Oklahoma Divorce Laws and How to File
Oklahoma Divorce Laws – If you want a divorce in Oklahoma, it is essential to understand the requirements. Oklahoma divorce laws are similar to other states, but the state soon allows fault-based and no-fault divorces. Generally, fault-based divorces are more complex, time-consuming, and costly than no-fault divorces.
Read on to learn all the steps you can take to secure the end of your marriage in an Oklahoma divorce. If all of this seems overwhelming, you can always find an Oklahoma divorce attorney to help you navigate the process.
Overview of Oklahoma Divorce Law
As noted above, Oklahoma divorce law allows for fault-based and no-fault divorces.
All divorces in Oklahoma must include grounds for divorce – depending on the non-filing spouse’s response, the divorce will be contested or uncontested. If the couple can agree on everything from property division to custody and child support (if applicable), the divorce will go uncontested.
If, on the other hand, there are areas where the two parties cannot agree, the divorce is challenged and will require mediation and possibly a trial.
How to file for divorce in Oklahoma
To file for divorce in Oklahoma, you must meet residency requirements, have grounds for divorce, meet filing requirements, agree on as many issues as possible, and finally, go through mediation or trial. Any outstanding issues should be resolved.
Residency Requirements for an Oklahoma Divorce
One spouse must have lived in Oklahoma for at least six months to file for divorce in Oklahoma. There is one exception – if the grounds for divorce are insanity and the non-filing spouse resides in an institution outside of Oklahoma, the other spouse must have lived in Oklahoma for at least five years before filing.
Grounds for divorce in Oklahoma
Oklahoma allows both no-fault and fault-based divorces. The difference is whether the court would require one spouse to show that the other spouse’s behavior is causing the marriage to end.
No-Fault Grounds for Divorce in Oklahoma
You can expect that a no-fault divorce in Oklahoma will be resolved much quicker than a fault-based divorce. Neither party must argue or prove who was responsible for the divorce. Oklahoma courts can grant a no-fault divorce if one spouse claims the couple was incompatible.
Note that if you and your spouse have a child under 18, you will need to attend a class on the effects of divorce on children.
Fault grounds for divorce in Oklahoma
In an Oklahoma fault-based divorce, one or both spouses must present evidence to the court to prove that the other party caused the divorce by doing any of the following:
- abandonment for at least one year
- extreme cruelty
- habitual intoxication
A fraudulent contract – usually means that one spouse was tricked into the marriage, often by the other spouse lying about having previously (or even currently) married.
Gross dereliction of duty—In divorce, it usually means failure to support a family, but it can also mean failure to fulfill any of the obligations of the marriage.
The wife was pregnant by someone other than the husband at the time of the marriage
Imprisonment of the other spouse in a state or federal penal institution for a felony at the time the petition is filed, the procuring outside of Oklahoma of a final divorce decree that does not release the other spouse from the obligations of the marriage under Oklahoma law, and lunacy for five years – on the ground that it is necessary that the lunatic husband is institutionalized for not less than five years and that three doctors (one of whom must be the superintendent of the institution where the husband or wife is institutionalized) Check out the wife. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
Two out of three doctors should know that recovery is unlikely. Even if the divorce is granted on the grounds of insanity, the filing spouse may still be required to provide financial support to the other.
No-fault divorces for incompatibility are much more common in Oklahoma than fault-based divorces, and most of the fault-based grounds listed above are used most often. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
Filing Requirements for an Oklahoma Divorce
Oklahoma does not provide divorce documents at the state level. Still, nonprofits or your local court clerk can help you obtain the correct records if you represent yourself. If you decide to hire an attorney, an Oklahoma divorce attorney will handle the filing for you.
Unless you file for an uncontested divorce and your spouse is not signing a waiver of service, you point the documents to the courthouse and deliver them to your spouse.
Since many uncontested divorces are filed by both spouses and a release is common, uncontested divorces are known in Oklahoma as exempt divorces.
The documents required to file for divorce are a cover sheet, divorce petition, and summons.
If you and your spouse have already entered into an agreement and the divorce is uncontested, you will need to include the appearance, waiver, and entry of the proposed divorce decree and custody plan.
You must pay a filing fee, which varies by county and changes yearly. The filing fee for Oklahoma County in 2022 was $252.14.
In addition, you must serve your spouse unless exempted from service – this may require an additional cost and must be done by a process server, a law enforcement officer, or certified mail; a Return receipt must be requested. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
Resolving issues and dissolving marriages
If the divorce is uncontested, you and your spouse can submit the following documents to the court:
- a marital settlement agreement
- a parenting plan and visitation schedule (if applicable)
- Financial affidavits from both parties
- Child support worksheet and custody schedule (if applicable)
The judge will review these documents and schedule a final hearing at least 90 days after the initial filing. If both husband and wife agree, the waiting period of 90 days can be waived.
