A Divorce is one of the most life changing events a person will experience. A wide range of issues and concerns arise as the divorce process moves forward. Since everyone’s state of affairs is different, this page will briefly touch on a few of the major points of an Oklahoma divorce. This is NOT intended to provide you with legal advice but rather to give you an overview of the process and some Oklahoma divorce requirements.
Oklahoma Divorce Requirements:
Oklahoma law requires that in order to file for divorce in the State one of the parties to the marriage must have been a resident of Oklahoma for six (6) months prior to filing. This residency requirement is set out Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 102(A) (2002).
Residency additionally determines in which Oklahoma county a person may file a petition for divorce. By statute, a person filing for divorce (“Petitioner”) in Oklahoma may file in the county in which he or she has been a residing for the previous thirty (30) days or the county in which the person’s spouse currently resides. Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 103(A)(1) (2002). This is whats called venue and it assigns the county the case is filed in. Venue is also one of the Oklahoma divorce requirements. So if you lived in Wagoner county for 10 years and have moved to Tulsa 1 month ago you should file the divorce in Tulsa.
Like many other states Oklahoma has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This act controls all jurisdiction concerns between states. Oklahoma divorce requirements look first to your state of residency before addressing any other divorce concerns.
Oklahoma Allows Divorce For Cause:
- Abandonment for one(1) year;
- Pregnancy of wife by another at the time of marriage;
- Extreme Cruelty;
- Fraudulent contract;
- Habitual drunkenness;
- Gross neglect of duty;
- Imprisonment under a felony sentence; and
Oklahoma is a No-Fault Divorce State:
No Fault Divorce sets out the cause as simply “incompatibility.” No-fault divorce allows the parties to get a divorce without finding fault on the part of either party. This means that the process of proving fault through infidelity, abuse, abandonment, et cetera is unnecessary. This allows both of you to focus on important issues of child custody, support, and visitation, property distributions, and spousal support. Rather than focusing on the past circumstances which lead to the divorce, the parties can focus on the future.
Nevertheless, there may be circumstances in which bad behavior is relevant to how property is divides, who recieves child custody, and what child visitation is appropriate. For this reason, it’s vital that you be candid with your Family lawyer so you can receive better help.
The practical result of an Oklahoma no-fault divorce is that either spouse can seek and obtain a divorce. This is done regardless of whether the other party wants it or not. In short, the other party cant stop the divorce. However, Oklahoma divorce requirements continue to be a complex and difficult. Depending on the circumstances regardless of fault the divorce may still lead to aggressive litigation.
With no-fault divorce, when a case is contested, rather than litigating on why a party wants a divorce, focus is on the terms of the divorce. This may include other Oklahoma divorce requirement regarding child custody, support, visitation and spousal support.
Waiting Period Prior to Divorce in Oklahoma:
In order to allow for the possibility of reconsideration and reconciliation, Oklahoma family law statutes require a ninety (90) day waiting period before the divorce will be finalized. This waiting period only applies when there are children of the marriage. The 90 day period begins to run the day the petition is filed. This waiting period can be waived by the court “for good cause,” if the opposing party has no objection. Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 107.1 (A)(1) (2002). Further, this waiting period is not applicable to some “for cause” divorces noted above. Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 107.1 (B).
Additional Oklahoma divorce requirements state in Rule 8 of the Rules for the District Court that no divorce case can be heard on its merits until ten (10) days after the filing of the petition. This includes a divorce without minor children. If there are minor children, thirty (30) days must pass before a hearing on the merits. Okla. Stat. tit. 12, § Rule 8. Similar to the aforementioned waiting period under §107.1, this requirement may be waived by the court in the case of an emergency duly shown by application setting forth “good cause.”
Property Division in an Oklahoma Divorce:
Oklahoma is among the majority of states which utilize the “equitable distribution” doctrine for property division in an Oklahoma divorce. Nine (9) states use the community property rule, which divides marital property equally between the parties. Oklahoma and the remaining states in the nation, divide marital property equitably, which does not necessarily mean equally. Okla. Stat. tit., 43 § 121(B) (2006).
Oklahoma divorce requirements recognize the first step in property division is determining what is separate property and what is marital property. Separate property includes property and money which was owned by the party prior to the marriage. Separate property also includes property which the party inherited, property gifted to the party, and money winnings. Each party receives 100% of their separate property. However, separate property can change from separate property to marital property. Oklahoma divorce requirements recognize this as happening when both types of property is commingled.
Marital property in Oklahoma is that property acquired during the course of the marriage, with martial industry, regardless of who purchased it or in whose name the title is. Martial property additionally includes any money earned by either party during the marriage, unless the funds were generated from separate property. Marital property will divide as closely to equally as the court finds just and equitable. Unlike in community property states, in Oklahoma the court has discretion to divide more property to one party than the other, if fairness so dictates. This is where the representation of an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney can be valuable.
Oklahoma Divorce Trial:
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the issues in a divorce, the Oklahoma Divorce court will decide the issues after a trial on the merits. At the conclusion of a trial, the court will decide how the marital property will be divided, who will pay which debts, and which person will have possession of certain marital property, such as the marital home. The judge will also decide who gets custody of the children, who pays child support and how much, as set out by the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines, the visitation schedule, and who will cover the children’s health insurance. However, the courts highly encourage agreements between spouses. by the courts. When agreement cannot occur, our attorneys will apply maximum pressure in the courtroom to insure that you receive fair treatment.
Remarrying After Divorce in Oklahoma:
An often questioned Oklahoma divorce requirements prohibits a person from remarrying in Oklahoma within six (6) months after the finalization of a divorce. This doesn’t apply only if your remarrying your soon to be former spouse Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 123 (1998). The law goes on to say that its a crime to violate this rule. Not only is it a crime it’s a felony bigamy. Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 124 (1998). In truth this law is ridiculous and I’ve never defended anyone in criminal court for this crime but its the law. One day I believe this law will be stricken down as unconstitutional.
Regardless of Oklahoma law, the United States Constitution provides that every state shall give “full faith and credit” to the laws and judicial determinations of other states. U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1. This provides the opportunity for people divorcing in Oklahoma to remarry during the waiting period. This is though, so long as the marriage occurs in another state and under the laws of another state. Further according to Oklahoma Supreme Court precedent, a marriage conducted in another state during the six (6) month waiting period will be considered valid in Oklahoma and not voidable. Copeland v. Stone, 842 P.2d 754 (Okla. 1992).
However, Oklahoma statutes have addressed this loophole by making it a crime for a person under the six (6) month waiting period to remarry in another state and then co-habitate in Oklahoma during the waiting period. The crime is felony adultery. Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 123 (1998). Whether this crime passes constructional muster, is up for debate, though, as there is no case law addressing this issue.
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