A Guide to Divorce in Oklahoma
Just like every marriage is different, couples seeking a divorce in Oklahoma will encounter a unique set of circumstances to formally end their relationship.
Divorce is not easy, and you will encounter financial and emotional challenges along the way, even if you are ready and motivated to go through the process.
In this guide, you’ll get educated on exactly how divorce works in Oklahoma .
Specifically, we’ll cover the differences between divorce and legal separation, types of divorce, overview of the process, how much it costs, and a whole lot more.
So if you want to make sure you’re fully prepared for your divorce in Oklahoma, we’re here to help.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
- The differences between divorce, annulment and legal separation
- What are the grounds for divorce in Oklahoma?
- Deciding what kind of divorce you will go through
- The process of filing for divorce
- How to complete proof of service
- Filing for a divorce online
- Filing for divorce in Oklahoma without using a lawyer
- How much does divorce cost in Oklahoma?
- How long does it take to get a divorce?
- Should I retain the services of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst?
- Bifurcation of Marital Status
- Can I cancel, refuse, contest, stop or reverse a divorce in Oklahoma?
- What is a divorce decree?
- What is a divorce certificate
- Changing Your Name
- Bonus: Recommended Resources for a Better Divorce
The differences between divorce, annulment and legal separation
Married couples can end their marriages by divorce or annulment in Oklahoma. Legal separation is also permitted, but a couple will still remain married after this action takes place.
Legal Separation. Legal separation does not terminate a marriage, but it is an actual court action that requires spouses to handle parts of a marriage that would also take place in an actual divorce occurred. For example, spouses must address a division of assets, child custody, and support be decided as if a marriage were actually being dissolved.
Legal separation requires the execution of a document that is legally binding and signed by both spouses.
The separation may either be temporary or for an unlimited period and can be dismissed if the parties reconcile or decide to convert into a divorce.
This type of action may give couples a much-needed time out that allows them to try and resolve their issues in a less combative environment.
Spouses may also choose legal separation for religious or financial reasons. This might include being able to keep health insurance or by continuing to file as a married couple on tax returns.
If a person is not a U.S. citizen, and they get a divorce, they run the risk of deportation. But with a legal separation, a noncitizen can still stay in the country even if they don’t live with their spouse.
Annulment. Annulments mean that you want to have your marriage declared null and void in Oklahoma. This is the same as if you were never married. But you can only receive an annulment if you meet certain criteria.
Your marriage must meet one of the following conditions:
- Age – either party was under the legal age for marriage.
- Mental capacity – either party lacks the mental capacity to understand what he or she was doing.
- Fraud – either party was persuaded to marry under fraudulent circumstances.
You can’t get an annulment simply because you’ve only been married a short time, or because you have not consummated the marriage.
You cannot obtain an annulment in Oklahoma if the circumstances that made the marriage voidable in the first place no longer exist. For example, if either spouse was underage at the time they got married but that is no longer the case, then the grounds for annulment based on that fact will no longer apply.
Divorce. In Oklahoma, divorce is officially known as a dissolution of marriage. All ties are severed, assets are divided, custody and alimony issues are resolved, and each spouse goes their separate way after a final decree is issued.
What are the grounds for divorce in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma allows for both no-fault and fault-based divorces.
With a no-fault divorce as your stated reason, you only need to acknowledge that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
The fault-based grounds for divorce in Oklahoma are:
- Abandonment for 1 year
- The wife was pregnant by another at the time of the marriage
- Extreme cruelty
- Fraud in connection with the marriage
- Habitual drunkenness
- Gross neglect of marital duty imprisonment for a felony
- Confinement for incurable insanity
Sometimes people choose to go through the more complicated fault-based grounds because if may give them an advantage in securing better terms for alimony, child custody, and a division of assets.
Understanding what your divorce options are
Understanding the different divorce process options is a critical first step in moving forward with a divorce in Oklahoma. In fact, after the decision to divorce, your choice of how you will get divorced is the most important decision you will make.
So, what are your divorce options?
Do-It-Yourself Divorce: What I like to call the kitchen table divorce. This one is pretty straight forward. You don’t hire any professionals and attempt to resolve all your differences with your spouse. The biggest downside is you don’t know what you don’t know. I’d steer clear of this approach unless you don’t have kids or any money.
Online Divorce: A far superior choice to DIY divorce. Navigating the divorce process and legal procedures can be a minefield. A good online divorce platform removes the guesswork. Through guided interviews, you’ll complete the forms while getting educated on the key legal issues in the process. This can be a great option if you have a relatively straightforward situation and you’re on the same page with your spouse.
Litigation: The default option and also the most expensive. If you and your spouse can’t agree on one of the other options, then you’re headed for litigation. Litigation is an attorney-driven process. While the majority of cases settle before going to trial, that doesn’t mean litigation won’t wreak havoc on you and your kids.
Sometimes it’s the only viable option, however. If your spouse has a high-conflict personality (narcissist, borderline, etc.) or there is domestic violence, litigation might be your only option. It’s also the right choice if your primary objective is to punish your spouse. As tempting as that might be, I encourage you to think about the big picture.