In a contested divorce, the judge will require a preliminary hearing to determine what issues, if any, the parties agree on.
This hearing will also set up the plan for the trial. The judge may order mediation and additional hearings before setting a final trial date. You can expect a contested divorce to take longer than an uncontested one.
Regardless of how long it may take, both spouses are prohibited from remarrying for at least six months after the final divorce is granted. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
Legal Separation: An Alternative to Oklahoma Divorce
In Oklahoma, a couple can remain legally married while living separate and separate financial lives. This is called legal separation.
There is no residency requirement to file for legal separation in Oklahoma. The spouse seeking legal separation has to file a petition for legal separation with the court along with supporting affidavits. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
Division of Property in an Oklahoma Divorce
All property acquired during the marriage is considered marital property (and thus divisible in divorce) unless the spouses can prove otherwise.
Oklahoma courts use the equitable distribution model to determine the division of marital assets in divorce proceedings. This means that the court will attempt to divide the property fairly.
A fair distribution may not be an equal distribution – that’s the difference between equal and equitable.
For example, if one spouse was the stay-at-home parent, the court may award more than half the property to that spouse. The other spouse will have more earning power and less need if the children primarily live with the stay-at-home parent.
Oklahoma courts will honor agreements between spouses regarding the distribution of property, even if the court has divided the property differently.
Courts will consider the following factors in reaching a distribution of property that they believe to be fair and just:
- duration of marriage
- the age and health of each spouse
- Liabilities and Tax Consequences
- the fair value of assets
- Any increase or decrease in value during the marriage
How much did the spouse contribute to its acquisition?
- The economic status of both husband and wife
- custody of children
- alimony allocation
- alimony in Oklahoma
There is a very straightforward test in Oklahoma to determine whether alimony (also known as spousal support) is appropriate – if the support arising out of the marriage is required, and the other party is entitled to support can pay, then alimony is reasonable.
Courts in Oklahoma have focused on “arising from the marriage” language. For example, if one spouse stayed home and took care of the household and children, the other could focus on their education and career.
There is no set rule on how alimony is determined in Oklahoma. Each court has wide discretion, and the amount and terms of any relief are determined case-by-case basis.
Alimony will end, however, if either party dies or if the recipient remarries. However, the recipient may file with the court for support payments to continue after remarriage if they can show that the need remains and that continued charges would be appropriate. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
Oklahoma Child Support and Custody Laws
Child support and custody cases in Oklahoma are decided based on the child’s best interests.
Oklahoma uses a statutory formula based on the estimated cost of raising the children, the income each parent earns, the custody arrangement, and the number of children between the parents and outside the relationship.
Actual amounts can vary widely depending on the factors at work in each case. Still, a general overview and calculators that can help estimate child support in specific topics can be found on the Oklahoma Human Services website. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
Custody and visitation
In a divorce proceeding in Oklahoma, the court must decide on physical and legal custody of the children. Physical custody is physical possession of the child – where the child lives daily.
Legal custody is the right to decide for the child, such as where the child goes to school or what treatment options are appropriate for the child’s medical needs.
Oklahoma allows sole or joint custody – both legal and physical. Courts in OK often award “custody” to one or both parents without specifying what kind. In that case, it means both physical and legal custody.
It is possible to award custody to a non-parent in Oklahoma. However, this is rare, and the non-parent must demonstrate to the court that neither parent is a fit while also showing that they represent a better substitute.
Getting custody as a non-parent can be extremely challenging, and it is best to work with an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney to have the best chance for success. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce in Oklahoma?
The law requires a waiting period of at least 90 days between the initial filing and the hearing, where a divorce can be granted if there are children and 10 days if there are no children. Hearing can be waived in an uncontested divorce, but only if no minor child exists.
However, no period of separation is required before filing for divorce.
It’s worth remembering that, even after a divorce, Oklahoma requires a six-month wait before either party can remarry. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
Can I date while going through an Oklahoma divorce?
Dating during your divorce in Oklahoma is not a good idea. OK is one of the few remaining states where the criminal penalty for adultery is still on the books. It’s punishable by up to five years in prison.
The law is not used much anymore, but it is still the law of the land.
It’s unlikely that a court will penalize you for dating in a divorce proceeding, but Oklahoma courts have a lot of discretion. If dating is important, consider a legal separation while the divorce is pending. (Oklahoma Divorce Laws)
How long do I have to pay alimony in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma alimony is extremely flexible.
Courts have wide discretion in determining whether spousal support is appropriate and, if so, how much and for how long. There are no hard and fast rules in this regard. You’ll have to pay alimony until the court decides – you may have to keep paying after your ex remarries.
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