What to Expect in Oklahoma Family Law in 2021
By: Amber Godfrey
Practicing (almost exclusively) family law in Oklahoma for going on 13 years, I’ve come to notice trends and “upticks” in certain cases during the year. For example, it comes as no surprise to the domestic litigator when the phone starts ringing just before (and, often, after) Spring Break, Summer Break, Fall Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas / New Year. People seem to forget that the Court Order really does matter—that them getting children for Spring Break last year means they do not get it this year, so maybe they should not discuss the upcoming ski trip with the rest of the family in front of them. Sage advice.
But, let’s face it, if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that predictability is out the window, right?
If anything, it just means that what is to be predicted has changed in many respects. We all saw it: mass job loss, rent or mortgages that could not be paid, virtual schooling where often neither parent is equipped to teach their children (be it a time issue if the parent(s) is working, a connectivity issue if the children do not have access to a computer or internet, and so on), illnesses—and the fear of them—rising daily, anxiety and depression skyrocketing, store and restaurant closures, shortages of necessary things (empty toilet paper aisles ring a bell?)…and the list goes on and on.
So, what does that mean for 2021? Did anyone else dream of the day January 1st would hit, and we would get to punch the “reset” button? Did anyone actually feel a difference?
In looking at the year ahead, as a family law practitioner, I cannot help but see it through the lenses of the last year. (Hindsight is 2020, right? [Mostly] no pun intended…) Being able to get an idea of what occurred over the last year—including trends in my cases and the temperament of my judges—helps me navigate my clients to a better “this year” in terms of settlement, negotiations, and, if necessary, trial. It is this “foreshadowing” that I believe helps hone our skills as trial attorneys and legal counselors to better manage our clients’ expectations, keep them grounded, keep the children’s best interest at the forefront, protect their assets, and walk people through some of, if not the, worst times in their lives.
That brings me back to this year. What does this year possibly have in store for us when looking through the lens of 2020? Well, several things come to mind, based on what several colleagues and I have identified as the trends seeping in from last year,
much most of which is influenced by COVID-19.
Stay tuned for the rest of this blog series, What to Expect in Oklahoma Family Law in 2021, to be released this month.
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Ms. Godfrey has been practicing law for 13 years. Prior to joining WhitbeckBennett, she founded her own private practice in 2016 in Oklahoma City so that she could serve her clients in Cleveland, Oklahoma, and Canadian Counties. She focuses on family law, which includes divorce, child support, custody modifications, Guardian ad Litem, adoption, and guardianships, as well as estate law which includes estate planning, probate.