In the USA, there are many routes you can take to file for anything including a divorce.
The idea of divorce in the United States is legally also known as “dissolution of marriage”, and entails a legal process that involves a specific type of authority, namely a judge dissolves an existing marriage and in which couples restore their statuses of being single. This then permits them to marry other individuals.
Under the jurisdiction of the state government, divorce and marriage are both a none federal government issue. Divorce can be a messy situation if not handled correctly and can involve not just the couple separating but also other sub-categories and aspects as part of it, such as child support, custody of children, spousal support and the distribution of personal property and assets, as well as any debts involved in the case.
The average length for a marriage in the United States in the 21st century was found to be 11 years. 90% of which are settled and sorted outside of a court. Amongst educated people who married before the 20th century, this rate was a mere 11%. There have been cases where couples serve each other divorce papers through social media platforms like Facebook, such as the case of this Brooklyn woman who served her papers to her spouse. Click here to read the full story.
Grounds for Divorce in the US
This and many other divorces take place daily in all other countries as well. While the laws in every country may differ. In the United States, the grounds for divorce may be different. The regulations specify the circumstances towards the divorce and in each state, there are a set of individual grounds.
The requirement is to state the reason for wanting a divorce, and once this reason is established as a sound one, the trial begins. In some states the couple must be living apart for several months before this can happen, however, if they are already living apart and then ask for a divorce, it may not be accepted as grounds for divorce.
Couples in this country are allowed to separate or end a marriage by filing a legal requirement of separation either through no fault or fault reasons. For the past couple of years, in the majority of the states, only no-fault divorce is allowed.
Difference Between a Fault and No-fault Divorce
Both these criteria each have their specific criteria to be met. While there are several different reasons, there are just as many defenses for each category.
Nowadays most states recognize this type of divorce reason and do not claim to be a reason for the deterioration of any marriage. This way is usually considered when there is no particular reason or act implemented by either spouse i.e. none of them are at fault.
Instead, it is usually considered as an “irreparable breakdown of marriage” or “irreconcilable differences” in the eyes of the states’ law. In this case, it would typically be a scenario where the couple does not get along and nothing can be done to fix their partnership and their marriage is considered beyond repair.
The second type of separation is the fault one. Even though some of the states only acknowledge the no-fault grounds, some couples may submit their divorce as a fault one. This is usually done because they get some benefit from it, or the period of separation and staying apart has been met, thereafter they can file for this type of claim.
Some of the many common fault grounds that need to be met include the below:
In cases where either the husband or the wife or any one of the partners cannot perform sexually, it could be considered as a fault claim and, in some states, a valid reason for divorce.
Inhuman and Cruel Treatment
If it is simply a case of mild misconduct it may not make for a good cause. However, the mistreatment must be of an extreme circumstance such as physical and mental abuse which causes the partner to suffer over a period of time. If this is an ongoing issue it will be considered and continued cohabitation will be stopped until such a time as the split-up is finalized. It is viable proof in the eyes of the law.
Imprisonment or incarceration is also a type of fault, especially if one of the members is jailed for a certain length of time, for instance over one year.
In the case where one of the spouses is confined to a complicated mental illness for a long period of time, it can be considered as grounds for an annulment.
One of the most common reasons for people splitting up their marriage, unfortunately, is adultery. Considered a fault-based reason, it involves an adult having sexual intercourse with someone outside of their spouse. Circumstantial evidence is usually used to prove this, for example, evidence that shows the significant other is having a relationship with someone else, and where a romantic interest is present.
Proof needs to be shown, through written evidence, video evidence or any other form of indication and the judge will decide on whether this is valid enough or not. Some of the defenses in such a case involve forgiving the partner of his or her behavior, or both parties being guilty of the same act, and in some cases may resume the relationship with their spouse, but in most cases, this is not the result. Some people may find it difficult to forgive their other half, especially if they have been in a marriage for a particular timeframe.
If, however the person who had relations with someone else outside of their marriage is remorseful and sees the need to find out the reasons why it was done, to begin with, and seek help, have a better chance of saving their nuptial agreement than those who deny their actions. According to this article, cheaters need to be remorseful before any forgiveness takes place.
If they, for example, are willing to take on couples counseling or seek help from a professional, chances are they can save their partnership and go back to being loyal again. Even though it may take a lot of hard work, in many cases this can be done.
Another fault-based ground the state may accept is abandonment. If the spouse leaves the partner for more than one year it could be considered a good reason to allow them to split up. Especially in cases where the abandonment was a voluntary act, even if they try to reconcile things it may not be a strong enough reason to accept it.
Things and habits such as substance abuse, involving constant drug addiction or drunkenness, when there is a possibility of them rectifying it but would not do it, are also good reasons the state will consider.
The Paperwork That Is Required in The Case of a Divorce in Oklahoma
In order to explain the proper procedure, we discuss the state of Oklahoma. During this process, there are a few different things you need in terms of the correct paperwork to file for a claim to separate or end your marriage to your partner.
In this case, specific Oklahoma uncontested divorce forms are needed, which can be acquired from your lawyer, or solicitor. You would need what’s known as a” Petition for Dissolution of Marriage Form”. In some states this is also known as a D8 form and is the first step that marks the beginning of the process.
One of the spouses will complete the form, they would be known as the “petitioner”, and once it has been properly completed, it is then sent to the other person to look through and sign. This process can be done either via post, hand-delivered or picked up from the lawyers.
The entire process from start to finish can take anywhere up to 22 weeks if things go according to plan. There is however a very strict criterion when taking these forms to your divorce lawyer. They cannot be handed to the clerk at the courts before one day has passed from when it was filed. In the case, this does happen it will be considered a void document and will need to be re-done after a certain period has passed and then needs to be resigned and notarized by the correct authorities.
Before the signed paperwork is sent to the lawyers, a certified copy of the civil partnership or marriage needs to be provided as well as payment needs to be made to the court. If the fee is not paid the process cannot begin and time will be wasted.
In the case where you both belong to a low-income household; the court may exempt this fee. Usually, the petitioner pays this fee. However, if they cannot do so, sometimes an arrangement is made for the other person to do this or for both to split the fee between them.
The 4-step Legal Process of Getting a Divorce
The four-step process then is:
- The first of the paperwork, i.e. the divorce is filed using the D8 petition form
- The fees for the court is paid, each state will have a different cost
- Then a “Decree Nisi” application is sent to the court, which is the document stating that they see no reason why the couple cannot get an annulment. Read more about this here
- Lastly, the “Decree Absolute” is presented, which is another legal document from the court, stating the separation has been granted and the marriage has officially ended.
In a case such as this, both the petitioner (person making the original claim) and the respondent (person receiving the paperwork) have very different roles. The former has the responsibility of filing the case and making sure all the paperwork is acquired, filled in and signed, and the latter has the responsibility of doing their bit in receiving the paperwork and signing it, however the more time they waste on procrastinating the process the more tedious things can get.
In the case where a marriage cannot be saved and this is the last resort, it is always best to hire a professional to help you out, as emotions can get the better of every individual and mar the entire process if they have thrown in their personal feelings into the mix. It is also a good idea to remain separated, or apart from each other once the process begins as it can be difficult to stay in the same home when you know you will no longer be with your significant other, and in cases where children are involved, it can get messy.