Same-sex marriages became legal in Oklahoma on October 6, 2014. It happened after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which recognized any same-sex marriages and a gay divorce in Oklahoma. Since then, all couples can legally obtain marriage licenses or seek a same-sex divorce in Oklahoma.
The marriage dissolution procedure is regulated by Title 43 of Oklahoma Statutes. State judges are obligated by law to treat all cases equally whether the couple is same-sex or heterosexual. Spouses can file for same-sex divorce in Oklahoma if they meet residency requirements. Their marriage does not even have to be official because Oklahoma is one of the states that recognizes common-law marriage.
Same-sex divorce online
These days, many same-sex couples opt for a do-it-yourself divorce with the help of online resources since it is considered an easy and fast way to end a marriage. The primary reason is that divorce over the Internet is much cheaper than hiring an attorney.
However, only same-sex couples with an uncontested divorce can file for divorce in Oklahoma without a lawyer. Contested cases will require legal help because they cannot be resolved between the spouses in advance.
Online services do not provide you with a final decree. For that, you will need a judge. What you can do is prepare state-specific papers and file them with the court to start your case. Sometimes, it is not so easy to collect and complete all the documents by yourself. That is when you can turn to the Internet for help.
For example, preparing same-sex divorce paperwork in Oklahoma can be affordable using the popular website oklahomaonlinedivorce.com which provides clients with up-to-date printable documents for $139.
Same-sex divorce papers in Oklahoma
Same-sex divorce forms in Oklahoma, as a rule, include a petition for marriage dissolution, summons, civil cover sheet, non-military affidavit, and a settlement agreement if the marriage dissolution is uncontested. The clerk may ask for other papers depending on the circumstances of each case.
Typically, any lawyer will explain how to file a same-sex divorce in Oklahoma and prepare all the necessary paperwork. Or you can collect the required information on your own, but it will be challenging. The best alternative is to use online services for the preparation of your same-sex divorce papers in Oklahoma.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Oklahoma
A divorce process in Oklahoma for same-sex couples starts when one of the spouses submits a petition for marriage dissolution to the court. The person filing for divorce is called a petitioner, and the other party is called a respondent. One of them has to meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in Oklahoma and end their same-sex marriage. Another condition is to provide the court with a reason for marriage dissolution.
A couple can get a same-sex divorce in Oklahoma based on one of the following causes (Oklahoma Statutes § 43-101):
Willful abandonment for one year;
The wife’s pregnancy by a person other than her husband;
Fraudulent contract (one of the spouses was tricked into getting married);
Gross neglect of duty (one of the spouses did not provide for the financial needs of the family on purpose);
Imprisonment of the respondent at the time of filing a petition;
Insanity and institutionalization for five years with poor prospects of recovery;
The acquisition of a marriage dissolution decree outside the state which does not relieve the couple from its marital ties in Oklahoma.
Since Oklahoma is a no-fault state, anyone married to a same-sex spouse can get a divorce in Oklahoma on the grounds of incompatibility. Dissolutions on fault-based grounds are less frequent and require proof.
Custody of the Child
Family law matters such as child custody are considered with great care in Oklahoma courts. Each parent has equal rights to be awarded custody over their children. A judge will generally grant joint custody if it is in the best interest of a child. It means that both parents share care and control over a child and jointly decide issues concerning his or her education, health, and well-being.
If spouses have reached an agreement for joint custody, they must submit a parenting plan that specifies the visitation schedule, medical and dental care, child support, etc. A judge will adopt final arrangements based on the parents’ plan (Oklahoma Statutes § 43-109). If the court finds that one of the parents is guilty of domestic violence or charged with child abuse or neglect, custody will be awarded to another parent.
One of the requirements for couples with children is to attend a parenting class. Oklahoma courts consider parental education to be an essential part of marriage dissolution. Parents will learn how to manage their relationship with the children and handle emotional stress because of the separation.
