How to File for Divorce In Oklahoma

REQUIREMENTS NECESSARY TO FILE FOR AN OK DIVORCE

  • Oklahoma allows no-fault and fault-based divorces.
  • If you are seeking a divorce due to a fault by your spouse, you must prove at least one of the following:
    • Abandonment for at least 12 months
    • Adultery
    • Habitual intoxication
    • Impotency
    • Infidelity of wife leading to pregnancy
    • Fraudulent contract
    • Extreme cruelty
    • Failure to financially provide
    • Felonious imprisonment
    • Insanity lasting at least five years
  • Under Oklahoma law, at least one spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
  • If you have children under the age of 18, you must wait at least 90 days following the filing of the Petition for Divorce to finalize the divorce.
  • If you and your spouse agree to it, you may waive the 90 day waiting period before finalizing the divorce. Oklahoma law prohibits remarriage until six months after your divorce has been finalized.

Grounds for Divorce in Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma allows no-fault divorces based on spousal incompatibility. This is the most popular grounds for divorce in Oklahoma.
  • Oklahoma is one of the few states that continues to allow spouses to seek a divorce if their spouse is at fault for
    • Abandonment for at least 12 months
    • Adultery
    • Habitual intoxication
    • Impotency
    • Infidelity of wife leading to pregnancy
    • Fraudulent contract
    • Extreme cruelty
    • Failure to financially provide
    • Felonious imprisonment
    • Insanity lasting at least five years

HELPFUL TIPS!

  • If your divorce is ucontested, use a service like Mydivorcepapers.com to file your divorce online. They provide a step by step walkthrough of all the paperwork needed to be filled out for your situation. At only $159, they can save you thousands in legal fees.
  • Have more questions, you can receive free legal assistance at Avvo.com.
  • Oklahoma offers an expedited process of divorce if it is uncontested, i.e., you and your spouse agree on the major issues of your marriage dissolution. You must prepare and submit the following documents:
    • Domestic Relations Cover Sheet
    • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
    • Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service
    • Final Dissolution of Marriage Decree
  • If you do go to trial, you should choose a legal representative that will work hard to protect your personal interests during negotiations with opposing counsel as well as in court.

STEP 1:
STARTING THE DIVORCE PROCESS

A divorce proceeding in Oklahoma begins with the submission of a completed Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to a district county clerk.

You must also provide the following documents

  • Domestic Relations Cover Sheet
  • Petition for Divorce
  • Automatic Temporary Injunction Notice
  • Verification
  • Marital Settlement Agreement
  • Financial Affidavits
  • Child Support Schedule
  • Child Support Worksheet
  • Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service
  • Notice of Final Hearing
  • Decree of Divorce

Make at least two copies of all submitted documents. You must file the Petition and supporting documents with the Clerk’s Office of the county court in the county of residence.  You must also pay the appropriate fees at the time of filing.

STEP 2:
LEGALLY NOTIFYING YOUR SPOUSE

Under Oklahoma law, you must provide copies of all documents related to the divorce to your spouse.

  • In person—A licensed, professional process server or county sheriff is the usual means of serving your divorce papers to your spouse. The server must note the time and date of service. Your spouse does not need to sign the papers to satisfy the courts.
  • If you are unable to reach your spouse, you may still proceed with the divorce as long as you made an honest and reasonable effort to serve them. Then you may provide service of Divorce by Publication by submitting an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court and, upon approval, publishing notice in a local newspaper.

Once your spouse has been served, they must respond to the Petition within 20 days. These responses are classified as

Default

If your spouse does not provide any response to the divorce petition, then the judge will assume that the Respondent has abdicated any right to participate in the case. The judge will probably grant many or all of the requests by the petitioner regarding child custody, support and property distribution in the original petition.

Uncontested

If your spouse files a Response with the court but agrees with all of the details in the petition, this is considered an uncontested dissolution of marriage.

Contested

If your spouse files a Counterclaim to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage which disputes various aspects of the Petition, then the court will likely have to step in and make decisions regarding contested issues. The court will issue summons to both parties to attend a hearing, which will identify disputed issues, and if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, you will proceed to a trial.

STEP 3:
CONTESTED OR UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?

Contested Divorce (High Cost)

If you and your spouse cannot agree on the major issues in how your marriage should be dissolved, you will probably need to hire an attorney to represent you in this complex divorce proceeding.

  • In contested divorce cases, you must attend a hearing where the judge will determine the format of the trial, including major issues litigated and what evidence is admissible.
  • After the hearing, an Automatic Temporary Injunction will freeze financial spending and changes to assets.
  • Contested divorces typically involve attorneys for both parties.
  • Most divorce attorneys charge substantial legal fees in a contested divorce procedure due to the added time and effort of participating in a trial.
  • Attorneys are likely to engage in discovery where they will investigate you and your spouse’s claims. This long and costly process may include document requests, subpoenas and witness interviews.
  • Contested divorces may cost several thousands of dollars or more in court and attorney fees, depending on the number and complexity of disputes.

Uncontested Divorce (Low Cost)

In Oklahoma, there are many low-cost alternatives to a contested divorce.

