Grounds for Divorce in Oklahoma

Pearson Law- Your Stillwater, Oklahoma Divorce Attorney

Before 1953, in order to get a divorce in Oklahoma, parties had to prove one of eleven grounds for divorce with competent evidence. In 1953, the Oklahoma legislature added incompatibility as a ground for divorce therefore creating "no fault" divorce in Oklahoma. Now incompatibility is the most often used ground for divorce, but before no fault divorce was created in Oklahoma there was extensive litigation regarding the other fault based grounds. The current grounds, as outlined in Title 43, Section 101 of the Oklahoma States include:

1. abandonment for one (1) year. 

2. adultery

3. impotency

4. when the wife at the time of her marriage, was pregnant by another than her husband.

5. extreme cruelty

6. fraudulent contract

7. incompatibility

8. habitual drunkenness

9. gross neglect of duty

10. imprisonment of the other party in a state or federal penal institution under sentence thereto for the commission of a felony at the time the petition is filed

11. procurement of a final divorce decree without this state by a husband or wife which does not, in this state, release the other party from the obligations of marriage

12. insanity for a period of five (5) years with the insane person having been an inmate in a state institution for the insane or a private sanitarium, and affected with a type of insanity with a poor prognosis for recovery.

A review of the relevant case law confirms that prior to incompatibility, divorce in Oklahoma was much more difficult. Proving any one of the other grounds for divorce often led to extensive litigation and airing of marital dirty laundry in the public record. 

The legal definition of incompatibility has evolved over time. Shortly after the legislature created the new ground for divorce, the working definition was "a state of irremediable rift or discord produced by a reciprocal conflict of personalities." In the early to mid-1970s, the Oklahoma Supreme Court began holding that incompatibility existed when there was "such a conflict of personalities as to destroy the legitimate aims of the marriage." It is important to note that the Court has held that a divorce could not be denied on the grounds of incompatibility solely because one spouse opposes the divorce. This means that only one party needs to prove that the parties are incompatible and, a divorce can be granted even when the evidence shows that the party seeking the divorce contributed to the incompatibility in the relationship.

Are you considering seeking a divorce in Stillwater, Oklahoma or the surrounding communities? Contact Pearson Law today to discuss your divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, and other family law needs. (405) 338-1118