to the other spouse. Often, retirement accounts are divided between the parties, with each party receiving a portion, such as ½, of the amount accrued during the marriage (but not before or after) of the other spouse’s retirement account(s).
  • Separate Property personal or real property that you had prior to the marriage, that you inherited, that you received as a gift during the marriage or, probably even, what you purchased after you separated.
  • Standard Visitation Schedule the minimum amount of time that each County has decided the non-primary, physical custodian should have with the child/ren. Some counties have additional ones for Infants or when the parties live far apart.
  • Support Alimony an award of an amount of money from one spouse to the other that can be paid in one lump sum or over a period of time. In a Legal Separation action, it is called Alimony Without Divorce. It is often hard to determine in advance how much Support Alimony may be awarded in any given case. The initial inquiry is whether or not one spouse has a need for it and the other spouse has the ability to pay it. Other considerations can include the age, health, education level or ability to work of the receiving spouse. The same set of facts given to different judges would more than likely result in a different outcome.
  • Temporary Order the opportunity to put certain rules in place while the case is pending, such as: to provide temporary support (child support &/or support alimony), to determine who will remain in the marital home and who will pay what bills while the case is pending, to set a custody and visitation plan, and to address any additional issues that might be needed before the final order is entered. These rules go away when the final Decree or Journal Entry is entered, if they were not included in said final order. Some courts don’t allow Temporary Orders in a modification action.
  • Transcript – the written copy of what the Court Reporter took down for a particular hearing and that must be purchased if you want a copy of it
  • Ward – the person who is the subject of a Guardianship

Tips for Certain Actions

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)

  • You or your spouse must have lived in Oklahoma for 6 months before filing your case
  • You or your spouse must have lived in the County in which you want to file your case for 30 days immediately preceding the filing
  • Once you file your case, you have 180 days to get your spouse served or you have to re-file
  • A Temporary Order can be issued
  • The main issues to resolve in a divorce case without children are: who will take what marital assets & debts; what if any Alimony in lieu of Property Settlement is needed to make those awards equitable; if any Support Alimony will be awarded; and, whether one party wants to change his or her last name;
  • When minor child/ren are involved, a determination is also made of the following: Sole or Joint Custody; how much time the child/ren will spend with each parent, Child Support, and who will claim the child/ren on income tax returns
  • If you have minor children, the earliest that your case can end is on the 91st day after the action was filed
  • If you don’t have minor children and you are in agreement on all the issues, your case may conclude on the 11th day after the Petition is filed, if no Discovery is required
  • Property divisions are final and, except in rare instances, will not be overturned so it is important that each spouse know the extent of the marital assets and debts. Going through the Discovery process is the way that each spouse can learn what the other spouse has, if needed
  • Getting your credit report from all 3 of the reporting agencies will let you know if there are any debts that you may have overlooked that need to be addressed in your divorce
  • If DHS takes custody of your minor child/ren during the pendency of a divorce action, the divorce court no longer has the ability to rule on any of the issues regarding the child/ren until the DHS action is over.
D. Scott Pappas Divorce Attorney
D. Scott Pappas Divorce Attorney

Separate Maintenance

  • Is allowed when married parties are living separately and need certain Orders in place
  • The parties plan to stay married
  • The action can be brought at any time so long as one party is living in Oklahoma
  • The procedure for filing and the issues that can be resolved are the same as a divorce action
  • A Temporary Order can be issued


  • This action is brought in any county where the child/ren reside(s) or is found
    If the child/ren do(es) not live in Oklahoma, then it can be brought in the county in which the Respondent resides or is found
  • Genetic (DNA) testing is allowed to determine a father in some cases
  • You can be the legal father of a child without being his or her biological father and therefore required to pay child support
  • The Uniform Parentage Act governs the time frame in which a Paternity case may be brought and/or a denial of paternity may be made
  • A Temporary Order can be issued
  • The main issues to be addressed include a determination of: Sole or Joint Custody; how much time the child/ren will spend with each parent, Child Support, and who will claim the child/ren on income tax returns
  • The child/ren’s last name can also be addressed, if needed
D. Scott Pappas Paternity Attorney
D. Scott Pappas Divorce Attorney


  • The action is normally brought in the county where the Ward resides or where the proposed Guardian lives, if that person is a member of the Ward’s family
  • Notice of this action must be given to certain extended family members, depending on who is living at the time
  • If the minor child/ren, is at least 14 years old, he or she can appoint his or her own Guardian, who must be appointed if approved by the judge;
  • At least one Home Study and background checks are required, which will require payments to complete
  • A proposed Guardian must qualify, which generally includes that he or she: be a citizen or legal resident of or legally present in US; have been a resident of Oklahoma for 1 year; not be a minor or incapacitated person; be insolvent or have filed bankruptcy in the last 5 years; is not under any financial obligation to the Ward; pass the background checks &/or get court approval of any criminal convictions, protective orders or pending criminal charges; and, not have any other conflict of interest that would keep him or her from being able to act in the best interests of the Ward
  • Depending on the financial resources of the Ward, the proposed Guardian may need to secure a bond
  • The Guardian will have to file with the court an Inventory of the estate of the Ward with the court soon after appointment, if not before, and annual accountings

