Divorce in Oklahoma – A Four Step Process
No one in the lovely state of Oklahoma enters into a marriage with a preconceived plan for the ultimate demise of the union. The expectation is that this person will be your lifelong partner. The notion that things will be perfect isn’t something anyone anticipates because every relationship comes with challenges.
Without those, there would be no passion between two individual people. But when these challenges turn into consistent bouts of trials and tribulations, couples begin to look at the option of separation with the hope that time apart will rejuvenate what once was.
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Unfortunately, the moments left to think and explore new possibilities for the future ultimately lead to a desire to dissolve the marriage legally. And divorce in Oklahoma with forms, including the city itself, ranks above many states (3rd highest in 2018 – US Census statistic) with a significantly high divorce rate.
That translates to statistics indicating Oklahoma marrieds are more likely than an average citizen in other regions throughout the United States to dissolve their union.
That can prove discouraging for couples experiencing trouble in the relationship. It’s not meant to. But it does intend to encourage those who have the possibility of divorce looming overhead to prepare by researching the facts for how the process works. No one wants to be caught unaware.
What Constitutes A Divorce in Oklahoma
Dissolution of marriage otherwise referred to as divorce is the severing of the marital contract following legal protocol. A court from the state of residence for at least one of the parties oversees the proceedings. Each state has unique processes and permissible grounds to that particular state.
Oklahoma law dictates, on average, the proceedings can finalize minimally within “190 days” with fees less than $200. The person bringing the petition needs to be a state resident for no less than six months. Go here for details on divorces in this state.
There is no requirement for a separation period before the dissolution of the marriage in this state. The couple can decide to bring fault or no-fault grounds. For those who choose to declare fault, those grounds in Oklahoma that are permissible include:
- Alcohol addiction
- Insanity (must be no less than five years before the filing)
- Abandonment (no less than one year)
- Gross neglect (marital duties)
- Fraud (marital contract)
- Felony conviction
- Pregnancy (upon marriage but not spouse’s)
- Violence/cruelty involving the partner
The spouse making the accusations for at-fault grounds often do so since they are then possibly entitled to a larger share of the marital property or “punitive alimony” if there is proof of fault.
The accused has the option for contesting the allegations for which a court case will occur, resulting in a potentially lengthy and costly process. If the divorce becomes contested because one of the spouses doesn’t want the divorce, the process can still move forward.
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A partner cannot stop their mate from pursuing and receiving a dissolution of the marriage in the state of Oklahoma. The ideal process would be to file a joint non-contested petition making it much faster, but either individual can choose to file on their own whenever they feel it’s time to do so.
As long as it’s considered non-fault, the unwilling partner has no grounds to contest the filing, and it can move forward. If the spouses agree and follow a non-fault filing, the grounds can fall under “irreconcilable differences” or something comparable. The state will allow incompatibility as grounds also.
FAQs On Pursuing A Divorce In Oklahoma
Sadly, the divorce rate in Oklahoma and Oklahoma City is exceptional compared to the whole of the United States, with well over 30% of the married couples finalizing paperwork. And unfortunately, over the past couple of decades, the statistics remain relatively stable.
That doesn’t mean you should be afraid to marry someone or that you should automatically assume your wedded bliss will ultimately end. But it is a good indication for those experiencing difficulties that research is necessary for the processes and educating on essential facts. A few highlights you should be aware of:
Oklahoma is a state that does recognize common law marriage. That means after a specific number of years, the state considers two people married despite there not being an official ceremony or license on record for the union.
All the laws, rules, and regulations that pertain to married couples apply in a common-law marriage and follow similar guidelines if separation of the two people were to occur reminiscent of a divorce.
The person filing for the dissolution of the marriage, referenced as the petitioner, or their spouse, referenced as the respondent, needs a minimum of six months established residency prior to the paperwork filing date.
The state law permits a six-month-long resident of a United States military reservist or army post to file or receive a suit for dissolution of a marriage. The petitioner needs to live in their county for 30 days to sue within that county.
In the state of Oklahoma, divorces categorize as either fault or no-fault. For non-fault divorce, there is a dissolution of the marriage based on incompatibility with neither partner doing anything specific to breach the marital contract.
