FAQ  |  General

Frequently Asked Questions

I lost my job. Is there any way I can lower my child support payment?

To modify child support in Oklahoma there must be either a significant change of circumstances in income of the child support paying parent, a material change in circumstances in the needs of the child, or both.  An example of a significant change in circumstances in income would be if there is a 200%-400% increase in income. Therefore, if the paying parent’s income increases or decreases drastically, then either party should move to modify child support. Moreover, an example of a material change in circumstances could be a change in the child’s health, such as a recently obtained disability.  Due to the change, more support would be in order to accommodate this new way of life.

My spouse does not have a job. Will his income be $0 on the child support guidelines?

The minimum income for the child support guidelines is a minimum wage at a 40 hour work week.  This does not mean the parent must have at least a minimum wage job and work at least a 40 hour work week.  This means that even if the parent does not have a minimum wage job and does not work a 40 hour work week, the parent’s income on the child support guidelines will be a minimum wage at a 40 hour work week.  Therefore, a parent may not voluntarily under employ themselves to avoid paying child support.  A parent cannot gain immunity from child support by voluntarily under-employing themselves.  In the event a parent does try to under-employ themselves, their income will still either be minimum wage or based on what the person could earn.

I haven’t been able to pay my child support obligation and I’m behind. Is there anything I can do?

Any attempt to deprive a child of support is void.  However, past due child support can be waived, if it is waived by the receiving parent. Waiving past due child support does not waive any portion of future obligated child support.  Future child support can never be waived or contracted away.  The reasoning behind this, is that the child is entitled to support and the child is not a party to the agreement.  Therefore, any agreement to waive child support will only waive the past due child support.

What is the Right to Remain Silent and How do I Use it?

The best way to assert you right without causing undue attention is to say: “I do want to cooperate, but only after I have retained an Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyer, Dustin Compton told me to tell you that he must be present before I do anything else”

When the police ask to speak to you, you have the right to remain silent.  You must know that anything and everything you say to the police will be used against you.  You may talk to the police about the crime they arrested you for, but you are not required. If you do start talking to the police, you may stop talking at any time during the interview or interrogation and ask for a lawyer.  Best practice is to say “I do want to cooperate but only after I have retained an Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer.”  At that point the law enforcement officer must ask no more questions.  You have the right to ask to have an attorney when the police want to question you. If you ask for any attorney the police cannot ask you any questions until you have spoken with an attorney. If you cannot afford to pay for an attorney, the court may appoint a lawyer to represent you if the court believes you do not have enough money to hire one.

You are not required to talk to the police when questioned about a crime. Exercise your rights – Don’t “feel” bad about saying “no, I want an attorney present first” If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your family.

NEVER EVER NEVER give a statement without legal representation. 

The ONLY thing you are going to accomplish by giving a voluntary statement is BAD FOR YOU!  Anything you say likely will be tape recorded or videotaped with or without your knowledge. 

What is the Oklahoma Auto Accident Insurance Claim Process

It is important to contact an Oklahoma Auto Accident lawyer before speaking with an insurance company.  Once you have been in an accident you have entered into a legal battleground where you are significantly disadvantaged without proper legal representation.

An auto accident insurance claim always begins with an accident. If you are involved in a car accident, there are some very important things you should do at the accident scene, first opportunity, call the police and emergency medical personnel. 

After you have contacted your attorney he/she will report the accident with your insurance carrier and begin the process of filing a claim. After submitting, a claims adjuster (someone who works for the insurance company and deals exclusively with claims) will either call, write or email the attorney regarding your claim. He or she will then look at your policy to determine the types of coverage you have, deductibles, and any coverage limits that may affect your claim.  (i.e. they will make legal and contractual decision about whether they are going to pay or not).  If make the slightest error or say something wrong, your claim could be denied.

If your claim is simple (i.e., fault is not at issue, the damage was minimal, and little or no medical treatment was necessary), the adjuster will probably want you to get an estimate for repairs and then send you a check. You and your attorney will have to fill out some paperwork, but you probably will not have to meet with the adjuster in person. If your claim is more complicated (for example, liability is unclear, you do not have enough coverage in your policy, or you do not agree with your adjuster’s settlement offer), then the negotiation process will take longer and a lawsuit may need to be filed.  More often than not, if you are injured and have car damage, the property damage portion will be settled first and then your injury claim will continue until you are completed with medical treatment and care.

After we receive sufficient information to file an insurance claim with the other party’s insurance company, we will begin the same process with them.  The process is drastically different as they have no legal obligation to you whatsoever and their primary goal is to get the claim settled and closed as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Investigating Your Automobile Accident Claim

In relatively complicated injury accident cases your attorney and the insurance adjusters typically must do some investigation in order to adequately assess the insurance company’s liability. The adjuster will comb through your policy and possibly contact witnesses to the accident, the other party to the accident, look at the police report if there is one, take photographs of the damages and scene of the accident and generally investigate your medical expenses by sending out requests to your medical providers for information regarding your treatment. If you are seeking to have medical bills covered, the adjuster will send you a medical authorization form for the release of your medical records.  It is important to always speak to an attorney first before signing any documents or speaking to an adjuster.

After our investigative process, we might hire certain experts such as medical experts, life care planners, accident scene reconstructionist, damage experts, engineers, and visual demonstration experts.  After all the reports are completed we package up into a settlement demand and submit to the insurance company.  In complicated or high damage cases it is not uncommon for us to file a lawsuit before this process.