Child Support Modifications

  • The obligation to pay Child Support is not tied to whether or not you are receiving your visitation
  • Your obligation to pay Child Support dates back to the date the request for Child Support was filed, unless you are involved in a Paternity action, where it can be collected for the 5 years preceding the filing of the case
  • If you earn SSI benefits, your gross monthly income is $0 and you would not be responsible to pay Child Support
  • If you earn SSA disability benefits, your gross monthly income is the amount of your benefit and there is an additional consideration for the amount of Social Security Dependent Disability benefits that your child/ren receive(s) and is given to the Obligee in the Child Support guidelines
  • The amount of Child Support that you are required to pay incrementally decreases as the amount of overnights that you have your child/ren increases over 121 overnights. Most standard visitation schedules do not reach the 121 overnight threshold and do not reduce your child support.
  • Courts can deviate and order a smaller or larger amount of Child Support to be paid that what the Child Support Guidelines set forth, if the reason to deviate is in the best interests of the minor child/ren. However, a Child Support Guideline must be attached to the final Decree stating the deviation & the basis for it. It is against public policy to just agree to no child support without a deviation
D. Scott Pappas Paternity Attorney
D. Scott Pappas Divorce Attorney


  • The case can be brought in the county in which either the proposed adoptive parents or the child reside, Tulsa or Oklahoma Counties or the county in which the termination of the child/ren’s biological parents took place
  • If the child/ren to be adopted is at least 12 years old, his or her consent is needed
  • Biological parents can consent to an adoption
  • If they do not consent, the adoption can proceed without their consent if it is proven that they have failed to maintain a significant relationship with the child/ren and/or failed to financially support the child/ren within a certain timeframe immediately preceding the filing of the action
  • In step-parent adoptions, the Adopting parents must have been married for at least one year
  • Notice must be given to any parent whose parental rights have not been terminated
  • At least one Home Study and background checks are required, which will require payments to complete
  • There is a 6-month waiting period before the final decree can be entered, unless the court waives all or part of it, such as when the child/ren are related to the adopting parents, or is a step-child to one adopting parent or the court finds it is in the best interests of the child/ren to do so
  • The child/ren is/are required to be at the final hearing unless the court waives that requirement


  • Before you attend a Mediation, think about your position on all the topics expected to be discussed in your Mediation, about why that position is important to you and about how you would rank what you hope to achieve in the Mediation from most important to least important
  • To be successful, a party may have to compromise on some issue
  • It is important to bring your supporting documentation to the Mediation so you have all the facts that you may need to help you make a decision on any given issue, such as values of assets, amounts of debt, etc.
  • Don’t mediate unless you are the person who can make the final decision on the issues to be discussed in that Mediation
  • Do have anyone with whom you may need to rely on his or her expertise or support (accountant, family member, etc) available by phone during the Mediation so you can obtain needed help in making any decision
  • You are allowed to take a break from the Mediation to speak to your Attorney, make a call, etc
  • Sometimes, during the Mediation, the Mediator will separate the parties into different rooms (a form of shuttle negotiation) or just want to speak to each side separately (Caucus)
  • Just like settlement negotiations, what transpires in Mediation can not be presented to the judge in a subsequent hearing and neither party can subpoena the Mediator to testify on his or her behalf
D. Scott Pappas Paternity Attorney

Entering the legal system is foreign at first with all the new terms and rules to learn. To make sure all the basics have been covered in your case, contact us by calling 405-707-0077!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do all of my friends pay less in monthly child support?

Your monthly child support obligation is usually made up of up to 3 components (occasionally, a person also owes for back child support, which would be the 4th component): 

  1. Base Monthly Child Support, which is just a mathematical calculation established in statute that is based upon the gross monthly incomes of both parents (no one else).  The more you or the other parent make, the more child support you would owe.  If one or both don’t work, then the gross monthly income would be imputed to that of a full-time, minimum wage-earner, which currently is $1,257.67.  The Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines, based upon each parent’s percentage of their combined gross monthly income sets forth the Base Monthly Child Support due at that time.  Child Support will likely change over the years as your incomes change and/or the time with your child changes.

A parent’s gross monthly income can be reduced, if that parent; (a) is on disability, (b) is currently paying child support on another child, (c) has other children living in the home or (d) has 121 or more overnights with the children. 

  1. Childcare Expense (for only work or education-related time periods) is another component.  It can be added in the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines or a parent can: (a) reimburse the other parent or (b) pay the childcare facility directly. When DHS is providing the childcare, then the “Obligor” (person paying child support to other parent, who is the “Obligee”) may have to still pay a monthly co-pay.
  2. Health-related Expenses for the minor child is the 3rd component. If the child/ren is/are on a parent’s health insurance through his/her employer, you have to calculate the cost to insure just the children (and not the employed parent, spouse or other children on the policy).  That amount is added in the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines and the Obligor’s Base Monthly Child Support amount is increased by his/her percentage of the total monthly cost to insure just the child/ren.

If a child is on Sooner Care, then the Obligor would likely be responsible for Cash Medical set forth on the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines.  Each party is also responsible for his/her percentage of any health-related expenses for the minor children not covered by insurance or Sooner Care, such as co-pays, deductibles, in addition to the monthly premiums.

Your friend and the other parent in that case may not make as much money as you and the other parent in your case, may have a children on Sooner Care, or may not have any childcare expense.

D. Scott Pappas

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Whatever your legal issue is now, Scott is ready to serve you with integrity to achieve your new beginning. Give us that opportunity by contacting our firm today at 855-717-0077 or 405-707-0077.