Oklahoma Divorce Laws
Under Oklahoma Law, the process of divorce begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, also known as a Petition for Divorce. After the divorce is filed, the process has begun and other Oklahoma laws take effect.
Automatic Temporary Injunction
Immediately upon filing the Petition for Dissolution with the court, the law requires parties to do or not do certain things. This law is also an order of the court and is called the Automatic Temporary Injunction. You and your spouse MUST obey the requirements set out in the injunction unless you both agree to waive it in writing. It requires the following of each of you:
- Do not transfer (sell or give away), encumber (take a loan on), conceal, destroy or dispose of property. Except in the usual course of business, to retain a lawyer, or for the necessities of life.
- Do not alter or withdraw from any retirement plan
- Do not cancel or alter any insurance policy.
- Do not open or divert mail intended to go to your spouse.
- Do not sign or endorse your spouse’s name.
- Do not disturb the peace of the other party or children.
- Do not disrupt or withdraw the children from an educational facility
- Do not hide or keep your children from your spouse.
- Do not remove the children from Oklahoma
- DO provide financial records within thirty days.
A violation of any of the above provisions may be enforceable through contempt of court or by any other remedy available under Oklahoma laws.
Proper Conduct Order
A Proper Conduct Order is an order by a judge for couples with children. It informs parents what conduct is, and is not appropriate when they are around each other, or the children. Generally, this amounts to telling them to not discuss the other parent with the children, engage in certain behavior that may be physically, emotionally, or psychologically harmful to the children, and not to expose the children to certain types of places or people.
A Temporary Order is an order by a judge that decides how certain issues will be handled while your divorce is pending. The order can be agreed upon by the spouses or argued in court in a short hearing. Issues commonly addressed in a Temporary Order include custody, child support, visitation, alimony, and who will have possession of what items of property while the divorce is pending. The court does not hear evidence at this hearing—so do not expect a lengthy court hearing. Often the temporary order hearing lasts only minutes. At the end of the case, Oklahoma divorce law automatically terminates the Temporary orders.
Discovery is the way information is gathered about the facts in a case. In a divorce, this legal process means gathering information about your spouse’s finances, property, and habits as they relate to the children. Oklahoma law provides for several methods your attorney can utilize to obtain information such as:
A deposition is an information gathering tool where the attorney can order a witness (including the other spouse) to appear at a location (usually the attorney’s office) so the attorney can ask recorded questions. The primary purpose of depositions is to determine what the witness will say at trial and to prevent them from later changing their story. Depositions in family law cases usually last between one and three hours.
Interrogatories are written questions issued by an attorney to the opposing party. In the case of an Oklahoma divorce, interrogatories can only be sent to the other spouse. Oklahoma law provides once the questions are served on the other spouse, they have 30 days to respond in writing. The purpose behind interrogatories is relatively straight forward, they allow the attorney to gather information about the other spouse. The drawback to using this method of discovery over a deposition is that the opposing attorney will filter the response. It also allows allows the other spouse time to potentially construct a lie.
Requests for Production of Documents
Attorneys can also send written requests for documents to the spouse in a divorce case. These requests also must be answered within 30 days. Commonly requested documents include health records, investment information, titles, deeds, etc. Oklahoma divorce law requires the parties to disclose the following information automatically:
- Past two years of tax returns, including supporting documents like W-2 forms
- Pay stubs from the past 2 months
- Bank statements from the past 6 months
- Information on available health insurance
- Child care expense information
- Information on any outstanding debts
A motion is a request for the court to make a decision whenever an issue arises that cannot be resolved. For instance, if your spouse refuses to comply with the above outlined discovery, a motion asking the court to force your spouse to comply may be needed.
The trial is where the judge decides the issues for you—which can be unpredictable. The more issues you settle out of court, the fewer issues there are in front of the judge. Trial is a lengthy process and requires a large amount of preparation by each spouse’s attorney. Each side gets to present to the judge his/her reasons why the issues should be ruled a certain way by testifying themselves, and bringing witnesses to testify to the facts in the case. During the trial, the judge will take each side’s recommendation, and come out with a decision of their own. Your attorney may also argue how to interpret the applicable laws. The judge’s ruling is reduced to writing and becomes the Decree of Dissolution, and the divorce is finalized.