What to Know About Divorce in Oklahoma
By: Amber Godfrey
No matter where you are in your divorce, you may have questions about what might happen. What will put you in the best position? What might be a struggle? Consulting with legal experts can give you all the answers you need as you transition through your divorce into another stage of life.
When can someone file for divorce in Oklahoma?
At any time during the marriage, provided the state’s residency requirements are met. In order to file for divorce in Oklahoma, at least one spouse must live in the state and have done so for at least six months. They also must have lived in the county in which they wish to file for at least thirty days. Once those residency requirements are met, either spouse may file. Only one spouse needs to want a divorce to begin the process.
What are you entitled to in a divorce in Oklahoma?
First and foremost, you are entitled to a final adjudication that you are no longer married. Beyond that, you may be able to seek maintenance—also called spousal support. You are entitled to a fair separation of all marital property and to keep your own separate property. And you may be entitled to child support if you retain custody of the children of the marriage. What you are specifically likely to get out of a divorce is something a seasoned professional can discuss with you.
Is Oklahoma an alimony state?
Yes. Oklahoma allows for maintenance—which some other states call spousal support or alimony. This is a form of financial support paid from one spouse to another. In order to be eligible for maintenance, a spouse must show a demonstrated need for financial support and that the other spouse has the ability to pay such support.
Does Oklahoma require separation before divorce?
Oklahoma imposes two waiting periods before a divorce can be granted. If the parties have minor children, they must wait 90 days. If there are no minor children between them, the waiting period is only ten days.
Can you be legally separated in Oklahoma?
Yes. A legal separation in Oklahoma can be granted after one party lives in the state for only thirty days—the six month residency period doesn’t apply. If you file for a legal separation, the court will enter a temporary order, either by agreement or after a hearing. This order will cover things like child custody and support, spousal support, and accruing marital debt and property. A separation can give a couple time apart to seek counseling if they wish. A temporary order can be dismissed upon reconciliation or can be turned into a divorce filing if reconciliation doesn’t occur.
Is Oklahoma a separate property state?
Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state. This means that the property a married couple has is not necessarily split 50/50 between them on divorce. Instead, the court will split property based on what is “equitable,” or fair. Also, only marital property owned by a couple in Oklahoma is subject to this distribution—separate property is not. Marital property includes all property that the spouses acquired during the marriage. Typically, gifts to one spouse from someone outside the marriage and inheritances may be excluded, but most other property acquired by either spouse during the marriage will be split fairly between them. Separate property, like that acquired before the marriage and after a separation, is typically given to the spouse who acquired it.
Is marriage counseling required before a divorce in Oklahoma?
If you and your spouse have children under 18, you will be required to undergo some kind of educational program before you divorce. Most state-approved courses are three to four hours long and cover how to parent through divorce; it is not geared toward reconciling the marriage. You will be required to attend, pay for the course, and submit proof of completion to the court before your divorce can be finalized. This is a state mandated requirement. Otherwise, some couples who legally separate may choose to seek counseling, but it is not typically required outside of parenting classes.
To learn more about divorce, visit our Divorce Law page.
Related: Divorce Law
John C. Whitbeck, Jr. is the founder of WhitbeckBennett. His practice focuses on family law, special education law, and mental health law. He regularly practices in several jurisdictions in the Northern Virginia area. He has also been certified as an expert witness in litigation.
To learn more about John Whitbeck, click here.