The increased interest in filing for divorce online in Oklahoma is mainly due to the high divorce rate and the legal system’s subsequent heavy workload. In 2018, Oklahoma had 21 divorces per 1,000 married women and held the third-highest dissolution rate among the states, according to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research.
But the main reason why there is such a great demand for online divorce assistance resources is convenience and low cost compared to lawyer fees. This article explains how and who can use these online methods of obtaining and filing divorce papers, along with specifics of Oklahoma marriage dissolution laws.
Filing procedure in Oklahoma
Filing for divorce in Oklahoma consists of several stages. First, the petitioner (the filing spouse) must collect a package of required divorce papers. The forms may vary, depending on the type of divorce, the presence of minor children, the amount of property, etc. Then, the petitioner submits documents to the court and receives a case number.
The next step is to notify the other spouse (the respondent) about the marriage dissolution initiation. According to civil procedure rules, the respondent must receive a copy of the Petition and Summons and sign the affidavit. Typically, the petitioner hires a process server or pays a sheriff to deliver these documents. A newspaper posting can be used when the other spouse’s whereabouts are unknown and the petitioner is unable to find them.
What are online divorce services, and how to use them?
Many have heard of divorce over the Internet, but not everybody understands what it really means. These services provide papers to couples with an uncontested divorce. Some of them assist with a settlement agreement and calculate child and spousal support. Other web divorce companies even file their clients’ cases with the court.
Essential documents to start a divorce process include:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage;
- Settlement Agreement;
- Parenting Plan;
- Child Support Sheet;
- Final Decree.
To apply for divorce, a person must go through an online verification procedure. If everything is in order, they register and proceed to an online questionnaire. The questions are related to their marriage, children, property, etc.
A few days after submitting the required information, they receive all the necessary papers, ready to be filed with the court. A couple cannot obtain an official final judgment and complete divorce online without an actual judge. The spouse would probably have to attend a court hearing, especially if child custody is in question.
DIY divorce vs. Internet divorce in Oklahoma
A do-it-yourself divorce means that spouses collect necessary papers and file them with the court without an attorney. Since Oklahoma law allows a person to represent themselves in a proceeding, a married couple can save substantial money on lawyers.
Getting a divorce in this way is not suitable for spouses with unresolved conflicts. Those who cannot agree on the property division, alimony, and child custody should seek legal assistance.
Another relatively inexpensive and fast way to get the paperwork done is using an online service. The main advantage of such websites is that they complete the paperwork according to the state standards and guarantee court approval. “Quick papers preparation” usually means approximately two business days.
Who can qualify for a web divorce?
There are several conditions for spouses to fill out an application for divorce online. Firstly, one of them must meet Oklahoma residency requirements. To file in this state, either the petitioner or respondent must live in Oklahoma for six months before the legal action.
Another necessary condition for using online services is that spouses agree with each other and pursue an uncontested divorce. In this case, their grounds for divorce cannot be adultery, abandonment, or other fault-based grounds. The no-fault ground that couples with an amicable dissolution choose in Oklahoma is called “incompatibility.”
The spouses also discuss the terms of their marriage dissolution and compromise when needed. The key results of the negotiation process must include child custody and support, alimony, property division.
Spouses with minor children have to decide how to divide their child’s time between the parents. The parties who pursue joint custody can file a parenting plan with a detailed visitation schedule and provisions about who will decide their children’s health, education, and other issues. A judge will review the proposed parenting plan and approve or reject it. There is an extended waiting period for spouses with children. Under Oklahoma law, such couples must wait for 90 days after the filing before the final hearing.
As a rule, a married couple divides only assets and debts that they acquired during their marriage. It includes real estate, vehicles, money in bank accounts, furniture, and debts. Separate property, such as direct inheritance and everything bought before the wedding, goes to its original owner. Spouses sometimes hire a property appraiser to help them evaluate their marital estate and divide it reasonably.
Separate maintenance, or alimony, is financial support provided by one spouse to another. Alimony is not a prerequisite if the couple breaks up amicably. However, most spouses agree on a reasonable monthly or lump-sum payment, especially when spouses experience financial difficulties after separation. Since Oklahoma has no clear rules on calculating spousal support, its amount is hard to predict if the case goes to a court trial.
The cost of divorce in Oklahoma
Uncontested cases are less expensive than high-conflict ones. But even couples with amicable marriage dissolution who proceed without a lawyer have to pay filing fees. Their amount varies depending on the case circumstances and the county court rules. The difference is usually very slight. For instance, in Oklahoma County, a couple will pay $252 when initiating their marriage dissolution, and in Cleveland County – $242.
The price of online paperwork preparation starts from $150-$300. Considering that all papers are processed and sent to the client within just a few days, this price is reasonable for comfort and promptness. However, these websites do not include filing fees and service of the papers on the respondent. Service of process by certified mail costs about $10, while a Sheriff’s help would cost around $50. Yet, many online services are still more affordable than hiring a lawyer.