Mediation: With mediation, you and your spouse retain a neutral professional (typically an attorney) to help facilitate agreement. The mediator will help you brainstorm options, understand each other’s perspectives, and make compromises to reach a resolution that you and your spouse can both live with.
Collaborative Divorce: Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t just mean that you and your spouse are going to work out your divorce “collaboratively.” There’s much more to it. Collaborative divorce is a structured process that takes a team approach. Divorce is much more than a legal process. It’s about money, kids, and emotions.
That’s why a Collaborative team includes collaborative lawyers, a divorce coach, and a neutral financial specialist. Unlike any other process, everyone commits not to go to court. The idea is that this removes the threat of litigation which fosters creative solutions and interest-based negotiation. It’s far and away the most supportive type of divorce.
Divorce is anything by cookie cutter. That means there isn’t a “best” option across the board – but there is a best option for you.
That’s why we put together this comprehensive guide on The Types of Divorce to help you understand the pros and cons. Be sure to check it out if you still weighing your options.
What is the process of filing for divorce in Oklahoma?
You do have several different ways you can proceed, but many of the basic processes are the same regardless of what you decide to do.
Gather important information. One of the smartest things you can do is to get organized early on in your divorce. There will be a lot of documents you will need to gather that are not only required, but to also help your case to the highest degree possible.
Before you jump in to collecting financial information, take the following steps:
- Open a new checking and savings account in your name alone.
- Open a credit card in your name alone.
- Order a free credit report.
- Make a list of all the assets and liabilities that you’re aware of. Include any memberships, reward points, and other perks that may be considered as assets.
Okay, now it’s time to start gathering your information. Here’s a short-list of what you need:
- Tax returns (including W-2’s, K-1’s, and 1099’s) for the last 5 years
- Pay stubs for the last 3 months
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Retirement account statements
- Pension plan statements
- Grant notice for stock options, RSUs, etc.
- Investment account statements
- Life insurance policies
- Mortgage statements
- Real estate appraisals
- Deeds to real estate
- Car registration
- Kelley Blue Book printouts (“private party value”)
- Car loan statements
- Social security benefit statement
This is only a partial list. To see exactly what you should focus on gathering, we’ve prepared a Divorce Information Checklist that you can check out here as part of our article The Ultimate Divorce Checklist: The Information You Need to Prepare for Divorce.
Complete the initial paperwork. You will need to complete and submit several documents as part of your Oklahoma divorce. In addition to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, depending on your circumstances, you may also need to provide:
- Domestic Relations Cover Sheet
- Petition for Divorce
- Automatic Temporary Injunction Notice
- Marital Settlement Agreement
- Financial Affidavits
- Child Support Schedule
- Child Support Worksheet
- Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service
- Notice of Final Hearing
- Decree of Divorce
File your forms. To file for divorce in Oklahoma, either you or your spouse must be a resident of Oklahoma for at least 6 months. You can file in the District Court in the county where you have resided for at least 30 days, or in the county where your spouse resides.
Completing proof of service in Oklahoma
To officially notify your spouse of your intention to divorce him or her, you must provide copies of all documents related to the divorce to your spouse. This is called proof of service.
In Oklahoma, this is best accomplished by using a professional process server or a county sheriff. The server will complete the service and complete a proof of service document that will be filed with the court. A spouse does not need to sign any papers for the proof of service to be legal.
After reasonable and diligent attempts, if you can’t find your spouse to provide them with documents, you can then proceed with proof of service through Divorce by Publication.
You will need to submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court and after they approve it, you will publish a divorce notice in a local newspaper.
After proof of service, your spouse has 20 days to respond to the complaint. They can either respond with a default which is no response to the petition, an uncontested response, or a contested response.
Can you file for divorce online in Oklahoma?
There are services that can assist you in completing the documents you’ll need to submit for a divorce but at some point, you will need to appear in person to file your divorce paperwork at a county courthouse. You will also need to attend a court hearing at a later date to finalize the divorce.
Our favorite resource for a fast and effective online divorce is: 3 Step Divorce.
3 Step Divorce checks all the boxes that make an online divorce worthwhile.
They aim to make it easy – and they certainly deliver.
From step-by-step instructions to unlimited live support, here are just a few of the reasons why 3 Step is our #1 recommended online divorce resource:
- $299 flat-fee with no hidden charges
- Monthly payment options as low as $84/mo
- Initial questionnaire takes less than 1 hour
- Library of free tools and resources
- Unlimited access to support agents by phone or email
- Immediate access to completed forms
- Assurance of 100% court-approval (or your money back!)
3 Step Divorce also boasts the highest customer rating in the industry (4.6 stars based on 1,575 reviews).
You can learn more by reading our 3StepDivorce review.
Better yet, you can Start Your 3 Step Divorce NOW (as low as $84/month).
Can you file for divorce in Oklahoma without using a lawyer?
Yes. You do not need to have legal representation which is what some people choose to do if they are seeking an uncontested divorce. However, if there are unresolved issues or you and your spouse do not have a high level of trust, it is probably advisable to seek protection by using an attorney to assist you.
