Every state has its own rules and procedures for filing a divorce. Here's what you need to know to get started with your Oklahoma divorce (also called a "dissolution of marriage").
You must meet a state's residency requirements before you can file for divorce in its courts. To get a divorce in Oklahoma, one of the spouses must be a resident of Oklahoma for at least six months immediately before the divorce is filed. (Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 43, § 102 (2022).)
The divorce can be filed in the district court in:
(Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 43, § 103 (2022).)
Oklahoma allows both "no-fault" and "fault-based" divorces. A no-fault divorce is one in which the court doesn't require either spouse to prove that the other's bad acts were the cause of the divorce. In a fault-based divorce, one or both of the spouses must show that the other's actions caused (were "grounds for") the failure of the marriage.
No-fault divorces in Oklahoma reach resolution faster than fault-based divorces because the spouses don't have to argue about or prove who was responsible for the divorce. Oklahoma courts will grant a no-fault divorce when one of the spouses claims that the couple is "incompatible." (Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 101 (2022).)
In a fault-based divorce, one or both spouses will have to present evidence to the judge that proves that the other spouse committed acts that meet one of Oklahoma's fault-based grounds for divorce. Any of the following can be grounds for a fault-based divorce in Oklahoma:
(Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 101 (2022).)
No-fault divorces based on incompatibility are far more common than fault-based ones in Oklahoma, and most of the fault-based grounds for divorce mentioned above are rarely used.
Generally, there are two types of divorce—uncontested and contested. An uncontested divorce is one where the spouses agree on all divorce-related matters, such as division of property, child custody, and alimony (spousal support). A contested divorce, on the other hand, is one where the spouses disagree on at least one topic and must ask a court to decide the issues in their divorce.
Uncontested divorces—also called "waiver" divorces in Oklahoma—usually reach resolution faster and are less expensive than contested divorces because there's no fighting in court. Instead, the judge needs only to review and approve the spouses' marital settlement agreement and issue a divorce decree.
To begin your Oklahoma uncontested divorce, you'll need to file a:
The state of Oklahoma doesn't provide forms for parties to use. Check with the clerk of the court where you will be filing to find out if the court offers local forms you can use.
A contested divorce begins when one of the spouses files a petition for divorce with the court. Along with a petition, the filing spouse will also have to file a:
Check with the court clerk's office to see if the court provides forms for parties to use.
Along with filing the right paperwork, you'll have to pay court filing fees to begin your divorce. Filing fees in Oklahoma vary from county to county, so you'll need to contact the court clerk's office to find out the fees at the court where you plan to file. For example, as of 2022 the filing fee for divorce is $252.14 in both Oklahoma County and Tulsa County.
If you can't afford to pay the filing fees, you can ask the judge to waive the fees. You can ask the court clerk for a form to request a waiver, or use the Pauper's Affidavit authored by Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma.
After you file the paperwork, you will need to provide notice to your spouse of the divorce by "serving" (delivering) copies of everything you filed with the court. You can serve your spouse by using one of the following methods:
You can't serve your spouse yourself—the server must be someone over the age of 18 who isn't a party to the divorce. (Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 2004 (2022).)
If you'd like to DIY your divorce, you can ask the court clerk's office for any divorce forms that have been approved by the court. You might be able to find some forms by searching online, but before you use them you'll want to make sure that they have been approved by the local court.
If you're working with an attorney, your attorney will assess your situation and fill out, file, and serve all the necessary forms. Many divorcing couples can't afford to hire an attorney to handle their entire case, but would like some assistance with completing and filing their forms. If this describes your situation, consider using an online divorce service or finding an attorney who will consult with you on an as-needed basis. Low-income individuals might qualify for reduced-fee or free legal aid.