Law on a Divorce & Property in Oklahoma

By Heather Frances J.D.

To get a divorce in Oklahoma, you must obtain a divorce decree from an Oklahoma court. Before the court can issue a decree, you must provide a reason, or grounds, for the divorce, and the court must make decisions about property division, child custody and child support. If you and your spouse agree about property division, the court can adopt your agreement as part of its decree.

Grounds and Property Division

Oklahoma recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds, and many couples file under the no-fault ground of “incompatibility.” If you file for divorce under one of the fault-based grounds, including adultery, impotence, extreme cruelty or abandonment, you have the burden of proving your allegation. If you file based on incompatibility, you do not have to fight about fault. However, even if you file for divorce on no-fault grounds and you and your spouse both want the divorce, either of you can contest how your property is divided.

Separate Property

Typically, Oklahoma courts only have authority to distribute marital property, not your separate property. Items acquired before your marriage, by inheritance or gift, or after one spouse files for divorce are considered separate property. Usually, each spouse keeps all of his separate property. However, separate property that is not kept separate from marital property may transmute, or change, into marital property and become divisible by the court. For example, if you receive an inheritance but add those funds to your family checking account and use the money in that account to pay marital bills, the court may find your inheritance has transmuted from separate property to marital property.

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Marital Property

Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage by either spouse, unless the property qualifies as separate property. Marital property can include your house, personal property like clothing and even your retirement funds. Your spouse may receive part of your retirement or pension assets in the divorce if you made contributions to those funds during your marriage. However, you and your spouse can agree to divide marital property in such a way that each of you keep assets you feel are individually yours.

Equitable Distribution

Since Oklahoma is an “equitable distribution” state, one of the functions of the court is to divide your marital property in a just and equitable manner when you cannot agree, though the court’s distribution may not be exactly equal. The court will consider relevant factors, including the duration of your marriage and the contributions each of you made to the marriage. This can include the non-economic contributions of one spouse as homemaker or caretaker of the children.

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References

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