This section has basic information about divorce laws in Oklahoma. You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.
What are the residency requirements for divorce in Oklahoma?
To get a divorce in Oklahoma, you or your spouse must be:
- a resident of Oklahoma for the six months immediately before the petition is filed; or
- a resident of any United States army post or military reservation within Oklahoma for the six months immediately before the petition is filed.1
Note: The only exception is if you are filing for a divorce based on the ground of insanity, and either spouse is in an institution outside of Oklahoma. In that case, the spouse who files for divorce must be a resident of Oklahoma for at least five years before filing for divorce.2
1 OK ST T. 43 § 102
2 OK ST T. 43 § 101
What are the grounds for divorce in Oklahoma?
Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for divorce. You can get a divorce in Oklahoma without claiming that your spouse is at fault for reasons of “incompatibility.” If you get a divorce because of incompatibility and you have a minor child, you and your spouse must go to a class about the impact of divorce on your child.
The judge can also grant you a divorce in Oklahoma for certain “fault-based” grounds. The judge can grant you a fault-based divorce for the following reasons:
- abandonment for one year;
- if the wife was pregnant by another man when the couple got married;
- extreme cruelty;
- fraudulent contract;
- habitual drunkenness;
- gross neglect of duty;
- if either spouse is in jail or prison for a felony when the divorce petition is filed;
- if either spouse gets a divorce decree in another state, but that decree is not valid in Oklahoma;
- insanity, if all of the following are true:
- either spouse has been insane for at least five years;
- either spouse has been in a state institution in Oklahoma or another state, or in a private institution for the insane for at least five years; and
- three doctors have examined the insane spouse, including the superintendent of the spouse’s institution, and at least two of these doctors agree that the spouse has a poor chance of recovery from the insanity.Note: A divorce granted on grounds of insanity may mean the spouse who files for divorce still have to pay for the support and maintenance of the insane spouse.1.
1 OK ST T. 43 § 101
Can I get alimony?
Alimony is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse. You can get alimony with or without a divorce.1 Alimony can be paid all at once, or in installments, depending on what the judge thinks is fair.2
Judges may consider many different factors when determining whether to order alimony and how much alimony to order. The amount of alimony is generally up to the judge, and, unlike many other states, the judge does not rely on a set formula or list of factors.2 The judge has “wide discretion,” which means s/he has a lot of room to decide whether to give alimony and how much alimony to give.3
Some common factors a judge may consider are:
- whether you have shown that you need alimony to help financially adjust after the marriage ends;
- what status or “station” in life you’ve had so far;
- how much you and your spouse are each able to earn;
- your and your spouse’s physical and financial conditions;
- the way you and your spouse lived while married (“standard of living”); and
- evidence of your ability to make money on your own and the time it will take for you to become able to make money on your own.4
1 OK ST T. 43 § 129
2 OK ST T. 43 § 121(B)
3McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, 979 P.2d 257, 260 (Okla. 1999)
4Fisher v. Fisher, 171 P.3d 917, 922 (Okla. App. Div. 3 2007)
What are the basic steps to get a divorce?
While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps that a person may have to follow to obtain a divorce:
- First, you or your spouse must meet the residency requirements of the state you want to file in.
- Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
- Third, you must file the appropriate divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse - for the exact rules for serving the papers, contact your local courthouse or an attorney.
- Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then s/he will have the opportunity to file papers telling her/his side. In his/her response, the other party may express his/her opinion challenging the divorce, asking that it be granted under different grounds or letting the judge know that s/he agrees to the divorce. If your spouse contests the divorce, then you may have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. Also, if a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. (Speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers before you can continue with the divorce.)
- Fifth, if there are property, assets, a pension, debts, or anything else that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, then these issues may have to be dealt with during the divorce or else you may lose your chance to deal with these issues. The issues may be worked out during settlement negotiations and incorporated into the divorce decree or in a series of court hearings during the divorce. Custody and child support may also be decided as part of your divorce.
Where can I find additional information about divorce in Oklahoma?
The Oklahoma Bar Association gives answers to frequently asked questions about divorce.
WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the information on their sites. We provide these links for your information only.