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Oklahoma Divorce Laws
Residency and Filing Requirements:In order to file for a divorce in Oklahoma, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements are as follows:
Either the plaintiff or the defendant in an action for divorce must have been an actual resident, in good faith, of the state, for six (6) months next preceding the filing of the petition.
Provided, any person who has been a resident of any United States Army post or military reservation within the State of Oklahoma, for six (6) months next preceding the filing of the petition, may bring action for divorce or may be sued for divorce. (Oklahoma Statutes - Title 43 - Sections: 102 and 103)
Grounds for Filing:The Petition for Divorce must declare the appropriate Oklahoma grounds upon which the divorce is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The divorce grounds are as follows:
The district court may grant a divorce for any of the following causes:
1. Abandonment for one (1) year. 2. Adultery. 3. Impotency. 4. When the wife at the time of her marriage, was pregnant by another than her husband. 5. Extreme cruelty. 6. Fraudulent contract. 7. Habitual drunkenness. 8. Gross neglect of duty. 9. Imprisonment of the other party in a state or federal penal institution under sentence thereto for the commission of a felony at the time the petition is filed. 10. Insanity for a period of five (5) years. (Oklahoma Statutes - Title 43 - Sections: 101)
Filing Spouse Title:Petitioner. The Petitioner is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.
Non-Filing Spouse Title:Respondent. The Respondent is the spouse who does not file the initial divorce papers, but rather receives them by service.
Court Name:State of Oklahoma, In the District Court, __________ County. This is the Oklahoma court where the divorce will be filed. The court will assign a case number and have jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant the orders concerning, but not limited to: property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation. The name of the court is clearly represented at the top of all documents that are filed.
Primary Documents:Petition for Divorce and Decree of Divorce. These are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a divorce according to Oklahoma law. There are anywhere from ten to twenty other documents that may be required throughout the filing process. A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are: Domestic Relations Cover Sheet, Verification, Marital Settlement Agreement, Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, and Notice of Final Hearing.
Court Clerk's Title:District Clerk's Office. The clerk or the clerk's assistants will be the people managing your paperwork with the court. The clerk's office will keep the parties and the lawyers informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork that is needed, further requirements, and hearing dates and times.
Property Distribution:Since Oklahoma is an "equitable distribution" state, the marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues otherwise the court will declare the property award.
The court shall enter its decree confirming in each spouse the property owned by him or her before marriage and the undisposed-of property acquired after marriage by him or her in his or her own right.
As to such property, whether real or personal, which has been acquired by the parties jointly during their marriage, whether the title thereto be in either or both of said parties, the court shall, subject to a valid antenuptial contract in writing, make such division between the parties as may appear just and reasonable, by a division of the property in kind, or by setting the same apart to one of the parties, and requiring the other thereof to be paid such sum as may be just and proper to effect a fair and just division thereof. The court may set apart a portion of the separate estate of a spouse to the other spouse for the support of the children of the marriage where custody resides with that spouse. (Oklahoma Statutes - Title 43 - Sections: 121)
Restoration or Name Change:When a divorce is granted, the wife shall be restored to her maiden or former name if she so desires. (Oklahoma Statutes - Title 43 - Sections: 121)
Spousal Support:Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.
Either spouse may be allowed such alimony out of real and personal property of the other as the court shall think reasonable, having due regard to the value of such property at the time of the divorce. Alimony may be allowed from real or personal property, or both, or in the form of money judgment, payable either in gross or in installments, as the court may deem just and equitable.
Alimony, temporary support or any similar type of payment will be made through the office of the court clerk, then it shall be the duty of the court to transmit such payments to the payee by first class United States mail, if requested to do so by the payee. (Oklahoma Statutes - Title 43 - Sections: 121 and 136)
Counseling or Mediation Requirements:In the event of a dispute between the parents having joint custody of a child as to the interpretation of a provision of said plan, the court may appoint an arbitrator to resolve said dispute. The arbitrator shall be a disinterested person knowledgeable in domestic relations law and family counseling. The determination of the arbitrator shall be final and binding on the parties to the proceedings until further order of the court.
If a parent refuses to consent to arbitration, the court may terminate the joint custody decree. (Oklahoma Statutes - Title 43 - Sections: 109)
Child Custody:When minor children are involved in a divorce, the Oklahoma courts will do everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding the issues involving the children, the court will establish the custody order at its discretion.
In any action in which there are minor unmarried children in awarding or modifying the custody of the child or in appointing a general guardian for the child, the court shall consider what appears to be in the best interests of the child.
When it is in the best interests of a minor unmarried child, the court shall: a. Assure children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, and b. Encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy.
There shall be neither a legal preference nor a presumption for or against joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or sole custody.
When in the best interests of the child, custody shall be awarded in a way which assures the frequent and continuing contact of the child with both parents. When awarding custody to either parent, the court: a. Shall consider, among other facts, which parent is more likely to allow the child or children frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent, and b. Shall not prefer a parent as a custodian of the child because of the gender of that parent. (Oklahoma Statutes - Title 43 - Sections: 109 and 112 and Title 10 - Sections: 21.1)
Child Support:Oklahoma child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent's income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2's and child support worksheets are available at the courthouse.
All child support shall be computed as a percentage of the combined gross income of both parents. The Child Support Guideline Schedule shall be used for such computation. The child support obligations of each parent shall be computed.
The court will also examine the following deviation factors: 1. The actual medical and dental insurance premium for the child. 2. In cases of split custody, where each parent is awarded custody of at least one of their natural or legally adopted children, the child support obligation for each parent shall be calculated by application of the child support guidelines for each custodial arrangement. The parent with the larger child support obligation shall pay the difference between the two amounts to the parent with the smaller child support obligation. 3. Child care expenses shall be added to the base child support obligation. 4. By order of the court or by agreement of the parties monthly contributions for medical, transportation, or other costs may be added to the base monthly child support obligation.
If a judicial order, judgment or decree directs that the payment of child support be made through the Office of the Court Clerk, then it shall be the duty of the court to transmit such payments to the payee by first class United States Mail, if requested to do so by the payee. (Oklahoma Statutes - Title 43 - Sections: 110,112,118,119,121 and 136)
Copyright Notice: The above synopsis of Oklahoma divorce laws is original material which is owned and copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This material has been adapted from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. Violation of this notice will result in immediate legal action.
Courts decide alimony on a case-by-case basis. There is no definitive rule on how long a marriage must last before alimony can be awarded. If the parties cannot come to an agreement themselves, the court determines both the length and amount of alimony to be paid. In general, courts apply a three-year to one-year ratio awarding alimony payments; e.g., for every three years of marriage, one year of alimony is ordered. However, courts may impose different alimony-award time measurements.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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