To say that divorce is a difficult topic to discuss is a bit of an understatement. It tends to be contentious by nature, unfortunately, which does make sense considering the topic. Ending a marriage, even under cordial terms, requires a lot of paperwork, time, and heartache. It would be disingenuous to claim otherwise, even if we would prefer to avoid the subject altogether.
A lot of us simply are not aware of all of that, though. I think a part of this is that we would prefer not to think about this daunting subject, especially when we are still in the newlywed or “honeymoon” stage of our relationship. However, this can lead to complications down the line. Unfortunately, it is true that at least fifty percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce.
That means that even from the start, it is probably a good idea to have at least a vague understanding of what it is and how it works. Sure, it might not make for the best conversation during your honeymoon, but as you plan your wedding and your vows, it does not hurt to at least have the discussion.
Let us work with the laws of Oklahoma, since that is where I would like to focus on today (home sweet home!). In case you did not already know this, the laws surrounding how this works vary from state to state. So, depending on where you are, this may not be entirely applicable to you. Still, the overarching message behind the information should be of some sort of benefit, so do not write me off just yet!
If you are unfamiliar with the legislature entirely, this could be a valuable resource: https://oklaw.org/resource/divorce. Consider checking it out to get a baseline before you continue on today. With that all being said, let us get started!
How a Divorce Works
We are going to begin with the basics, since that tends to be the best way to learn after all. A divorce is the annulment or discontinuation of a marriage contract that is obtained via the legal system. It typically involves lawyers, a judge, and in some more complex cases, a jury might even get involved. So, let us just say that it can get hard to navigate without some external support.
Just keep in mind that this only applies to the marriages completed by a ceremony or that are recognized under something known as “common law” in Oklahoma. What does this mean? Avoiding too much jargon, it is when both members of a couple are over the age of eighteen, have not married someone else, and have “held themselves” as a couple.
This latter qualification will be determined by a judge in most cases. It is quite subjective, but if you have been living together, have been seen out together and being affectionate, it is likely that your partnership will be recognized. It is a bit more of an uncommon circumstance, but worthwhile mentioning anyway.
Grounds for Divorce – What it Means and What it Entails
If you are researching this, there is a good chance that you have already heard this phrase tossed around. It plays a huge role in how difficult or how easy it is to accomplish the goal of separation. Essentially, “grounds” are the reasonings that either both parts of the couple or one partner has for wanting to dissolve the relationship by law.
Perhaps the first thing that is important to understand is that there are two umbrellas that a divorce can fall into. Most courts will consider them either a no-fault or an at-fault proceeding. Thus, the “grounds” typically are separated by these categories as well, meaning that some of them are more serious than others.
As a quick disclaimer, I want to place a trigger warning here. Some of the reasons that fall into that “at-fault” category are quite serious and could impact sensitive readers. Just know that I will not be going into too much detail there in aims to be respectful. To any survivors out there, my heart is with you.
If it is in this section, that means that it is more likely to be a clean-cut sort of divorce. As far as what that means, I am simply referring to the fact that the Oklahoma divorce papers for filing may be less difficult to process or fill out. That is because it tends to be a mutual decision rather than the failing of one person.
Perhaps the most common one that we see is “irreconcilable differences.” Regarding what those entail, it can vary of course. Some examples are arguing all of the time or simply finding yourselves incompatible. These things do happen, and even if you do not blame each other for them, you are still looking to separate. Usually these are the circumstances in which we see the “no fault” label.
As can be expected, this is the section where things get a bit more difficult. In these cases, there is one partner who is being accused of (or is proven to be) being at fault for the other person wanting to go their separate ways. As I hinted at above, the proceedings tend to be much longer and more drawn out in these instances, though that does tend to be justified. Do not let that scare you away from this.
Let us begin with the less heavy topics, since I think that gives ample time to ramp up to the worse ones. Bear in mind that some of these will likely sound quite antiquated – marriage law has not changed much in the United States throughout the decades (and even centuries), especially in certain parts of the country.
One that we rarely see sighted in the files is impotence. If one or both partners are found to be impotent and were at the beginning of the marriage, this can be grounds for an at-fault divorce. It is worth noting that it rarely occurs anymore, especially since that tends to be something that can not be prevented or helped.