Under Oklahoma law, both parents may be ordered to pay child support. Its amount is calculated using the Income Share Model formula based on the combined adjusted gross income and the number of children. Income includes salaries, wages, bonuses, pensions, annuities, social security benefits, etc. (Oklahoma Statutes § 43-118B). Each parent’s obligation is computed according to the child support guidelines and has to be paid monthly on a specific date. A child support order may be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as changes in the needs of a child or the parents’ income.
The payments are terminated when a child reaches 18 unless a child is attending high school. In this case, the support obligation is extended until a child finishes their education or reaches 20 years of age, whichever comes first. Payments shall continue for an indefinite period if a child is disabled and cannot provide for self-support (Oklahoma Statutes § 43-112.1A).
One of the spouses can ask for financial support from the other. Without regard to marital misconduct, the court will determine the need for alimony and a reasonable amount. There is temporary, short-term (rehabilitative), and long-term (permanent) spousal support. A judge decides the type and amount of alimony according to the length of the marriage, age and health of the parties, income and earning capacity, and other factors.
Alimony is terminated when one of the spouses dies, or the receiving spouse remarries. Either spouse can apply for a modification of payments by providing proof of changed circumstances (Oklahoma Statutes § 43-134). They have to be substantial and continuing and can concern the need for alimony and the ability to pay it.
Every divorce proceeding for couples with substantial property requires arrangements for its division. Divorce laws in Oklahoma for property distribution are the same for same-sex unions and straight couples. The state uses the notion of equitable property division. But first, the court must determine the couple’s marital assets and debts and what part belongs solely to each of the spouses.
Only marital property is divided between the spouses. It includes everything acquired and all financial obligations that occured after the wedding. The separate property comprises personal gifts, inheritance, and any income from them.
So how is property divided in equitable states, such as Oklahoma? A judge will consider each spouse’s contribution to acquiring the property to divide assets and debts fairly and reasonably (Oklahoma Statutes § 43-121).
In Oklahoma, the divorcing spouses can use mediation to resolve issues regarding their marriage dissolution. The process is conducted by a neutral third party — a mediator — who is trained to guide couples through the process of negotiation in a peaceful manner. Mediators cannot give spouses any legal advice — they only help the parties to reach an agreement before the next court hearing.
If the spouses can agree on the key terms, a mediator drafts a settlement agreement and submits it to the court. A judge can either approve or reject it. The benefit of mediation is that a couple can maintain respectful relationships and communicate more effectively than in a courtroom. Another distinct advantage is that it is relatively quick and inexpensive compared to litigation.
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Oklahoma
When spouses file for divorce in Oklahoma to end their same-sex marriage, they need to pay a filing fee. The exact amount of payment depends on the type of case you have and the county’s local rules. Generally, you will have to pay approximately $170-$250. Some counties charge more if there are minor children, others leave the price the same.
If you are unable to pay the fee, you can ask for a waiver. When doing so, you will have to provide all the necessary financial information that shows your difficult circumstances. Also, think carefully about how to serve your spouse with copies of documents. Certified mail costs $10, and the Sheriff’s service is $50. You can also ask a third party to deliver the copies and save money. The person serving your spouse cannot be underage or a party to your marriage dissolution.
How long will it take
Divorce for same-sex couples in Oklahoma takes a minimum of a few months. The length of the divorce process depends primarily on the type of the case (contested or uncontested) and minor children. There is a 10-day waiting period for couples without children to get a final decree. Spouses with children will have to wait at least 90 days. Also, uncontested cases take less time than contested, where spouses have to go through a divorce trial.
The whereabouts of the other spouse also affects the duration of the marriage dissolution process. When a couple is in agreement, they save a lot of time, and usually, their parting is quick and almost painless. On the other hand, the other spouse can try to hide or move to another residence. However, such behavior is not effective.
If a person is married to a same-sex spouse, they can get a divorce in Oklahoma even if the spouse is out of state. But this will take more time because of finding and serving that spouse and waiting for the response.