How much will it cost?
Fees vary slightly from county to county but expect to pay about $180 to $185 depending on where you file. There will be additional fees if you have any minor children. In addition, you’ll also need to pay a fee to have the divorce papers served on your spouse by a process server or a sheriff.
If you can’t afford to pay the fees, you can seek a waiver by completing and submitting a Pauper’s Affidavit.
A judge will review the request and decide whether or not you will have to pay the fees.
If you need to retain an attorney, expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $500 per hour of representation. An attorney may also ask for some kind of retainer up front as well.
When you use a mediator or an arbitrator to resolve your issues, expect your costs to be somewhere between $3,000 and $7,000, and possibly more.
Fully contested divorces are expensive, and you can easily rack up thousands of dollars in legal fees depending on how contentious the divorce is, what kind of assets are involved, and how much disagreement there is with child custody and support issues.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Oklahoma?
After papers are filed with the court, it can take as little as 10 days to have a final dissolution approved in an uncontested divorce, as long as no minor children are involved.
With children, the state requires you to wait 90 days from the date that the divorce petition was filed before it can issue a final divorce order. This 90-day waiting period allows parents to attend marriage and family counseling to see if there is any way to resolve differences and avoid the end of the marriage
The judge can also waive the 90-day waiting period if:
- Neither party objects
- The court has “good cause” to believe that after counseling, it is still unlikely that you will ever resolve your difference.
The law allows the court to waive the 90-day waiting period under the following conditions pursuant to 43 O.S. § 107.1(b):
- Extreme cruelty
- Abandonment for one year or longer
- Habitual drunkenness
- Imprisonment on felony charge, state or federal
- The procurement of a final divorce decree without this state by a husband or wife, which does not in this state release the other party from the obligations of the marriage.
- Internment in a state institution for the insane for a period of 5 years or more
- Conviction of child abuse
- A child of either party has been adjudicated deprived, pursuant to the Oklahoma Children’s Code, as a result of the actions of either party to the divorce and the party has not successfully completed the service and treatment plan required by the court.
Working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
Every divorce has financial issues that need to be addressed. In some cases, a family law attorney can provide all the information you need.
But if you have a degree of financial complexity, you should consider working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA).
A CDFA can help you understand the long-term impact of your decisions so you can weigh the pros and cons. In fact, working with a CDFA can actually lower the cost of your divorce (by giving you more clarity to make decisions which cuts down on the back-and-forth negotiations).
Bifurcation of marital status
Bifurcation of marital status in Oklahoma means that both parties can legally divide their divorce into two stages.
The first part satisfies the grounds for the divorce meaning a couple is no longer married. The second part addressed all of the outstanding issues that may have been holding up the process, such as child custody and support, alimony, a division of assets, and so forth.
Oklahoma courts will allow for a bifurcated divorce in some instances, but it is not common. Court view it as judicial inefficiency and a disincentive to finalize a pending divorce.
It can also be more expensive and drag out the process for a much longer time period.
Can I cancel, stop or reverse a divorce in Oklahoma?
No. If your spouse wants a divorce from you, ultimately there is nothing you can do to stop it.
If the process has started and your spouse has a change of heart, you can seek a dismissal of the divorce complaint. That will end the divorce action.
But if the divorce has already been finalized and you want to reconcile with your spouse, you will need to get married again.
What is a divorce decree?
An Oklahoma divorce decree is the final order signed by a judge that provides all the details and terms of the divorce action and settlement. After it is signed, you are officially divorced. It will spell out in detail the terms of alimony, child custody and support, a division of assets and any other issues that need to be addressed.
What is a divorce certificate?
A divorce certificate only contains basic information about a divorce, such as when and where it took place. It does not contain specifics related to the details of a settlement to the same level of detail as a divorce decree.
In Oklahoma, marriage and divorce records are maintained and issued by the Clerk of Court in the county of issuance. Contact the Clerk’s office for details on how you can get a copy of a divorce certificate.
Changing Your Name
When preparing your divorce forms, you will be presented either an option to either restore your former name or request a court order for changing names.
The name change will be granted as part of your divorce. You may either receive a separate court order making your name change official, or else have your name change recorded on the final divorce decree. Either of these documents are accepted with all US agencies and organizations as evidence of your name change.
Just having a court order does not mean your name change has taken effect. You will need to contact all of your organizations to request your records are updated.
It’s time-consuming to contact each company and figure out what to send where, so we recommend using an Easy Name Change kit to cut out the 10+ hours of research and paperwork that follows.
Recommended Divorce Resources
There are a lot of divorce resources that make big claims. We’ve tested a bunch of them. Most fall short. A few stand above the rest.
These are the tools and resources we’re excited to share with you because we know they can help you have a better divorce.
If you’re looking for recommendations in any of the following areas, we’ve got you covered:
- Online divorce
- QDRO preparation to divide retirement plans and pensions
- Online dating
- Masterclass on ninja tricks to negotiating with a narcissist
- Co-parenting apps
- Personal finance and budgeting apps
- Best place to sell your engagement ring
- And a whole lot more