The Termination of Marriage & a Legal Separation in Oklahoma

By Beverly Bird

Divorce is a significant step and sometimes spouses like to take it slowly. Not all states recognize legal separation, however, a judicial process that governs your responsibilities and obligations until you're ready to end your marriage entirely. Oklahoma does and the process can pave the way for divorce or your decree of legal separation can last indefinitely. Separation is not a prerequisite for terminating your marriage by divorce.

Legal Separation

In Oklahoma, legally separating is a process much like asking the court for a divorce. You must file a petition to initiate the proceedings; the court then resolves your marital issues unless you and your spouse can reach an agreement on your own. You're still legally married after you receive a decree of legal separation. Therefore, there may be property division implications. However, since your separation decree isn't final like a divorce decree is, you can modify any property division terms when you ultimately divorce.

Rules for Divorce

If you decide to divorce rather than legally separate, you or your spouse must live in Oklahoma for at least six months before you file. Oklahoma recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds. The court can resolve issues for you at trial, or you and your spouse can reach your own agreement. If you have children, the state imposes a waiting period for divorce of 90 days from the date you file your petition, even if you resolve your marital issues in the meantime. If you don't have children, this period is shortened to 10 days. In either case, the court can waive the requirement for good cause. An ATI, or automatic temporary injunction, remains in place throughout the waiting period or, if your divorce is contested and takes longer, until it is final. The ATI prohibits you or your spouse from doing such things as dissipating marital assets or making changes to insurance policies or retirement plans.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Property Division

Whether you separate or divorce, Oklahoma courts resolve property issues according to the principles of equitable distribution if you can't reach an agreement on your own. This means the court may award either you or your spouse more than half of your marital property or more than half of your marital debt. In accordance with equitable distribution standards, the judge will divide marital property and debts in a way that is fair based on the circumstances. Your spouse has no claim to your separate property – that which you brought into the marriage or received through an inheritance or as a gift. An exception exists if you muddied the waters of your separate ownership, such as if you titled a particular asset in joint names or deposited your separate money into a joint marital account.

Spousal Support

Oklahoma law recognizes alimony, but one spouse must genuinely require it to make ends meet and the other must have the ability to provide it without seriously compromising his own lifestyle. The idea is that neither spouse should live in poverty while the other lives well. The state does not have a mathematical formula for calculating the amount of alimony – it's up to the discretion of your judge. Courts can order alimony during a separation or as part of divorce proceedings.

Child Support

A child support order can be part of a divorce decree or a decree for legal separation and Oklahoma's statutes include a formula for calculating the amount. The state uses the income shares model. This model adds both parents' incomes together then sets aside a portion of the total for the benefit of their children. The court can adjust this number for things such as work-related daycare or because children from other relationships also require their parents' support.


A separation decree doesn't allow you to remarry because it doesn't legally terminate your marriage. Your divorce decree doesn't allow you to immediately remarry either. Oklahoma law states that you must wait six months after your divorce is final, unless you remarry your spouse. You can marry in another state, but if you do and then return to Oklahoma to live with your new spouse during the six-month waiting period, you're technically guilty of felony adultery. Your divorce isn't recognized for remarriage purposes until the waiting period expires, so your second marriage is temporarily illegal.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Arkansas Laws for Separation


Related articles

Procedures for a Legal Separation & Divorce in Illinois

Illinois law recognizes legal separation, although not all states do. Legal separations are somewhat rare in the state, however, because the procedure, expense and outcome are almost identical to those of a divorce. The predominant difference is that with a separation, you’re still legally married, and with a divorce, you are not.

Can My Ex Sue Me After a Bifurcation Divorce?

Divorce laws can vary from state to state, and this is particularly true with the issue of bifurcation. Bifurcating a divorce allows you and your spouse to part ways without first deciding issues, such as property division. However, not all states allow it. Alaska, California and Kansas include provisions for bifurcation in their legislative codes, but Michigan, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska don't permit it. In New Jersey, a court will only permit bifurcation under "extraordinary circumstances." If you're unsure about your own state, check with an attorney to find out if it's possible, because some jurisdictions don't have any hard-and-fast rules for bifurcation at all.

North Carolina Divorce a Year After Separating or Signing a Separation Agreement

North Carolina is somewhat unique among states in two respects: spouses can divorce without first resolving issues of custody, support and property, and the state has abolished fault-based divorce. Only two grounds exist for divorce: the incurable insanity of your spouse, or a one-year separation. Because most spouses are not incurably insane, this leaves many divorcing couples with only one option -- to separate a year before one of them files.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to File for Legal Separation in North Carolina

Legal separation is one of those terms that can mean different things, depending on where you live. Some states don't ...

Legal Separation in West Virginia

West Virginia is fairly accommodating if you're looking for a legal way to separate from your spouse. The state's ...

What Are the Benefits of Legal Separation Vs. Divorce?

Legal separation and divorce are two options for married couples who wish to part ways. According to the Centers for ...

Divorce & Legal Separation Laws in Pennsylvania

Technically, Pennsylvania’s statutes contain no mention of "legal separation." This is a bit misleading, however, ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED