How to File for Divorce in Oklahoma?

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 What is the Difference between Divorce and Separation in Oklahoma?

Under Oklahoma law, there are just a few differences between legal separation and divorce. These include:

  1. With separation, the marriage continues. With a divorce, it ends, of course.
  2. To file for divorce in Oklahoma, you must have lived in Oklahoma for at least the last six months and at least 30 days in the county where you are filing for divorce. A legal separation has no residency requirement
  3. A request for a legal separation does not have to provide any reason for the separation. In a divorce, you must provide a reason. There are 12 valid reasons for divorce in Oklahoma:
    • Abandonment for at least 1 year
    • Adultery
    • Extreme physical, emotional, or mental cruelty
    • A fraudulent marriage contract. This means one spouse was duped into the marriage. This often means that one spouse was previously married (or worse, still married) and did not disclose that to the other spouse
    • Gross neglect of one’s “duty to their spouse”
    • Impotency
    • One party already obtained an out-of-state divorce that isn’t valid in Oklahoma, which leaves one spouse divorced and the other spouse still married
    • The wife was pregnant by another man at the time of the wedding
    • One spouse is imprisoned for a felony
    • Habitual drunkenness
    • Some cases of insanity. The insane spouse must have been insane for at least 5 years and been institutionalized.
    • There must also be a properly made poor prognosis of recovery. Furthermore, you can only file for divorce after you have lived in Oklahoma for at least 5 years.
    • Incompatibility. If this is the reason you give and you have children, you must attend an educational program about the effects of divorce on a child

What Paperwork Do I Need to File for Divorce in Oklahoma?

To file for divorce in the state of Oklahoma, you have to file the following documents with the local family law court:

  1. Petition for Divorce, with a civil cover sheet
  2. Divorce Information Sheet
  3. Affidavit
  4. Separation Agreement (this is a statement of your assets and debts)
  5. If you have children, there are various additional documents required concerning custody, visitation, and child support and how it was calculated
  6. Final Decree and Judgment of Divorce

More documents may be required, depending on the particular facts of your case.

As an aside, you do not need to inform your spouse of your intentions while considering divorce, even while creating your Petition for Divorce. On the other hand, they will find out about it after you have filed for divorce because the next step in the divorce process is to serve a copy of the Petition for Divorce on them. They must file responsive papers, including an answer to the Petition, within 20 days of receiving the Petition for Divorce.

How Does Community Property Differ from Separate Property According to Oklahoma Law?

Like most states, Oklahoma operates as an equitable property state. Instead of dividing up the assets a couple owns equally between the spouses (that is what a community property state does), judges will divide the assets in a manner that the judge considers fair to both parties. That may mean that one part receives more property than the other does.

The judge can make provisions for all “marital property.” 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 a prenuptial agreement or another similar contract
  • Any “Special Monthly Compensation” amount that a spouse is receiving from the US Department of Veterans
  • Affairs for service-connected loss
  • 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 can take some of your separate property and transfer it to your spouse for the support of any children you have together. This is especially true if your spouse is given primary custody of the children and needs financial support.

What Should I Do if there are Children Involved in the Divorce Filed in Oklahoma?

A divorce that involves children will need to address custody and child support. As previously mentioned, if your ground for obtaining custody is incompatibility, you will need to take a parenting course on the impact of the divorce on the children. You may be required to take the course even if you are getting divorced for another reason, especially if the court considers granting you full custody.

If you are seeking to obtain joint (shared) custody instead of full custody, then you and your spouse 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 child’s best interest.

This is done by considering several factors, such as:

  1. Each parent’s involvement with the daily care and needs of the child
  2. The physical and mental health status of each parent
  3. Whether either parent has any criminal history
  4. The child’s connection with their school and local community
  5. If the child is a teenager, the court might take into account the child’s personal preference

Once a suitable custody arrangement has been agreed upon, the court will determine how much child support you or your spouse will need to pay. If one parent is granted primary custody, the other parent will likely be required to contribute to raising the child through 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 will have to pay for child support is calculated based on your gross income. It also considers any special needs of the child that require money to address, the other parent’s income, and the number of days you will have physical custody of the child in a month.

Do I Need to Pay Alimony for a Divorce in Oklahoma?

In certain situations, the court may require you to pay spousal support (formerly called alimony). Whether or not you will be required to pay alimony depends on the court’s determination that such financial support would be equitable concerning the overall situation. Although spousal support is typically ordered as monthly payments, other creative ways can be arranged. For example, the paying spouse could give the receiving house a piece of real estate and be free from any future payments.

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 and can get complicated, so 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.

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