I. What are the grounds for divorce?
Although there are 12 grounds for divorce in Oklahoma, only a few are commonly used. They are:
- Gross neglect of duty
- Extreme physical or mental cruelty
- Abandonment for a period of one year
II. What power does the divorce court have after the case is started?
The court will, at the time of trial or settlement, fairly divide the marital property and debts; address child custody/visitation and child support, and grant the divorce; it may award support alimony and attorney fees and costs, but does not always do so.
III. What happens after my petition has been filed?
At the time your petition is filed, a summons is issued by the court clerk. The petition and the summons must be served on your spouse by a private process server, deputy sheriff, or certified mail. At the same time, your attorney can make an application for a temporary order to be issued which would direct your spouse to take specific actions or restrain the spouse from doing certain things.
You will be required to appear in court to testify as to your need for each of the temporary requests you are making. After the papers have been served, the spouse has 20 days in which to file with the court clerk an answer. After an answer is filed, you will need to respond if a counterclaim is made.
Once the petition is served, an automatic temporary injunction (ATI) is in effect. The ATI is intended to protect both parties and has provisions prohibiting certain financial expenditures and modifications to certain accounts and policies, such as retirement accounts and insurance policies.
It also requires the parties to exchange certain documents within 30 days of service. Reading and abiding by the terms of the ATI is crucial. A party violating the ATI is subject to contempt of court.
IV. When is the temporary order granted?
You must file an application for temporary order listing your requests to the court. The court cannot grant a temporary order for custody, child support, possession of the property, alimony, or exclusion from your home until your spouse has been served with notice of a hearing at least five days prior to a hearing on your request.
Under a limited set of circumstances and by following specific procedures, you may be granted an emergency order of custody without notice to your spouse if there is the likelihood that immediate and irreparable harm will occur to your child(ren) without such an order. A hearing must be set within 10 days of this emergency order and notice of application filed and the hearing must be given to your spouse.
V. When is my divorce finalized?
It is finally the day it is granted by the judge and the decree is filed with the court clerk. You are a single person once the judge pronounces you divorced.
Oklahoma law prohibits remarriage or cohabitation with someone other than your now former spouse in the state of Oklahoma for a period of six months after the divorce is granted.
During these six months, should you and your spouse decide to reconcile during this period, a joint application can be filed in the court and the decree will be set aside, so long as neither party has remarried a third party during the interim.
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