Agreeing on an amicable divorce can be challenging for couples on the verge of a breakdown, but it is a reasonable goal. First of all, it makes the painful divorce process less tiring emotionally for all involved. Second, when both spouses agree to dissolve their marriage and sort out all divorce-related issues without taking the matter to trial, they can have a much more affordable uncontested divorce. In Oklahoma, they can make it even faster and simpler by submitting all the paperwork at once in a waiver dissolution of marriage.
What exactly does an uncontested divorce imply in Oklahoma? As the name suggests, a divorce is considered uncontested when the couple decides against contesting the distribution of their marital assets and debts, the payment of alimony (spousal support), and (if they have minor children) issues of child custody, visitation, and child support. The less problematic these issues are, the fewer chances that the spouses will need legal representation beyond a one-time consultation with a lawyer.
To help you navigate your uncontested divorce, here’s what you should know before starting.
Tip #1 Make Sure You Qualify for an Uncontested Divorce in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has no special requirements for divorcing spouses other than residency rules. To file for divorce in Oklahoma, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months and in the county where you file for at least 30 days.
However, grounds for divorce are another crucial part of an uncontested case in Oklahoma. To keep it quick and straightforward, you cannot pursue a fault-based divorce because they require substantial proof in court. An uncontested divorce implies using a no-fault ground. It means that neither party is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. The spouses simply claim incompatibility as the cause of the breakup.
The final piece in making your divorce proceedings sweet and easy is requesting a waiver dissolution of marriage in Oklahoma. If you and your spouse are successful in untangling all your complex issues of custody, support, property division, and debt allocation, you are eligible to skip the service of process. It means that the filing spouse – the petitioner – does not need to serve the other spouse – the respondent – with the divorce papers. Both spouses prepare the paperwork, including a waiver of service notification, and apply for a divorce together, submitting all the documents at once. Although the waiting period in Oklahoma divorces is typically 90 days, couples without minor children are subjected to only a 10-day waiting period if they qualify for a waiver dissolution of marriage.
Tip #2. Make Sure You Handle All Child-Related Issues Correctly
Having minor children does not automatically mean that your divorce process is doomed to be long and expensive. It all depends on how you and your spouse view your parental responsibilities and child care post-divorce. If you are ready to sort out arrangements for your child(ren) without a hassle, you and your spouse should be able to work out agreements in the child’s best interests. Whether you handle your divorce paperwork with or without an attorney should not prevent you from consulting a mediator or parenting coordination to ensure that visitation schedules and custody arrangements are exactly what your child and your family situation require.
If you and your spouse reached a sensible visitation schedule outlined in the submitted parenting plan, the judge would typically approve it as long as it meets the child’s best interests. However, Oklahoma law obliges all divorcing parents to attend parenting classes to make sure parties are aware of the emotional impact of divorce on children and their parental and financial responsibilities. The court expects proof of completion submitted alongside other divorce forms.
Tip #3. Don’t Lose Time if You’re Having Property Disputes
Even when divorcing spouses have the best intentions, property distribution can still derail the divorce process. Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state where only marital assets are split 50/50, whereas separate property is left intact. However, if spouses contest what is separate property or struggle to value their marital assets or divide debts, financial advisors or qualified attorneys can help. Keep in mind that marital assets include not only real estate and joint bank accounts but also furniture, motor vehicles, electronics, debts, insurances, and pension plans.
If you have been married for over 10-15-20 years, especially if either you or your spouse is in the military, dividing pensions and insurance can be complicated. To get a fair percentage of your 401(k) balance, social security benefits, and other types of retirement savings, you may need to hire a plan administrator who will issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and add it to the divorce documents required to be approved by the court.
Tip #4. Consider a DIY Divorce
If you and your spouse agreed on all matters and everything looks relatively uncomplicated, you can handle it as a do-it-yourself divorce. It implies that spouses prepare an application for divorce online by themselves. Filing for divorce online or getting a divorce over the Internet is not possible yet. However, you can use one of the online divorce forms preparation companies oklahomaonlinedivorce.com, also referred to as online divorce companies, to complete the necessary forms for your uncontested case. Just go to an internet divorce company website, fill out a complete divorce online questionnaire, print out the completed forms, and sign and notarize the documents. Then file the paperwork at the local courthouse and pay the filing fees.
Tip #5. Don’t Have One Divorce Lawyer for the Two of You
Being on good terms with your spouse should not prevent you from protecting your best interests. One attorney cannot represent and consult both spouses. Conflicts of interest are unavoidable. Even if you both decide to use no legal representation in the court, don’t rob yourself of at least getting legal consultation. You must be confident that all assets and debts are split fairly and that your interests are protected. Most attorneys handle divorces at a flat fee, but it is possible just to consult.
Tip #6. Don’t Underestimate Mediation
If you encounter controversial issues in the middle of your presumably simple uncontested divorce, it doesn’t mean that you need to have a contested case and go to trial. To avoid slipping into contestation, engage a mediator and sort out all the issues. Yes, using a mediator is likely to increase the cost of divorce, but it will be more inexpensive than going to trial.
4 Tips for an Uncontested Divorce with Child Custody
Even couples with minor children can have an uncomplicated divorce in Oklahoma. If the parents have worked out all the details of the visitation schedule and custody terms, divorce may be quicker than you may think.
- Prepare Beforehand. As soon as you and your partner start discussing a divorce, make up your mind about child custody and support. Choose between sole, joint, or divided custody and see who wants what share and what kind of child custody. Then work out how you can cooperate to the benefit of the child. Review the Oklahoma guidelines for child support and use an Oklahoma child support calculator to help you determine who pays how much. Remember that if your parenting plan is unfair and/or detrimental to the child’s best interests, the judge will require you to modify it.
- Get the Right Forms. Having minor children should not prevent parents from having a quick web divorce. Just make sure the legal forms you fill out are the correct ones for an uncontested divorce with children. Failure to fill out and submit the correct forms will cost you time and money. Be attentive.
- Use Mediation If You and Your Spouse Disagree. You must sort out many aspects of legal and physical custody before the judge will sign the parenting plan. If parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule or the amount of support, it is essential to find a professional mediator to avoid a bitter fight. Some things can be too complicated or personal to resolve without a third party.
- Make the Child’s Interests the Top Priority. All US courts keep the child’s best interests at the heart of all their decisions in child custody cases. If you draw your parenting plan and any custody arrangements focusing on this principle, you will handle child custody and support peacefully and efficiently. What should you keep in mind?
- The child needs a relationship and communication with both parents;
- the parents should respect and facilitate the special bond between the child and the other parent;
- the child’s preferences;
- and each parent’s desire for custody or residency
The parents should do their best to communicate and cooperate over these issues. When making a custodial decision, it is important to account for the child’s relationships with both parents, siblings, and other family members and the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community. Each parent’s work schedule should also be considered.