Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state when it comes to the division of property. Unlike a community property state, marital assets are not divided 50-50 between spouses. Instead, the judge will look at the unique circumstances of a couple’s divorce and determine a fair and equitable split. Though an equitable split may be equal, it doesn’t have to be.
Marital vs. Separate Property
Not all property is up for asset division. Only marital property is split between spouses. Separate property is not divisible, although there are cases when the separate property becomes marital property.
- Marital Property
Marital property refers to any assets gained during the course of the marriage. Even if the title is only under one spouse’s name, the asset is still considered marital property. Property gained during a marriage is assumed to be marital unless one spouse proves otherwise. Assets prior to a finalized divorce but after separation may be considered marital or separate property depending on whether joining assets or efforts were used to obtain the property.
There are two types of property that are still considered separate property even if gained during a marriage: an inheritance given to one spouse and a gift that one spouse receives.
- Separate Property
Separate property refers to assets owned prior to the marriage and any assets gained with separate property. If a separate asset increases in value during a marriage, it is considered separate property unless the increase was because of both spouses’ efforts.
Separate property can become marital property in Oklahoma. This can be done accidentally, where separate and marital assets are combined without the spouse’s understanding of the repercussions. It can also be done purposefully, where the separate asset is listed under both spouses’ names because of an intentional change.
Though separate property is not included in the division of assets, it may be included in spousal support payments.
Separation Agreement Outside of Court
The rules of equitable distribution apply if the court has to decide how assets are split. If you and your spouse are working together on a divorce or can negotiate, it’s far better to determine asset division through mediation. That way, you and your spouse can decide how assets are split and have control over other terms in your separation agreement. Mediation is also less expensive than litigation and more private. Oklahoma courts strongly encourage couples to attempt a separation agreement rather than litigation.
Once you and your spouse create a separation agreement, you submit that agreement to the judge. The judge will approve the agreement and make it a court order if they believe the terms to be fair and equitable for both parties.
How the Court Determines Equitable Distributions
It’s not always possible for divorcing couples to come to an agreement on separation terms. If a divorce enters litigation, the judge will decide what assets each spouse receives in separation.
Oklahoma doesn’t have specific factors to judge equitable property division but does offer judges guidelines. Judges can consider a number of factors, such as:
- Each spouse’s rights in the property and the property’s value
- Each spouse’s contributions to acquiring marital property
- Each spouse’s income, ability to work, and earning capacity
- The involvement of any children
- Which spouse will have primary custody
- If one spouse will be awarded spousal support
- Each spouse’s debts
- Conduct of each spouse in the marriage that has impacted any marital asset’s value
- Any financial or economic sacrifices a spouse made to care for the home or children
Having an attorney in court to advocate for your interests can help you get your equitable charge of assets.
Valuation of Property
During the divorce process, spouses must provide each other and the court with complete financial information. This information includes:
- Income and sources of income
- Assets, including property
Determining the value for some of these assets is simple for things like bank and investment accounts but more difficult for real estate or businesses. In these cases, it’s useful to hire a professional appraiser or forensic accountant to determine the value of your assets. Accurate property valuation is essential to the equitable distribution process.
Q: How Are Assets Divided in an Oklahoma Divorce?
A: Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state, meaning marital assets are divided fairly and not necessarily equally between spouses. The court will look at several factors about the marriage, including financial contributions and misconduct, and determine what is equitable for a couple’s unique situation. Spouses who don’t want assets divided by equitable distribution can determine asset division by negotiating with each other and creating a separation agreement outside of court. A couple can also create a post- or prenuptial agreement to determine how assets are divided.
Q: Can My Wife Take My House if I Bought It Before Marriage in Oklahoma?
A: If the home is considered one spouse’s separate property, they will own it after divorce. However, separate property can become marital property if there are financial contributions to the property by both spouses’ joint efforts. If one spouse owned the home prior to marriage, but the other spouse made monetary contributions to mortgage payments, or if payments on the home were made with marital assets, it becomes marital property. Marital property is up for equitable division. The court may order the house sold and the spouses to split profits if they can’t agree on how it is divided.
Q: What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce Settlement in Oklahoma?
A: Both spouses are entitled to a fair proportion of material assets in an Oklahoma divorce. Marital property is anything gained by either spouse during a marriage, excluding gifts and inheritance provided to only one spouse. The court will use several factors to determine what is an equitable split.
Q: What Are the 12 Grounds for Divorce in Oklahoma?
A: A spouse can file for a no-fault divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. For a fault-based divorce in Oklahoma, the 11 grounds for separation are:
- Abandonment for one year
- Entering a marriage pregnant from someone other than the spouse
- Extreme cruelty
- Fraudulent contract
- Gross neglect of duty
- Imprisonment from a felony
- Divorce decree in another state that isn’t valid in Oklahoma
Stange Law Firm: Your Tulsa Divorce Attorneys
An experienced divorce attorney can help you and your spouse mediate property division and a separation agreement. If mediation isn’t possible, an attorney is an invaluable asset to defend your interests in court. Contact Stange Law Firm today.