Divorce Laws in Oklahoma

by Beverly Bird

Oklahoma's laws are perhaps most unique regarding what you can do after you’re divorced, at least for a period of time. Title 43, Section 123 of the state’s legislative code prohibits remarriage until six months have passed since your divorce was final. Before you can worry about remarriage, however, you’ll have to negotiate the divorce process. In Oklahoma, it's relatively straightforward. (References 2 and 4)

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Rules for Filing

Oklahoma requires that you live in the state for at least six months before you can file for divorce. The state’s no-fault ground is “incompatibility.” Oklahoma judges may consider fault when deciding issues such as property, custody and visitation, so if your spouse is guilty of some wrongdoing, you have the option of filing on fault grounds. The most often-used of these include adultery, abandonment for more than a year and cruelty. (References 1 and 2)

Spousal Support

Like most states, Oklahoma does not award spousal support in every divorce. The issue is decided on a case-by-case basis. When a judge does award it, it may take the shape of monthly payments, a lump sum or additional marital property. If you receive alimony in regular payments, Oklahoma’s statutes give you the option of having it paid through the state so the government can monitor the situation if your ex-spouse falls behind. (References 1 and 3)

Child Support

When determining support for your children, Oklahoma is one of the states that uses the “income shares model.” This formula first considers the total amount of income available to both parents each month, then it designates a portion of this for the needs of your children. The more children you have, the higher this portion is. After the formula determines how much the children need, this figure is then divided between the parents based on the contribution they each make to their combined total income. If you earn 60 percent of the combined income, you’re responsible for paying 60 percent of the amount set aside for your children’s needs. The custodial parent pays her percentage directly to the children’s needs and the non-custodial parent pays his percentage to the custodial parent in child support. (Reference 1)

Custody and Visitation

Oklahoma’s statutes do not include any set schedule for visitation. Like alimony, this is determined by the court on an individual basis. The state uses the “best interests of the child” doctrine for determining the custodial parent. One of these "best interests" considerations is which parent is most likely to encourage a continuing relationship between the non-custodial parent and the children. Title 43 of the state’s legislative code specifically rules that the court can not consider a parent’s gender when determining custody. If you and your spouse can’t agree on custody and visitation, Oklahoma’s laws allow a judge to send you to arbitration. After working with you to try to establish a parenting plan, an arbitrator will submit one to the court on your behalf if you still can't agree. That plan is binding and a judge will include it in your divorce decree. (References 1, 3 and 4)

Marital Property

Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state. This gives its judges some discretion when they must decide issues of property for you. Generally, a judge will determine the value of each item of your property, then distribute items to your column or your spouse’s column until the total value of each comes out relatively equal. A 50/50 split is not mandatory, however. A judge can take marital misconduct and a spouse's need into consideration. (References 1 and 3)