The Difference Between No-Fault and At-Fault Divorce in Oklahoma



Getting married is one of the most significant decisions of your life and so is deciding that it is best for you and your spouse to go your separate ways. If you are living in Oklahoma and contemplating divorce, you probably have serious questions about how divorce is handled in the state. This article answers the most common questions about Oklahoma divorce law. Keep in mind that every case is different, and consulting with a lawyer will help ensure you make decisions that are in the best interests of you and your family.

Does Oklahoma Have No-Fault Divorce?

Like other states, Oklahoma has no-fault divorce laws. No-fault divorce is the most common way that couples divorce. All that is necessary is for both parties to decide they no longer want to be married, and they can obtain a divorce without listing separate grounds.

However, Oklahoma is one of the few states where parties can still base their divorce on a "fault condition." A fault condition is a circumstance which makes the marriage unworkable. If a party alleges a fault condition, it seriously impacts how the court approaches division of assets, custody issues, and the final divorce judgment.

What are the Grounds for At-Fault Divorce in Oklahoma?

There are 12 grounds for divorce in Oklahoma, but only a few of these fault conditions are commonly alleged. The 12 grounds are:

*Adultery *Abandonment for one year *Fraud *Imprisonment *Felony conviction *Living Apart *Impotency *A woman being pregnant with another man's child at the time of the marriage *Extreme cruelty *Habitual drunkenness *Gross neglect of duty *Insanity for a period of five years

The most commonly cited fault grounds are adultery, fraud, imprisonment, abandonment, and living apart. A person who alleges fault will have the burden of proving that their spouse is at fault.

What are the Pros and Cons of Filing an At-Fault Divorce?

At-fault divorce can be difficult to prove. It can be hard to compile proof of grounds like adultery or extreme cruelty, although it can be done with proper representation. However, some fault conditions are simpler to pursue, like imprisonment or abandonment of more than one year.

One of the drawbacks to at-fault divorce is that the other spouse may also raise defenses. This opens you up to being attacked on fault grounds yourself. For example, if the other spouse can prove that both parties committed a fault, then the judge could deny the divorce. A spouse could also try to prove that you forgave them for their fault, essentially condoning the conduct. In short, these considerations make at-fault divorce complex and adds an element of stress into a process that is already difficult.

There are, however, some pros to seeking an at-fault divorce in Oklahoma. If you file for at-fault divorce and your spouse is indeed found to be at fault, you might get a much bigger share of marital assets. You are also likely to get full custody of minor children. An at-fault divorce also does not depend on the agreement on the other party that the marriage has broken down, making it possible for a person to end a marriage where there is abuse and their spouse refuses to agree to divorce.

What is the Process After a Petition for Divorce is Filed with the Court?

After your divorce petition is filed, the court clerk issues a summons. The petition for divorce and summons must be served on your spouse. If there are issues which require a temporary order, your lawyer can file an application for a temporary court order directing the spouse to refrain from doing certain things, or to take specific actions. Once the petition and summons are served, your spouse has 20 days to file an answer with the court clerk.

What is an Oklahoma ATI?

In Oklahoma, once a divorce petition has been served, the court enters an automatic temporary injunction (ATI) to protect both parties. The injunction typically has provisions barring certain financial expenditures and modifications to bank accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc. the parties must exchange specific documents within 30 days of service. A party who violates an ATI is subject to contempt of court, so it is important to understand and follow the terms of the ATI.

How Long Does an Oklahoma Divorce Take?

*The length of time it takes for a divorce to become final depends on the complexity of the divorce, the couple's assets, and whether they have children.

*When the parties agree to a no-fault divorce and have no children, a divorce could be granted in as little as 10 days after the petition is field.

*When there are minor children, there is a 90-day waiting period before the divorce can take place. This can be waived in limited circumstances.

*If a person's spouse decides to contest the divorce, the entire case could take longer than 90 days.

Will There be a Trial by Jury?

If the parties cannot agree on how to settle the divorce case, there will be a trial. However, the judge, not a jury, will decide the issues in the case.

Contact an Oklahoma Divorce Lawyer About Fault or No Fault Divorce

If you aren't sure about whether you should file for no fault or at-fault divorce, contacting an Oklahoma Divorce Lawyer for a consultation will help you formulate a strategy. By calling our office at 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW) you can speak with one of our highly experienced divorce attorneys. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library, or enter live chat.

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