Under Oklahoma law, there really are only a few main differences between obtaining a divorce and getting a legal separation. These differences mostly have to do with the end result of each process. These include the termination of the marriage with a divorce and continuation of the marriage with a separation, and the requirements with regards to residency and for grounds.
For instance, there is no residency requirement to obtain a legal separation in the state of Oklahoma. However, if you wish to obtain a divorce in Oklahoma you will need to satisfy a residency requirement which consists of at least 6 months in the state and 30 days in the county where you will be filing.
Unlike a legal separation, which does not require you to provide any reasons for filing, you will need to identify the exact reason why you are getting divorced. There are 12 different reasons for divorce that are officially recognized by Oklahoma courts:
- Incompatibility, although this reason also involves the requirement that you attend a program that will educate you about the effects of divorce on a child if you and your spouse have children;
- Abandonment for at least a year;
- Extreme physical, emotional and/or mental cruelty;
- Gross neglect of one’s duty to their spouse;
- Fraudulent contract;
- Existence of a divorce decree obtained elsewhere, which has led to one spouse being free from the obligation while keeping the other spouse married;
- Impotency, which is the physical inability to procreate;
- The wife was already pregnant by another man when she married her current spouse;
- Imprisonment for a felony at the time your are filing for a divorce;
- Habitual drunkenness; and
- Insanity for 5 years wherein the insane spouse has been institutionalized for all 5 years and for whom a poor prognosis of recovery has been properly made; this reason also comes with a residency requirement of living for 5 years in the state before you can file.
What Paperwork Do I Need to File for Divorce in Oklahoma?
To file for divorce in the state of Oklahoma, you have to file a Petition for Divorce and a Civil Cover Sheet with your local court. While you can obtain a form from the court for the Civil Cover Sheet, you will need to create and complete your own Petition for Divorce from scratch.
You do not need to inform your spouse of your intentions while you are considering divorce, even while you are creating your Petition for Divorce. On the other hand, you do have to inform them that you are filing for divorce after you file your petition with the court. This is because you will then need to serve your spouse a copy of the petition.
How Does Community Property Differ from Separate Property According to Oklahoma Law?
When it comes to property distribution in divorce proceedings, Oklahoma adheres to the legal principle known as equitable distribution. This means that judges will split up marital property based on what is fair, as opposed to dividing the marital property equally between the two spouse parties. Marital property is generally defined as any property the couple acquired during the marriage that does not otherwise qualify as separate property.
In Oklahoma, separate property can include:
- Property acquired by either spouse before their marriage;
- Any property that the spouses agreed to keep as separate property in an antenuptial or other similar contract;
- Any Special Monthly Compensation amount that a spouse is receiving from the US Department of Veterans Affairs for service-connected loss; and
- Any Combat-Related Special Compensation that a spouse is given as compensation for their combat-related loss of bodily function or limb loss.
Generally, all of your separate property is considered to be yours and will not be included when the court divides property between you and your spouse. However, the court does have the ability to take some of your separate property and transfer it to your spouse for the support any children you may have had together. This is especially true in the event that your spouse is given primary custody of the children.
What Should I Do if there are Children Involved in the Divorce Filed in Oklahoma?
A divorce that involves children may often have the additional matters of child custody and child support that should be resolved. As previously mentioned, you may need to take a parenting course on the impact of the divorce on the children, if your reason for divorce is incompatibility. You may be required to take the course even if you are getting divorced for another reason, especially if the court is considering granting you full custody.
If you are seeking to obtain joint custody instead of full custody, then you will need to submit a joint parenting plan to the court that describes just how you and your spouse plan to co-parent. Once you have submitted the parenting plan or otherwise made your custody desires known, the court will determine if the arrangement you have in mind is in the best interest of the child.
This is done by considering a number of factors, such as:
- Each parent’s involvement with the daily care and needs of the child;
- The physical and mental health/capacity of each parent;
- Whether either parent has any criminal history;
- The child’s connection with their school and local community.
Once a suitable custody arrangement has been agreed upon, the court will then determine how much, if any, child support you or your spouse will need to pay. If one parent is granted primary custody, then the other parent will likely be required to contribute to raising the child through the means of child support.
Remember, the court can also require you to transfer some of your separate property to provide financial support and assistance to your child. The amount that you may have to pay for child support is calculated based on your gross income; however, although a number of other factors may impact the amount, such as the other parent’s gross income.
Do I Need to Pay Alimony for a Divorce in Oklahoma?
In certain situations, the court may require you to pay spousal support or alimony. This may be required in the form of real property, personal property, and/or money. Whether or not you will be required to pay alimony depends the court’s determination that such financial support would be equitable with regard to the overall situation.
Any requirement for alimony will typically end when the spouse receiving the alimony gets married again or dies. Alimony can also be modified if the spouse receiving alimony moves in with a new significant other, or if the financial circumstances of either spouse change (for instance, with the loss or gaining of a new job).
Where Can I Find the Right Oklahoma Divorce Lawyer?
Since divorce involves so many important aspects of your life such as your finances, you should speak with an Oklahoma divorce lawyer immediately. Your attorney can help you understand the divorce process and will help you assert your rights during such a difficult time.