Divorce Laws in Oklahoma

By Lisa Sefcik paralegal

If you plan to file for divorce in the state of Oklahoma, certain questions come to mind. How long do you have to live in the state before you can file a petition for divorce? How is child custody decided? What about alimony and child support? Before you file for divorce in Oklahoma, know the pertinent laws of this state.

Residency and Filing Requirements

In Oklahoma, either the petitioner--the spouse who files for divorce--or the spouse who is filed against must have established residence in the state for six months before the filing date. State law also allows a spouse who is a resident of a U.S. army post or military reservation in the state for six months to file for divorce or be sued for divorce. The suit is filed in the county where the petitioner resides, as long as he or she has lived there for at least 30 days. (Ref 1: Sec. 102 & 103).

Grounds for Divorce

The state of Oklahoma allows "no-fault" divorces. A no-fault divorce occurs when the marriage simply breaks down due to incompatibility; neither spouse did anything to break the marriage contract. However, a petitioner can choose to file on grounds of "fault" as well. In Oklahoma, these include adultery, impotency, abandonment (for one year), insanity (for five years), extreme cruelty, imprisonment, habitual drunkenness, gross neglect, when the marriage was devised by fraud, when the wife was pregnant by another man at the time of marriage, or when a prior divorce is not recognized in the state. (Ref 1: Sec 101)

Division of Community Property

In Oklahoma, community property, which includes a couple's acquired assets and debts, is divided equitably by the court in a manner deemed fair. Couples are encouraged to come to a meeting of minds prior to the final decree; otherwise, the court will divide the property for them. The separate property that each spouse owned before entering the marriage continues to be theirs after the divorce. (Ref 1: Sec 121)

Alimony

Oklahoma state statutes are scant on provisions governing alimony. As in most states, issuance of any type of spousal support is done on a case-by-case basis. However, the court may give the spouse with physical custody of children a larger part of the couple's marital estate. This can be paid in a lump sum or through regular payments that the obligor makes to the county clerk, who in turn mails them to the obligee. (Ref 1: Sec. 121 & 136)

Child Custody and Support

When making child custody determinations, the court always considers the child's best interests, be it awarding joint legal custody, joint physical custody or sole custody. In Oklahoma, courts are required to take into consideration which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continued contact with the other, regardless of gender. (Ref 1: Sec 109.3, 112) If one parent is awarded more time with her child, she must provide for the child to the best of her ability, but this is not to say that she must go it alone. Oklahoma state statutes include a Child Support Guideline Schedule, a table that determines how much monthly financial support should be given to a child based on the parents' combined adjusted gross income. If there is a disparity between the two parents' respective incomes, the parent who earns more money may pay child support to the other. (Ref 1: Sec. 118)

Miscellaneous Divorce Laws

Oklahoma makes it illegal for either divorced party whose former spouse lives in the state to remarry within six months of the date of the final decree--or even to live with another person. Anyone who does so is guilty of the felony of bigamy or adultery, respectively. (Ref 1: Sec. 123)

About the Author

Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article