The Settlement Offer

Once we have submitted the demand packet and the adjuster has investigated your claim and looked at your policy, he or she will typically respond to our settlement demand with an offer to settle you auto accident claim.  How much is your claim worth?  It is impossible to say because each and every case is different.  The damages depend on many factors such as the level and severity of the collision, amount of bodily injuries, amount and duration of medical treatment,  whether any scaring or disfigurement is present, and the extent of nerve damage.   Because there is no exact science to the evaluation of an injury claim, the adjuster will likely have a settlement range.  The settlement offer will tell you what the insurance company is willing to pay on your claim and the initial offer is almost always at the bottom level of this range.  The offer could be all, it could be part, it could be none. This opening offer is typically on the low side. After all, the adjuster’s job is to save his or her employer money. But the adjuster also wants to close a case and thus is typically allowed a settlement range that offers room for negotiation.

Negotiating with the Claims Adjuster

Once your attorney has received an opening offer from the adjuster, keep in mind that opening offers for settlement are almost always on the low side. Then, we generally work to understand what particular point of contention the adjuster has with our demand packet.  Is it a legal issue regarding insurance coverage?  Is it a legal issue regarding medical treatment or injuries?  Or is the insurance adjuster simply trying to get out for a little as possible.  Generally we try several round of negotiation before filing a lawsuit; however, once we reach an impasse with the adjuster we file a lawsuit in the District Court.

If Your Auto Accident Claim Is Denied

If your claim is denied in whole or in part, there could be many legitimate and reasonable reasons. Most have to do with limits in your coverage or police exclusions. You can check the denial letter against your policy to see if the denial seems legitimate or not. If you have not retained us, the insurance attorneys at Compton Law will perform a free insurance coverage analysis for you.   But whatever you decide to do, don’t wait too long to do it. If you sit on your claim for too long, you may lose the right to sue in court to get your recovery. Oklahoma has fairly short statute of limitations (a time limit for filing a lawsuit in court).

What are the different types of child custody in Oklahoma?

The three different types of child custody in Oklahoma are full custody, joint custody, and joint custody with a primary parent.  First, full custody is when one parent has complete control over all aspects of the children. However, this does not mean the other parent would not have visitation rights.  Second, joint custody is when the parents share the children and all major decisions regarding the children.  Major decisions are defined as schooling, religion, healthcare, and extracurricular activities.  Lastly, joint custody with a primary parent allows for the parents to share the child, but the ultimate decision making power for major decisions would lie with only one parent, the primary parent.  The primary parent would still have to consult with the non-primary parent, but in the event they disagreed, the primary parent would have the final say.

I paid for this property with my hard earned income. I should not have to give any of it to my spouse in my oklahoma divorce?

I paid for this property with my hard earned income.  Should I not have to give any of it to my spouse in my Oklahoma divorce?  Many people think this way.  However, the divorce laws of Oklahoma explain that if the money used to buy the property was earned during the marriage, then it is martial active income.  Marital active income includes all job wages earned during the marriage.  Nevertheless, there is always a way to argue that it was purchased with separate funds.  This is called “tracing”.  To do this, the party wanting the property to be separate would have to prove that all money used to purchase the property came from funds that would be considered separate property, such as a checking account acquired prior to the marriage.  If the property is purchased by separate funds, the property is also considered separate property.  Thus, it is not subject to property division in a divorce proceeding. 

How long does a child injury claim take?

A claim or lawsuit for injured or deceased children in Oklahoma is normally brought by one or both of the parents. If the child dies as a result of the injuries then a probate action will be established and the executor of the estate will bring the lawsuit or claim.

Who can bring a child injury claim?

A claim or lawsuit for injured or deceased children in Oklahoma is normally brought by one or both of the parents. If the child dies as a result of the injuries then a probate action will be established and the executor of the estate will bring the lawsuit or claim.

What damages are recoverable when a child is injured?

The Oklahoma civil justice system seeks to compensate injured children for certain losses called damages. These damages normally consist of medical bills, surgeries, rehabilitation, physical therapy, travel and transportation expenses, pain and suffering, and medication. Additionally, Oklahoma law provides for compensation for any permanent damages. Permanent damages might include nerve damage, scarring, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and loss of use of limbs. Moreover, parents may recover for economic damages such as lost income, travel, and other out of pocket expenses.

How is the money distributed when a child is injured?

The civil justice system seeks to compensate injured people for their losses. This is sometimes referred to the “make whole”€ rule, which means the negligent party should compensate the injured for all damages that would put them in the same place as if they had not been injured. Interestingly, this system is based on basic principles set forth in the Bible. Because much of this compensation will go towards payment of medical bills, lost wages, travel, transportation, medication expenses, physical therapy, rehabilitation, in-home care providers, and medical equipment, it will be distributed to other parties soon after the resolution, settlement, verdict. The child victim should also receive additional compensation for pain and suffering, future medical charges, and permanent damages.

In Oklahoma, if an injured child under the age of 18 receives over $1,000.00 (excluding actual payments to medical providers, cost, and fees) then that sum will be placed in a trust account that is overseen by the County Court. Parents would be allowed distributions from the recovery for their out of pocket expenses.



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