  • If you and your spouse settle your marital issues, you may submit to the court the following documents attesting to your final resolution:
    • Marital Settlement Agreement
    • Parenting Plan
    • Schedule of Visitation
    • Financial Affidavit (both parties)
    • Child Support Worksheet and Custody Schedule
  • After the papers are filed, the judge will schedule a final hearing, no earlier than 10 days later.
  • The judge will schedule a hearing to finalize the divorce at least 90 days following the initial filing if there are minor children involved. Some Oklahoma counties may also require parents to attend a special class for divorcing parents.
  • In many cases, an uncontested divorce is considerably more inexpensive because there is no need to hire an attorney or complete a trial. Many people are capable of filling out the paperwork for an uncontested divorce without legal assistance.

STEP 4:
DO IT YOURSELF OR HIRE AN ATTORNEY?

Self-Representation (Lowest Cost)

If you and your spouse can agree to a settlement prior to going to trial, it will dramatically reduce the cost related to the divorce and minimize stress to you and your family. That is why you should do everything you can to resolve any major conflicts with your spouse prior to beginning the divorce process. MyDivorcePapers.com can offer guidance and the forms necessary to complete this process with minimal cost and effort.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (Medium Cost)

The state of Oklahoma offers couples who are considering a divorce the opportunity to use Alternative Dispute Resolution services. Mediators are independent, conflict resolution professionals with expertise in resolving personal issues. Although they may not have the legal authority to force a couple to remain married, mediators often produce compromises that minimize animosity and expedite the divorce process. A court may appoint or recommend a mediator before or during a divorce proceeding.

Divorce Trial (Highest Cost)

In cases where you and your spouse cannot agree on major issues, the judge will schedule a trial that could go on for several days.

  • Hiring a well-qualified divorce attorney to defend you is sound advice, as your spouse will probably do likewise.
  • In the discovery phase, both legal teams will investigate the allegations made by each party. This may take weeks or even months to complete.
  • At the trial, both sides will argue using evidence and testimony.
  • Even with highly experienced legal representation, there is no assurance of a successful outcome.

STEP 5:
ASSET DIVISION, CHILD CUSTODY AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT

The major points of contention in most divorce cases involve issues of property division, child custody or spousal support.  If you and your spouse fail to come to an agreement on these issues, you should know how Oklahoma courts often rule.

Property Distribution

Oklahoma bases its property distribution upon the principle of equitable division, which allocates property fairly but not necessarily equally. Oklahoma courts consider many factors when dividing marital property (separate property is owned before the marriage and is usually not at dispute) including:

  • Length of marriage
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Liabilities and tax consequences
  • The fair value of the asset
  • Any increase or decrease in value during the marriage
  • How much either spouse contributed to its acquisition
  • The financial situation of both spouses
  • Custody of children
  • Alimony allocation

Once the marital property and debts are identified, they are assigned a monetary value, usually by an independent appraiser.  The court will total the assets minus liabilities to determine the net worth of the couple.

Division of property may occur in several ways. Oklahoma courts favor allowing spouses to divide marital property, but they will step in if no resolution can be had.  Indivisible assets may be provided to one spouse, while another asset of equivalent value is assigned to the other spouse; or they may be sold with profits divided accordingly.

Child Custody

As in most states, Oklahoma determines joint or sole child custody based on the best interests of the child.  The judge will consider many factors including:

  • Parent’s wishes
  • Child’s preferences
  • Immoral behavior
  • Emotional relationship with parents
  • Past instances of domestic violence

Oklahoma does not grant preference based on parent’s gender and race or the form of education the child will receive. If one parent is granted sole custody, the court will decide the other parent’s visitation privileges. The courts generally do not defer to the desires of the child, unless they are at least 12 years of age, and only if they are expressing an “intelligent preference.”

Spousal Support

In Oklahoma, spousal support is not mandatory and a judge may award it depending upon several factors:

  • Future earning capacity of both spouses
  • Each spouse’s age
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Ability to pay alimony
  • Length of the marriage
  • Health of each spouse

Oklahoma allows courts to institute spousal maintenance which is financial support only for the duration of the divorce proceedings. Courts prefer to grant temporary alimony, except in cases where one spouse is unable to work due to poor health and spousal support may go on indefinitely. Most judges prefer to grant alimony from one-third to one-half the length of the marriage. Alimony may be in the form of a lump sum or monthly installments. Oklahoma does not consider fault on the part of one spouse or the other in determining alimony agreements.

An alimony order may be altered or terminated if the recipient begins to cohabitate with a romantic partner.

STEP 6:
FINALIZING YOUR GEORGIA DIVORCE

If a trial is scheduled, then you and your spouse must go to trial to resolve any unresolved issues. Following these courtroom proceedings, the judge will issue a judgment.

If the divorce is uncontested, the court will decide to grant the divorce with or without a hearing. A hearing may be required, but the judge may require only one spouse to appear and confirm the details of the divorce agreement.

After the trial or hearing, the judge will then issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, finalizing the divorce.

Optional Resource: https://oklaw.org/issues/family/divorce

 

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