There is also a possibility to file with grounds. The faults can include: extreme cruelty, abandonment (a year minimum), imprisonment, adultery, insanity, impotency, habitual drunkenness, pregnancy by another man, gross neglect, marriage based on fraud, or a previous divorce not recognized by Oklahoma.
- Equitable Distribution
Property in the state distributes according to a “fairness standard” instead of equally. The court system stringently urges the participants to come to terms on distribution before proceedings, or the court will handle the division.
Any properties that the individuals had apart from their spouse before marriage remains their own once the marriage ends. The court has the option of providing a more significant portion of the marital estate to the spouse with whom the children’s physical custody stays.
The recipient can have a lump sum, or the “obligor” can pay regular payments to the county clerk, who will then send the “obligee” the funds in the mail. Relating to child custody, the court will decide based on the child’s best interest. Oklahoma courts will consider who appears the most likely to allow the other parent contact on a continuous and frequent basis. The gender of the parent is irrelevant.
- Child Support
The “Child Support Guideline Schedule,” specifically the “income share model,” is the determining guideline for the Oklahoma court system’s child support in divorce cases. The system considers both spouse’s gross incomes.
The only times the court makes exceptions is if one of the spouses has a medical or dental policy for the children or if there is joint custody between the two individuals or if one spouse is responsible for the children’s care and pays special circumstances like educational, medical, or transportation.
If there is a comparable difference between incomes, the person with the highest salary will provide the necessary support to the other.
Courts award custody believing that the spouse who receives the grant will most likely follow through with adequate visitation for the other spouse on a regular, continuous cycle.
The awards mean to have the child’s best interests in mind. There is a consideration as to the relationship the children enjoy with the individual parents. The hope of the court system in Oklahoma is that each spouse will proceed with continued rights and responsibilities pertaining to parenthood despite one parent having physical custody.
The court system does not look at gender in any way as a deciding factor when determining custody.
Alimony decisions are something the court makes case-by-case with no definitive rule regarding the length of time a marriage needs to last before there’s an award. If the participants don’t reach an agreement among themselves, the court will then make the decision concerning the amount and the length.
In a typical Oklahoma scenario, the court will award alimony with a 3:1 ratio, meaning, for every three years that a couple was married, there will be one year of this alimony attached. That will vary based on the court system. There could be a different determination.
The payments to a spouse can stop or receive modification based on several factors according to Oklahoma law. If the individual making the payments dies, any alimony awarded terminates.
If the spouse awarded payments voluntarily chooses to cohabitate with another partner, the spouse paying the alimony can petition the court judgment modification for these payments.
In these cases, the court has the capacity to either reduce or possibly terminate the support if there is proof of a substantial change in finances. Find guidance about alimony at https://www.maritallaws.com/states/oklahoma/alimony/.
Spouses living in the state need to abstain from moving into a home with another partner or marrying another person for a minimum of six months following the final decree date.
If one of the ex-partners fails to follow the guidelines and remarries prior to the six-month timeframe, that marriage could be rendered invalid. It needs noting, remarrying following a divorce for someone receiving alimony can result in termination of payments.
Divorce is not something couples anticipate when getting married. It’s devastating for everyone involved and can be taxing to go through, especially if either party decides the proceedings need to be contested, leading to a court trial.
That can lengthen the process and create much stress for the spouses but especially for children if they have them. The ideal situation would be for couples to attempt to work out all circumstances for the better of the family before filing the petition, so there’s no need for anyone to contest the filing.
If you have difficulties doing this on your own, some mediators can assist in your attempts. Going to court isn’t necessarily going to work out in either of your favor. The judge decides what’s in the best interest of the kids, if applicable. That will also apply to the spouses based on the facts from the case.
Learn whether denial of divorces is possible here. In some cases, one of the spouses will end up paying the court costs or attorney fees if the other partner is found unable to do so. The judge will generally consider the delays and the complexities brought by the ex and if these were just.
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Generally, in uncontested cases, each person pays their own fees unless there is an agreement between the two parties that one pays the other’s costs. If a partner doesn’t want the divorce, but the person petitioning files non-fault grounds, the divorce cannot be contested. The unwilling spouse will have no option; the divorce will be granted.
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