Divorce can be very complicated, but Oklahoma spouses with no children and little contact with each other can simplify the process if they agree on the terms of the divorce. Spouses may file for a pro se divorce, meaning they are representing themselves, even if one spouse does not wish to cooperate or his whereabouts are unknown.
Beginning a Divorce
If you have your spouse’s current address, you must file the appropriate paperwork with the court, including a divorce petition, to begin the pro se divorce process. Even if you file with the help of an online service, you are considered "pro se" if you do not have a lawyer. You must file these papers in the district court of your county, where either you or your spouse have lived for at least 30 days before filing. Then, you must serve the papers on your spouse. You can include the terms of your divorce, such as property and debt division, in your petition. Once you have the papers served on your spouse, he has 20 days to answer the petition, either agreeing with the terms you proposed or disputing some or all of them.
If your spouse agrees to all the terms of your petition, he can file his answer without counterclaiming, or asking for a change to the terms. If he does this, he does not have to appear at the court hearing to finalize the divorce, but you must appear as the filing spouse. When couples without minor children file an uncontested divorce, the divorce can be finalized in as few as 10 days from the date the petition was filed. For couples with minor children, the waiting period is 90 days from the date of filing, unless both spouses agree to waive the 90-day waiting period and court approves.
If you properly serve your spouse with the court paperwork, your spouse may choose not to answer the petition within his 20-day time limit. If he does not answer, the court presumes he does not object to the petition and you can file for a default divorce to receive the relief you requested in your petition. This process takes longer since the court cannot rely on your spouse’s answer to indicate his agreement and he has not signed a waiver of the normal 90-day waiting period.
Service by Publication
If you don’t know your spouse’s location, you may serve your spouse with the divorce papers by publication rather than in person. You must use due diligence to serve your spouse by other means before service by publication is authorized, so you must make a reasonable effort to locate your spouse and have him served personally. To serve your spouse by publication, you must publish notice of the divorce action, signed by the court clerk, in an authorized newspaper for three consecutive weeks. Once the publication requirement has been met, you can proceed with your divorce.