Divorces, Annulments, and Separations

October 15th, 2018

By Lori Lindsey

Almost everyone enters into a marriage with the belief that it will last and two people will live together until one or both of them dies. However, that is not always the reality. Oklahoma recognizes three methods for a married couple to no longer live together in marital harmony. Two of these methods terminate the marriage, while the third does not.

Divorce is a legal termination of a marriage. In Oklahoma, there are twelve recognized grounds for divorce.

The vast majority of divorces cite incompatibility for the reason for dissolving a marriage. By citing incompatibility, one partner can get a divorce over the objection of the other partner. This is called a unilateral divorce. Incompatibility exists where there is no possibility of reconciliation.

Other grounds for divorce recognized in Oklahoma are: abandonment for one year; adultery; impotency; wife pregnant by another at time of marriage; extreme cruelty; fraudulent contract; habitual drunkenness; gross neglect of duty; imprisonment for felony; divorce in another state without personal jurisdiction over one spouse; and institutionalization for insanity for five years.

In a divorce action, eight kinds of relief are available:

  1. Dissolution of marriage
  2. Custody and visitation order for minor children of the marriage
  3. Child support and medical care order for minor children of the marriage
  4. Property division
  5. Support alimony
  6. Restoration of maiden or former name
  7. Attorneys’ fees and costs
  8. Restraining order or other appropriate injunctive relief

A second way to terminate a marriage is an annulment. This is a judicial declaration of the invalidity of a marriage due to a defect existing at the beginning of the marriage. This type of termination can only be sought if the marriage was void or voidable. Void marriages never legally existed. This includes cases of bigamy (you can’t be married to two people at the same time) or incest (you can’t marry close blood relatives in Oklahoma). Because both of these are illegal, the marriage was never truly valid in the eyes of the state. Voidable marriages are valid until annulled. Examples of voidable marriage include underage marriage; mental incapacity; remarriage within six months; or fraud, misrepresentation, duress, error, lack of consent.

Six types of relief are available for an annulled marriage:

  1. Declaration of invalidity of the marriage
  2. Custody and visitation order of minor children
  3. Child support and medical care order for minor children
  4. Property division
  5. Attorneys’ fees and costs
  6. Temporary alimony (only available during the pendency of an action to annul a voidable marriage; not available for a void marriage)

The last way to no longer live in marital harmony is a Separate Maintenance action. This is also known as alimony without divorce. This does not terminate the marriage. The grounds for a separate maintenance action are the same as divorce.

There are six types of relief available for a separate maintenance action:

  1. Custody and visitation order for minor children of the marriage
  2. Child support and medical care for minor children of the marriage
  3. Property division
  4. Support alimony
  5. Attorneys’ fees and costs
  6. Restraining order or other appropriate injunctive relief.

If one spouse brings an action for separate maintenance, the other spouse can countersue for divorce.