The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Oklahoma
As a civil contract, marriage is subject to abrogation either by divorce or annulment as provided by the laws of Oklahoma (O. S. § 43–1). All actions to abrogate a marriage is presided over and enforced by order of the state judiciary. Furthermore, records of divorce and annulment proceedings are available to the public unless otherwise prohibited by a court order or statute.
What is an Oklahoma Divorce Decree?
A divorce decree, or a judgment of dissolution in Oklahoma, declares that the court has terminated the marriage contract and any obligation or liability associated with the marriage (O. S. § 43–122). Consequently, the divorcees revert to their original social and legal status before the solemnization.
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.
What is an Annulment in Oklahoma?
Suffice to say that an annulment is an order that retroactively voids a marriage. Thus, upon examination, the court rules that the marriage was never legal from the start. Couples may file for annulment on several grounds. Per O. S. § 43–2, the law expressly prohibits and voids consanguinity, i.e., a marriage between kin. Furthermore, according to O. S. § 43–126 and O. S. § 43–125, another ground for annulment is a marriage wherein one of the spouses has not received a final decree of divorce. Other grounds for annulment in Oklahoma include marriage fraud, marriage under duress or threat, and marriage with an incompetent person (O. S. § 43–3).
Annulment records are available to the public, according to Oklahoma sunshine laws. However, these records are only accessible at the office of the clerk at the court that adjudicated the petition. However, the record custodian must sequester annulment records that contain confidential information from public access, e.g., information on a minor.
Annulment vs. Divorce in Oklahoma
Suffice to say that the only similarities are that both cases follow the Oklahoma Rules of Civil Procedure, and a decree frees both parties from the bonds of matrimony. Still, divorce and annulment are intrinsically different in what either action accomplishes. An annulment means that a marriage was never valid under state laws. A divorce, however, means that the court recognized the validity of the marriage until the date of the decree.
Besides, either spouse may initiate the suit for divorce at any time, but a person must file for annulment as soon as he/she discovers the invalidity of the marriage. Otherwise, the court will consider the motive for implicit failure to annul before granting the petition.
Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce In Oklahoma?
No. The cost of an annulment is often significantly higher than a divorce settled out of court. The process of annulling a marriage involves several legal expenses such as the cost of legal investigation, providing corroborating evidence, and attorney fees.
What is an Uncontested Divorce in Oklahoma?
Generally, uncontested divorce refers to a no-fault petition for dissolution of marriage based on incompatibility. However, an uncontested divorce may also refer to where the respondent does not file a counterclaim or disagree with the grounds for divorce. To get a no-fault divorce in Oklahoma, the intending divorcee must submit the petition and, more importantly, an equitable settlement agreement signed by both spouses. The agreement must detail the division of property, financial assets, and liabilities. If there are minors involved, the settlement agreement must also detail the intending divorcees’ agreement regarding child support, parenting time, and alimony.
Where to Get an Uncontested Divorce Form in Oklahoma
Divorce forms are available at the office of the clerk of courts, in the jurisdiction where the divorce action will begin—this is usually the spouses’ residential county. Note that the court does not provide divorce forms online as of December 2020, but interested persons may get the divorce forms from their attorneys or a third-party service. Also, note that intending divorcees must meet the six-month residency requirement for filing a divorce suit in Oklahoma (O. S. § 43.102).
Records of uncontested divorces are generally available to the public. However, upon request, the court may issue an order to sequester a divorce record that contains information that violates the privacy or safety of the divorcees (O. S. 24A.5). These include the settlement agreement, financial records, and information regarding minors.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching for records simpler, as geographic locations do not limit their activities. Thus, the search engines on third-party sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or persons involved in the case. These include information such as the city, county, or state of residence or accusation.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not government-sponsored. Consequently, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How do I Get a Copy of my Divorce Decree in Oklahoma?
Find the location and contact information of the district court using the court directory, and visit the office of the clerk of courts in person during business hours. There, the requester must submit a formal request for a copy of the divorce decree and provide the necessary details to help the court staff retrieve the divorce decree. Depending on the court’s record management system, the details include the names of the divorcees and the date of the divorce decree, docket number, or the name of the presiding judge. Furthermore, he or she must pay the applicable fee for searching, copying, and certifying the divorce decree.
Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability is not guaranteed. Similarly, their availability through third-party websites and companies is not guaranteed, as these organizations are not government-sponsored, and record availability may vary. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records is not guaranteed.
How Do I get an Oklahoma Divorce Decree Online?
As of December 2020, the Oklahoma Judiciary does not process online requests for divorce decrees. Thus, persons who need a copy of the divorce decree must visit the office of the clerk of court in person and during business hours. However, publicly available case information on divorce is available on the court docket.