In a similar vein in terms of rarely occurring is if there are familial relations between the partners in the marriage. If the two betrothed turn out to be close relatives of some sort, then this can be the result. It used to be more common, but these days is rarely going to be something relevant for most of us.
Shifting gears, next is “adultery,” which is the slightly antiquated term for cheating. In the past, this was usually attributed to a wife having extramarital affairs with other men. These days, though, it can be equally applied. Either way, it can certainly be a good reason to pursue a divorce.
Finally, we have reached the heavier subjects. Addiction to substances, be they alcohol or illegal drugs, can cause strain on a partnership, to say the least. It can lead to one partner being potentially harmful to their spouse and even children, if they are in the picture. Obviously, when personal safety is at risk, it falls under the “at-fault” category.
Alongside that are domestic violence situations. Be it physical or emotional abuse, both can be extraordinarily taxing and leave a person traumatized. Ideally, their motion to obtain a divorce will be respected. If this is a situation that you or a loved one is in, consider looking at websites like this one to prepare and get support.
Finally, if the marriage was forced upon one partner, or if the entire thing was a fraud manufactured by one of the participants, it can be in this category. There are a few others as well, but they tend to be fairly similar to the ones that I have listed above, so I will move on.
The Road Can be Long and Tiresome
What many seem to forget to take into account is that this process is not an easy one, even if it is an uncontested divorce. No matter the circumstances, there are going to be some speed bumps along the way. Despite this, though, most people have good reasons to push through to the other side and finalize the decision. I have covered some of those above, of course.
The first thing that you should check in on is whether both partners fulfill the residential requirements of the state in which you are obtaining the divorce. Of course, if you have lived there for your entire lives, that is an easy one. In Oklahoma, the law is that both need to have resided in the state for at least six months while married.
Your next question might be where you can file. Again, this can differ depending on where you are located. However, for this state, you can file with a county court if you have resided in said county for at least thirty days. Just remember that this applies to the filing spouse, not necessarily both – so, if there is a case of desertion or something akin to that, you can still start the process.
The next steps will depend largely on the circumstances surrounding your marriage. So, those prior categories that I discussed in depth with you will have an impact on this. Some of the key components that remain the same in most cases are the marital settlement agreement and the petition to end the marriage.
For an uncontested one, it is generally simpler. There are a few essential parts, though. These are generally the cover sheet, the petition itself, the waiver and entry of appearance, and the proposed divorce decree. Thankfully, that is pretty much it for these instances, which means that it is not too difficult.
When there is some contest, or when there is an at-fault divorce, things get trickier (as is to be expected, unfortunately). What do I mean by “contest,” though? In this context, it is when there is a disagreement between the two spouses in terms of who will get what following the divorce. This is usually in regard to property or child custody, though it can also involve child support.
So, if you are looking to file a contested divorce, you should still include the cover sheet of course. However, a notable difference is that a summons will need to be added for the spouse in question. Then, there should still be the proposal of your divorce decree.
Is the Difficulty Worth it, in the end?
For the most part, the answer to this question will be yes. Even if you are dissolving a partnership mutually and for reasons such as no longer being compatible or just falling out of love, not having that marriage can be a huge weight off of both of your shoulders. So, in this way, it certainly is a worthwhile endeavor.
This is even more true when one partner is actively harming the other. Whatever the circumstances, there is zero excuse for something like this to be occurring. So, even if making the decision to get out of a situation like that is a challenging one, it is a step that I would encourage victims to make. I know all too well how hard it is, but I promise you that the freedom afterwards will be worth it.
Now, when it comes to figuring out the legal aspects of it all, obviously that is probably not something that most of us can do on our own. That is probably why there are so many divorce lawyers out there. Rest assured that there are plenty in Oklahoma who would be happy to assist you with the paperwork and filing.
It can be daunting to do all on our own, there is no doubt about that. If you feel this way, I hope that this article has helped you at least somewhat. I find that reading through the process and some of the circumstances can be quite helpful to boosting confidence when it comes to beginning it ourselves.