How to File For Divorce in Oklahoma
Divorce is the legal process of ending or dissolving a marriage union or partnership. In Oklahoma, there are 10.8 divorces per 1,000 women over the age of 15. Divorce can either be contested or uncontested. Couples in an uncontested divorce have an amicable split; the parties agree to get divorced and agree about divorce issues such as alimony, child support, and property division. An uncontested divorce is typically straightforward and ends quicker than a contested divorce. In a contested divorce, the parties disagree over divorce issues or even the divorce itself. Contested divorces are more complex and take longer to finalize than uncontested divorces.
Oklahoma has a mandatory waiting period between the filing and finalization of a divorce. In divorces that involve minors, the waiting period is 90 days, even if it is an uncontested divorce. However, divorces that do not involve minor children have a mandatory waiting period of 10 days. Divorce laws and processes can be complicated, and parties should have sufficient information before filing to ensure that the parties’ interests are protected.
Do I Need a Reason for Divorce in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma is both a grounds and no-fault divorce state. This means that it is possible to file for divorce in Oklahoma on the grounds of irreconcilable differences or any of the following reasons:
- Abandonment for more than one year
- Extreme cruelty
- If, at the time of marriage, the wife is pregnant by another man
- Fraudulent contracts
- Gross neglect of duty
- Habitual drunkenness
- Imprisonment of one of the married parties in state or federal prison
- Insanity for five years
- A divorce in another state that does not release the party from marital obligations in Oklahoma
Oklahoma residents may file for divorce without detailing the reason for the breakdown of the marriage.
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.
Why do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?
Divorce lawyers are essential in divorce proceedings, especially where children are involved or in contested divorces. Divorce lawyers help case parties to interpret state laws on divorce, custody, property and asset division, and other issues. Lawyers also help ensure that the case parties’ interests are protected. Divorce attorneys also represent case parties in court.
For Pro Se petitioners and respondents, it is important to seek legal advice for the divorce process. Divorce attorneys can offer guidance on filing and other divorce processes to ensure that the party understands the law’s requirements and the effects of divorce.
How do I Get Started in a Divorce in Oklahoma?
The divorce process begins when one party files a divorce petition with the District Court Clerk in the county where the party or the respondent lives. In an uncontested or amicable divorce, the respondent may sign a service waiver to acknowledge that the party is aware of the filing or has received notice in another way.
To qualify for divorce in Oklahoma, either party must have lived in the state for no less than six (6) months. Additionally, either party must have lived in the county of filing for at least 30 days.
The petitioner must file a notice of summons with the petition; the Sheriff’s Office or a hired process server will then serve the notice to the respondent to notify the respondent of the divorce filing. The respondent must respond to the notice within 20 days. If the respondent has a counterclaim, the petitioner must also respond. The petitioner is responsible for service and filing fees.
How to File for Divorce in Oklahoma Without a Lawyer?
Oklahoma allows Pro Se petitioners and defendants, that is, parties who choose to be self-represented. Parties who file for uncontested divorces may also do so without a lawyer. Divorce cases that can be resolved without a trial also do not require the services of a divorce attorney. For example, divorce cases resolved through mediation may not require a lawyer.
Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. 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 cannot be guaranteed.
How Does Oklahoma Divorce Mediation Work?
Divorce mediation helps parties come to a voluntary resolution about divorce issues, such as asset division, child custody, alimony, child support, and visitation. Mediators are trained third parties who bring conflict resolution and mediation skills into divorce cases. Some mediators are lawyers, but mediators do not have to be lawyers.
Mediators may meet with divorce parties together or separately, depending on what each case requires. If the case parties agree about divorce issues, the mediator will draft an agreement for the parties to sign. The mediator will then submit the agreement to the court for the judge’s signature. Mediation does not occur in the courtroom, and the proceedings are confidential; therefore, judges do not know the details of cases resolved in mediation. Also, mediators are bound by law and ethics to hold all discussions and information in confidence.
Mediation helps by reducing the amount of time that parties spend on a divorce case. Contested divorces are often complex and take a long time to finalize; mediation can help shorten the completion timeline. Additionally, mediation is more affordable than divorce attorney fees.
In Oklahoma, mediators must be certified by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in Oklahoma?
If parties in a divorce case voluntarily agree about divorce issues, the mediator will write the agreement and have the parties sign the agreement. The mediator will then present the agreement to the court for the judge’s signature. The agreement will form part of the divorce judgment that the court delivers. Divorce is not final until the judge signs the agreement and delivers the final divorce decree. Oklahoma has a mandatory waiting period of 90 days in divorce cases where minors are involved. Cases that do involve minor children have a mandatory waiting period of 10 days.
Are Divorce Records Public in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma divorce records are public. According to the Open Records Act, members of the public may request public records. Sealed records, confidential information, and other documents exempted by law do not fall under this category. For example, although divorce records are public, confidential information such as social security numbers or personal financial information may not be accessible to the public.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a 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 person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How do I Get Oklahoma Divorce Records?
Interested parties may get Oklahoma divorce records by contacting the Clerk of District Court in the county where the divorce was finalized. Clerks are the sole custodians of divorce records in Oklahoma. Requesting parties must submit written requests to the Clerk of court. The written request must contain a clear description of the record the requesting party is seeking, including important information such as names of the divorced parties, the date of dissolution, and the place where the court finalized the divorce.
It is possible to inspect public records at no cost; however, the court may charge fees to produce copies of divorce records.