Oklahoma Is a No-Fault Divorce State, Meaning That You Don’t Have to Allege Any Fault to File Divorce
Video Transcribed: What are the grounds for divorce in Oklahoma? I’m Tulsa family attorney James Wirth, and I’m answering frequently asked questions regarding Oklahoma family law. And that’s the question that we have is, “What are the various grounds for divorce in Oklahoma?”
So, first off, Oklahoma is like most States now, a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you don’t have to allege any fault. You can just allege irreconcilable incompatibility.
And if you’re doing that, you’re telling the court, “This marriage is damaged beyond repair. It cannot be fixed. Please dissolve it.”
And the court will grant that without requiring much proof, as long as you stayed under oath that that is the case.
Historically though, before we had no-fault divorce before we had to irreconcilable incompatibility, we had a list of for-cause divorces for fault divorces that could be proven, and those are still on the books and can still be alleged and proven in Oklahoma to get a divorce on that basis.
So what are those for-fault divorce grounds? First off, abandonment. And it’s got to be for a year or more. If one spouse runs off for more than a year, you can file for divorce on the basis of abandonment.
Second one is adultery. If you can prove that an adultery occurred, that can be a basis for divorce, as long as you didn’t condone it. Condonation is a law in Oklahoma, and it’s a defense to adultery. And that means that “Yes, there was adultery, but we continued to reside together.
They forgave me. We moved on, and now they’re requesting divorce on another basis, not the adultery.” So if you want to file a divorce on that basis, you got to be aware of that possible defense.
Next one is impotency. That is a ground for divorce in Oklahoma. Next one, when a wife at the time of her marriage was pregnant by somebody other than her husband.
Sometimes that involves some fraud, sometimes not, but if she’s pregnant by somebody else at the time of the marriage, that can be a ground for fault divorce.
Next one, extreme cruelty. You can get a divorce if your partner, if your spouse, is extremely cruel. And there’s some case law on that, but it’s very fact-specific to your circumstances.
Next one is a fraudulent contract. So if there was some sort of fraudulent inducement in the marriage, a lot of lying involved, then depending on your specific circumstances, we could look at the various case laws to find out exactly whether the threshold is met for a divorce on the basis of fraudulent contract.
Next one is habitual drunkenness, pretty straightforward. But it’s not enough to be drunk. He had to be habitually drunk, in which case you can request divorce on that basis.
Gross neglect of duty is the next one. If you think you have some arguments for that, write them down and get them together, contact me. We can see if that meets the threshold.
Imprisonment of the other party in a state or federal penal institution under a sentence for the commission of a felony at the time the petition is filed.
So, if at the time you’re filing for divorce, your spouse is in custody, federal or state, that’s not going to be pretrial detention. That’s got to be an actual felony sentence. Then that can be the basis of divorce.
Another one, your spouse went ahead and divorced you in another state that did not have proper personal jurisdiction over you. That could be a basis for a for-cause for an Oklahoma Divorce. And the last one insanity.
If your spouse is insane, you complete that in-court request to divorce on that basis, but it’s got to be for a period of five or more years of documented insanity.
And that term insanity is a little bit antiquated in the statute, but you’re going to need to show medical evidence that they’re essentially mentally incompetent on the basis of a mental health issue.
So, if you have questions about raising grounds for fault divorce, you can contact an attorney for that. One thing that I would tell you is most of the time, it doesn’t make sense to raise a fault divorce.
Usually the quickest, simplest way to get in and out for everybody but it is through no-fault or irreconcilable incompatibility. There are sometimes reasons why you might want to raise fault.
So, first off, some of these things may not make the other party look very good, and thinking that party doesn’t look very good, may subconsciously affect the judge and caused the judge to decide other things in your favor, because the fact that you were cheated on is not a basis for you to get a better property settlement.
It is not a basis for you to get custody, unless the party exposed the child to the adulterous relationship in a way that’s not in the best interest of the child, in which case it could be an argument.
But absent that, these factors will not get you other things in your divorce, unless maybe it sways the judge subconsciously, even though the statute says it’s not supposed to affect it.
Once you force the judge to hear it because he’s required to determine fault, and you’re making these things that would otherwise be irrelevant relevant in your final divorce, maybe it affects the other stuff.
Strategically, sometimes people put it in there for that reason. Just note, it’s likely to be contested. It could increase the cost of litigation, may be worth it, may not, something for you to consider with your family attorney.
So, any questions about that or your specific circumstances, you want to talk to somebody about that. You can talk to an Oklahoma family attorney by going to makelaweasy.com.