Over the past two years, the ongoing health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has altered American life in countless ways, including dramatic effects on family dynamics throughout the nation. Marriage and divorce rates have noticeably changed across the country in many ways due to the pandemic, and taking a look at recent trends in Oklahoma marriage and divorce rates reveals some interesting insights.
If you are having trouble in your marriage, are concerned about getting married due to the state of the world, or are preparing to divorce in Oklahoma, the following trends are essential to understand. While American life has changed dramatically and suddenly in a brief time, it is crucial to make informed decisions about your own marriage and to know your legal options when it comes to Oklahoma family law.
Marriage and Divorce Trends in Oklahoma
As of September of 2021, Oklahoma reported the 18th highest marriage rate in the United States, with 6.3 marriages per 1,000 residents. The nationwide marriage rate hovers around 16.3 marriages per 1,000 residents. By comparison, Oklahoma ranked third in the nation for divorce rate at 3.9 divorces per 1,000 residents compared to a nationwide average of about 7.7 divorces per 1,000 residents.
Statistically, Oklahoma has consistently ranked among the top states in the nation for divorce rates. One of the reasons for this trend is the number of married couples living at or below the poverty line. Financial problems are one of the most commonly cited causes for divorce throughout the country, so it’s easy to see why couples struggling financially would be more likely to divorce than couples who have well-managed financial situations.
Most Common Reasons for Divorce in Oklahoma
Married couples decide to end their marriages for many reasons. However, some of the most commonly reported reasons for divorce in Oklahoma include:
- Financial problems. Couples that constantly fight about money may discover they have conflicting lifestyle preferences and expectations regarding personal finances. Over time, constant fights over money can easily cause a marriage to break down beyond the point of possible reconciliation.
- Infidelity. Most people who marry expect their spouses to be faithful to them. When one spouse engages in adulterous behavior, this can easily cause them to completely lose faith in the marriage and demand a divorce. If a married couple has a prenuptial contract that includes any terms regarding infidelity, one spouse’s adultery could have a tangible impact on the outcome of their divorce proceedings.
- Domestic violence. When a married spouse attacks or abuses their spouse, this may be all the victim needs to justify filing for divorce. When divorce results from an incident of domestic violence, the at-fault spouse is likely to face criminal prosecution in addition to divorce proceedings. The judge overseeing the divorce will also heavily consider the domestic violence incident in determining custody of the couple’s children if they have children together. The abuser will also likely be subject to a protective order and will be prohibited from contacting the victim in any way.
- Substance abuse. When one spouse struggles with any substance abuse disorder, this behavior can dramatically affect their marriage. While their spouse may try to be supportive and help them recover, repeated relapses and financial problems caused by their substance abuse can quickly lead to a breakdown of the marriage.
- Criminal behavior. If one spouse breaks the law, they could face divorce in addition to criminal prosecution. Their spouse may file for divorce on principle, or the term of their incarceration would mean their spouse would be unable to see them for many years.
- “Irreconcilable differences.” Oklahoma does not require a married person filing a divorce petition to list a specific fault or cause to proceed with a divorce. “Irreconcilable differences” is a blanket term used to indicate that a marriage has irretrievably broken beyond the point of possible reconciliation.
Suppose you are unsure whether you have grounds for divorce in Oklahoma. In that case, it is important to remember that you do not need to list a specific reason or point out any specific fault that your spouse has committed to cause you to file for divorce. Technically, you can file for divorce simply because you no longer wish to be married. However, it is crucial to consider your decision to file for divorce in Oklahoma very carefully. This is because the legal proceedings involved in a divorce are more complex than most people realize.
Preparing for Divorce in Oklahoma
When you have decided to file for divorce, or when your spouse has filed a divorce petition with the family court of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, or anywhere else in Oklahoma, it is essential to know what your divorce process is likely to entail and how to best prepare yourself for the problematic legal proceedings you face. Even when you are sure about your decision to divorce, the actual divorce process itself is more complicated and emotionally challenging than you may have initially expected. Therefore, making informed decisions about your divorce proceedings is crucial to have a positive and fulfilling experience through the process.
First, you should secure legal counsel. Attempting to navigate your divorce unassisted entails several risks, and you could end up with a divorce agreement that does not suit your interests or provides one-sided advantages to your spouse. However, a good Oklahoma divorce attorney can help you approach your divorce with confidence and explore your options for handling the situation effectively. For example, your divorce does not necessarily need to unfold in a courtroom if both you and your spouse are willing to try divorce mediation. This could potentially save both of you significant amounts of time, money, and stress in handling the end of your marriage.
Ultimately, marriages end for many reasons. It’s possible that your spouse’s divorce petition blindsided you, or perhaps you have seen your divorce coming for quite some time and are now bracing for the actual formal process to end your marriage. Whatever your situation entails, the best method for handling a divorce case effectively and preserving your future interests as much as possible is hiring an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible.