The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that Oklahoma is the state with the third highest divorce rate in the country with 4.4 out of 1,000 people getting divorced. The first ranked state is Oklahoma’s neighboring Arkansas with 4.8 out of 1,000 people. These are actually a decrease from Oklahoma’s 1990 divorce rate of 7.7 out of 1,000 people but still mark a particularly high divorce rate in Oklahoma. In addition to this high divorce rate in the state of Oklahoma, Oklahoma legislature also claims that the falling rate of marriages in the United States shows that marriage as an institution is losing credibility.
House Bill 1227
In an effort to increase the difficulty of obtaining a divorce, the Oklahoma legislature voted on House Bill 1227 which added barriers to using incompatibility as a reason for divorce in the state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma legislature hopes to lead more couples towards reconciliation or have the couple provide a more concrete reason for which to end the marriage by approving the bill. House Bill 1227 is currently awaiting to be heard by the House of Representatives.
Earlier Versions of House Bill 1227
The original version of House Bill 1227 made it impossible for a court in Oklahoma to grant a divorce for incompatibility if a couple either: had been married for more than ten years, had a living child under age eighteen, or if either spouse objected to the divorce. While passing through legislation, House Bill 1227 was slightly altered so that a divorce will be granted due to incompatibility only once a couple attends an educational program about the impact of divorce. House Bill 1227 would also change language so that courts can require both parties in a divorce to be at their own expenses including the fee for an attorney. If a spouse is able to demonstrate that the other party caused the divorce, however, then the responsible party must pay for the other’s expenses. An individual who caused the divorce can also only receive one quarter of the couple’s marital property with the other three quarters being awarded to the other spouse. A spouse will be considered responsible for the divorce if the spouse commits one of the following: adultery, drunkenness, extreme cruelty, impotency, or insanity for at least five years.
Current Basis for Divorce in Oklahoma
The state of Oklahoma often recognizes claims of incompatibility even if based on ambiguous circumstances. Incompatibility means that spouses are not getting along and do not have enough in common to make a marriage work. While Oklahoma does not have a no-fault divorce option, the state does allow for divorce on the ground of incompatibility even in cases where the other spouse does not desire a divorce.
Contact a Skilled Oklahoma Family Law Attorney
If you require the assistance of a skilled Oklahoma attorney, do not hesitate to contact attorney Jim A. Lyon who has significant experience assisting individuals through the divorce process.