Getting divorced is often an emotional decision. Even so, there are practical matters to consider, such as how and where to file, as well as how to divide marital property. The state of Oklahoma has already considered many of these things and has laws regarding how they must be accomplished.
Representing Yourself in a Divorce
Although you are allowed to get a divorce without legal representation, it may not be a good idea unless your case is very simple. Laws change often and it is not always clear which ones apply in a specific case. Even in an uncontested divorce, there may be legal consequences or tax implications surrounding issues such as child support, alimony and property division. An experienced divorce attorney can ensure you understand all the terms of your divorce and what they mean for you going forward.
Filing for Divorce
You must have lived in the state for at least six months before beginning divorce proceedings. You or your spouse must also have lived in the county in which you file for at least 30 days.
Your initial filing will be your Petition for Divorce. After filing, you must serve your spouse with copies of your filing. You may serve them yourself, mail them or hire someone to do it.
As your case moves forward, you may need to file additional documents, depending on your circumstances.
If children are involved, the state requires a waiting period of 90 days from your filing date before your divorce can be finalized in most cases. Without children, there is a 10 day waiting period. A contested divorce can take much longer than this.
Types of Divorce
Oklahoma allows you to file for fault or no-fault divorce. In both cases, you do need to include grounds (a reason) for your divorce, but in a no-fault divorce, you do not need to blame your spouse for doing anything wrong. You may simply state that your marriage is broken and cannot be saved.
In a fault divorce, you allege wrongdoing on the part of your spouse. Acceptable grounds include:
- Extreme cruelty
- Abandonment for at least one year
- Gross neglect
You must be able to show the court that the grounds you cite are true. Your spouse may also contest the grounds you cite.
Equitable Property Distribution
Equitable property distribution means that your marital property (including debt) is divided fairly between you. This may mean equal shares but does not have to. The state encourages spouses to come to an agreement outside of court, but if you cannot do so, it will decide what is equitable.
If children are involved, equitable could mean the person with physical custody of the children gets a larger share.
Other factors the court may consider in determining what is fair include:
- Each person's contribution to the marriage
- How long the marriage lasted
- Each spouse's future earning potential
Only marital property must be divided. Anything you owned before the marriage usually remains yours after the divorce, with a few exceptions.
Remarrying After Your Divorce
If you plan to get married after your divorce is final, you may have to do so in another state. Oklahoma requires you wait at least six months after your divorce is final before getting married. Exceptions include if your former spouse has died or you are remarrying your former spouse.
Help from a Divorce Attorney in Oklahoma
If you have specific questions about your divorce, it is a good idea to get advice from a divorce lawyer. The information presented here is very general and may not cover situations you may encounter with your own case.