Common Issues in a Divorce

  • Physical Custody: a parent's right to have the child live with them. Usually discussed in "overnights" with each parent in a given year.
  • Legal Custody: a parent's right to make decisions for the child about issues like daycare, school, religion, or medical care. Not always related to physical custody.
  • Child Visitation: the term for when the child spends time with each parent. Not always counted in terms of overnight visits.
  • Child Support: money paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the minor child.

Think about what each spouse owns, individually or with the other spouse. 

  • Real: Considered land, a home, or a mineral interest.
  • Personal: Items like furniture, cars, and even pets.
  • Financial assets: Retirement accounts, bank accounts, or investments.
  • Debts/obligations: Money owed on loans, credit cards, or to other creditors. A mortgage is considered a marital debt, but can be split separately from ownership in the property.

The judge will look at how the property is owned. Oklahoma law splits property into one of two categories: Separate and Marital. Separate property is usually not considered part of the divorce and it will remain with the spouse who owned it before marriage. 

  • Separate: land or personal possessions owned before the date of marriage or that have been held completely separate from the marriage.
  • Marital: land or personal possessions purchased or created during the marriage. Does not always matter if the property is titled to only one spouse.
  • Separate Maintenance/Alimony: money paid by one spouse to the other to cushion the financial blow of a divorce. Usually only temporary and intended to support the spouse while they look for other income.
  • Name Change: Oklahoma allows a woman to go back to the last name she used before the marriage.


A Common Law Marriage does not have a ceremony. It must be proven in court by the person claiming that a Common Law Marriage exists. A Common Law Marriage may exist when the parties agree at the same time that they are married. This is commonly proven through actions by the “spouses” consistent with a marriage, saying to others they are married, living together, and/or the community recognizing the marriage as valid. 

*Only a judge in court can determine if a Common Law Marriage actually exists.

This is the reason why the judge would grant a divorce. Other grounds exist, but incompatibility is most commonly used. This is considered "no fault". Incompatibility as a reason for divorce makes it easy for judge to grant the divorce. 

Only one spouse has to agree that the marriage is beyond repair for the judge to grant the final order in the divorce.

Petition - A formal request made through the court that starts a legal case.

Petitioner - The person who started the case, typically using a petition.

Respondent - The person to whom the petitioner is asking for something.

Party - A person who is part of a court case like a divorce.

Temporary Order - A decision made between the parties or the judge about issues within the marriage. This order will be overwritten when the case concludes with a final order.

Final Order - A decision made between the parties or judge about all issues brought up in the divorce. This order is enforceable through the court and will remain in place until changed by a judge in court.

Service - Officially providing the paperwork starting a legal case to the other party.

Entry of Appearance and Waiver - A document signed by the Respondent agreeing to accept service and the terms of the potential final order. 

90 Day Period - Divorces with children must wait 90 days from the date of filing the petition to finish with a final order. 

Modification - Opening the case again after the final order has been filed. Must meet certain criteria to reopen a case.

Parenting Class - A specific child custody class required by Oklahoma law for divorcing parties.

Last Review and Update: Mar 13, 2023
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