Divorce in Oklahoma: Everything You Need to Know

1 min readLast updated March 27, 2024by Unbiased team

This article will take you through what you need to know when it comes to getting a divorce in the state of Oklahoma.

Summary

  • Oklahoma recognizes both “fault-based” and “no-fault” grounds for divorces. 

  • Filing fees can vary by county but generally range from $150 to $300 in Oklahoma.

  • To file for divorce in Oklahoma, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing.

  • A financial advisor can help you protect your finances through a divorce and develop a long-term plan to rebuild afterward. 

What are the different types of divorce in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma allows for divorce based on several fault-based grounds, such as adultery, abandonment, and extreme cruelty, among others. 

However, most divorces are filed under the no-fault ground of "incompatibility," which does not require proof of wrongdoing by either spouse.

In Oklahoma, there are two main ways to navigate your divorce:

  • Uncontested divorce: Often referred to as a "waiver divorce," this type occurs when both parties agree on all major issues, including asset division, child custody, and alimony. Uncontested divorces are typically faster and less expensive because they require less court intervention and can sometimes be completed without either party appearing in court.

  • Contested divorce: This type of divorce happens when spouses cannot agree on one or more key issues. If you choose a contested divorce, you will have to go to trial, where a judge will make decisions on the disputed matters. These divorces are usually more time-consuming and costly due to the increased legal involvement and court proceedings.

How much does a divorce cost in Oklahoma?

The cost of a divorce in Oklahoma can vary widely based on several factors, including whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the necessity of hiring attorneys, and the complexity of the case. 

Here's a breakdown of some of the most common costs associated with a divorce in Oklahoma:

  • Filing Fees: The initial step in filing for divorce is to pay the court filing fees. These fees can vary by county but generally range from $150 to $300 in Oklahoma. It's advisable to check with your local courthouse for the exact amount.

  • Attorney Fees: Attorney fees represent a significant portion of divorce costs, especially in contested cases. For uncontested divorces, attorneys may offer a flat rate since these are simpler to handle. Contested divorces, on the other hand, are billed by the hour, with rates depending on the attorney's experience and the case's complexity. On average, attorney fees go into the thousands for uncontested divorces and significantly higher for contested divorces.

  • Additional Costs: In addition to filing and attorney fees, divorcing couples might incur costs for mediation, child custody evaluators, and other experts. These costs can add up, especially if the divorce is highly contentious.

To help minimize expenses, it’s recommended couples consider mediation to resolve disputes outside of court, opt for an uncontested divorce if possible, and gather all necessary financial documents beforehand to reduce the time their attorney spends on their case.

How do you file for divorce in Oklahoma?

Filing for divorce in Oklahoma involves several steps designed to ensure that all legal requirements are met. 

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you understand the process:

  1. Determine your eligibility: To file for divorce in Oklahoma, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing.

  2. Choose the type of divorce: Decide whether you are filing for an uncontested or contested divorce. This decision will influence the complexity of your case and the steps you need to follow.

  3. Prepare the necessary documents: To initiate your divorce proceedings, you'll need to complete several forms, including a Petition for Divorce. These forms vary depending on your county, so it's important to obtain the correct ones from your local courthouse or an online legal service.

  4. File the petition: Once the paperwork is ready, file your Petition for Divorce with the clerk of the district court in the county where you or your spouse lives. You'll need to pay the filing fee at this time unless you qualify for a fee waiver due to financial hardship.

  5. Serve your spouse: After filing, the law requires that your spouse be formally notified of the divorce action. This can be done through a process server, sheriff's service, or, in uncontested cases, by your spouse signing an entry of appearance and waiver of service.

  6. Wait for a response: Your spouse has 20 days (if they are in Oklahoma) or 30 days (if they are out of state) to respond to the divorce petition. How they respond will determine the next steps in the process.

  7. Proceed according to the type of divorce: If your divorce is uncontested, you may be able to finalize the divorce without a court hearing. In contested cases, you'll likely need to go through mediation, temporary order hearings, and possibly a trial.

  8. Finalize the divorce: Once all issues are resolved, whether through negotiation or court decision, the judge will sign a final decree of divorce, officially ending your marriage.

Remember, the specifics of your situation can affect these steps. For example, divorces involving children or significant assets may require additional documentation and considerations.

How are assets split in a divorce in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, the division of assets during a divorce follows the principle of equitable distribution. 

This doesn't necessarily mean a 50/50 split, but rather, assets will be divided fairly between both parties, taking multiple factors into account. 

These factors can include each spouse's income and earning potential, the length of the marriage, contributions to the marriage (including homemaking and childcare), and the cause of the divorce, among others.

Before dividing your assets, it's important to distinguish between marital property (assets acquired during the marriage) and separate property (assets owned before the marriage, gifts, or inheritances). Generally, only marital property is subject to division in a divorce.

Assets often subject to division include real estate, retirement accounts, savings accounts, investments, and personal property like vehicles and furniture. Debts acquired during the marriage are also divided between the spouses.

Many divorcing couples are able to reach an agreement on asset division through negotiation or mediation without needing a court to decide. This can save time, money, and stress.

However, if spouses cannot agree, the court will step in to divide assets in a manner it deems equitable. The judge's decision is final, though it can be appealed under certain circumstances.

It's also worth noting that some assets, like certain retirement accounts, require specific legal documents (such as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order) to divide them properly.

How does alimony work in Oklahoma?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a financial payment that one spouse may be required to make to the other during or after a divorce. 

In Oklahoma, alimony is not automatically granted but can be awarded based on a variety of factors intended to ensure fairness and prevent financial disparity. 

To be eligible for alimony, the requesting spouse must demonstrate a need for financial support and the other spouse's ability to pay.

Oklahoma recognizes different types of alimony, including rehabilitative (short-term support to help a spouse gain employment skills or education) and permanent support (longer-term support, often after long marriages or where one spouse cannot become self-sufficient).

The court considers several factors when deciding on alimony, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and earning capacity, the health and appearance of the spouses, the standard of living during the marriage, and contributions to the other’s education or earning capacity.

Alimony agreements can be modified if circumstances significantly change, such as a substantial increase or decrease in either spouse's income. Additionally, alimony typically terminates if the receiving spouse remarries or either spouse dies.

It's important to note that alimony has tax implications. For divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, alimony payments are no longer deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient under federal tax laws, a change from previous guidelines.

When considering alimony, consulting with a financial advisor is invaluable for navigating the complexities of your financial landscape. They provide crucial insights into effectively managing your finances during and after the divorce, ensuring alimony arrangements align with your long-term financial goals.

What happens to children during a divorce in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, the welfare of children is a primary concern during divorce proceedings. 

The state's approach emphasizes the best interests of the child, focusing on ensuring their wellbeing and maintaining stability. 

When determining custody and visitation, courts consider various factors, including the desires of the parents and child (if of sufficient age), the child's relationship with each parent, and each parent's willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent.

When determining what will happen to children during a divorce, the court will examine the following areas: 

  • Custody and visitation: Oklahoma distinguishes between physical custody (where the child lives) and legal custody (decision-making authority for the child). Courts can award joint or sole custody, depending on what’s best for the child. Visitation schedules are also determined, providing the non-custodial parent time with the child.

  • Child support: Oklahoma uses a formula to calculate child support, considering both parents' incomes, the number of children, healthcare and childcare expenses, and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. This ensures that financial support is fair and meets the child’s needs.

As children grow and circumstances change, custody and support orders can be modified. Parents can request a review if there’s a significant change in needs or the financial situation of either parent.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor who meets your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

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