Marriage, Divorce, Parental Rights, and Domestic Abuse

Table of Contents
Oklahoma Bar Association, since 1904

Marriage, Divorce, Parental Rights, and Domestic Abuse

When can you marry without your parent's permission?

Marrying without Parents Permission Anyone who is at least 18 years old can marry without the consent of his or her parent. Anyone under 18 must have the consent of his or her parents or guardians. The consent must be given in the presence of the person issuing the marriage license. In Oklahoma, no person under the age of 16 may marry unless allowed by the court.

Do you need a blood test to get a marriage license?

No, you do not need a blood test in Oklahoma.

What are your rights and obligations as a parent?

Rights and Obligations as a Parent All parents, whether they are minors or adults, have certain rights and duties toward their children. Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity helps ensure support from both parents, allows the child to have the father's last name and have access to family medical history. It also allows access to social security survivor benefits, inheritance or to establish Native American tribal membership for the child.

There are five (5) ways to be a father:
  • Be married to the child's mother when the child is born.
  • Acknowledge paternity using an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form. If either parent has any doubts about who the father is, they should not sign an AOP.
  • Be determined as the father by a judge through the legal process. You may apply with Oklahoma Child Support Services for a DNA test to establish paternity and child support obligations. In Oklahoma, DNA testing is done using a buccal swab. This means a swab, like a cotton swab, is rubbed on the inside of the mouth. It is a painless procedure and no needles are used.
  • You may be considered the child's father under the Uniform Parentage Act if you raise the child as if your own for his/her first two years of life.
  • Adopt the child.

Parents have a legal duty to provide financial support for their children. A parent must support a child until the child reaches the age of 18 (or until age 20 if the child is still attending high school). The court may order a parent who does not have custody of a child to make monthly payments for the child's living and medical expenses. These payments are called child support. The amount of child support is based on the Oklahoma child support guidelines law.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) may provide financial assistance to an eligible mother while she is pregnant and after the child is born. If a court orders you to pay child support, you must do so even if you travel or move to another state. Judgments for past due child support are enforceable in other states, and judgments for past due child support from other states are enforceable in Oklahoma.

The judge has the final authority for deciding who will be the primary caregiver with custody of a child, the visitation with the parents, the amount of child support to be paid and who will make those payments. The court sets the amount of child support based on both parents' income and the amount of time the child is in each parent's care. The child support order includes medical support, and may include other child related expenses, like child care costs. The court may also change orders when incomes of the parties, custody or visitation with a child or other matter affecting child support change. If you don't pay your child support or if you owe past due child support, interest will start to be added after 30 days. OKDHS Oklahoma Child Support Services is required by law to seize bank accounts, take state and federal tax refunds, seek jail time, place liens on property, and suspend any licenses you may have, including professional, driver, hunting and fishing licenses.

Sometimes the mother or father considers allowing the child to be adopted. The Department of Human Services, as well as many private adoption services, can explain the adoption process. Decisions involving paternity and adoption require much thought by both the mother and the father. Talking with parents or other trusted adults may be helpful. Talking to a lawyer who knows about family law is the best way to help understand your legal rights. The earlier in the pregnancy you think about these things, the better.

More information on child support, adoption and paternity can be found at or by calling the OKDHS at 800-522-2922. If you have any questions about your rights and obligations as a parent, you should contact a lawyer who knows about family law.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Grounds for Divorce
There are 12 grounds for divorce in the state of Oklahoma:
  • Incompatibility
  • Abandonment for one (1) year
  • Adultery
  • Impotency
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Gross neglect of duty
  • Insanity for five (5) years
  • When the wife, at the time of marriage, is pregnant by someone other than her husband
  • Imprisonment of spouse for a felony
  • Failed attempt of one spouse to get a divorce in another state

Eligibility for Divorce

To file for divorce in Oklahoma, a person must have lived in this state for at least six (6) months. Additionally, the person must live at least 30 days in the county in which he or she wishes to file for divorce or annulment. Any person who has been a resident of any United States Army post or military reservation within the State of Oklahoma, for six (6) months immediately before the filing of the petition, may bring action for divorce or annulment or a marriage or may be sued for divorce or annulment of a marriage.

Eligibility for Child Custody

If there are children from the marriage, or if at the time of filing for divorce, the wife is pregnant with the husband's baby, the court will decide the custody, guardianship, medical care, support and education of the minor child(ren). The court may order either spouse to pay alimony for support of the other. The payments may be monthly or in lump sum. The court may later change these payments if there is a good reason.

Division of the Property

Real and personal property will be divided in a just and reasonable manner. The court will give to each person his or her separate property brought into the marriage and kept separate, or obtained by his or her own right during the marriage. The court will divide as fairly as possible the property obtained together during the marriage. The court may divide the marital property by giving certain items to each spouse, or it may give an item of property to one spouse and give to the other spouse an amount of money the court decides is fair. It is important to remember that the property may not be divided equally, but will be divided as the court deems fair. The court will also divide any debt the husband and wife obtained during the marriage.

What is an annulment?

An annulment is like a divorce, but it is not as easy to get. An annulment cancels the marriage as though it never took place. For example, the court will annul a marriage if you were already married, if you were not old enough to get married, or if you or your partner were mentally incompetent to get married. (Note: this is not the same as an annulment which may be obtained through your church. A church annulment does not legally end the marriage.)

What is Domestic Violence and How Can You Get Help?

Domestic Violence Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence, or financial abuse (using money and financial tools to exert control).

Domestic Violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality, gender or educational background.

Domestic Violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The 25 consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.

A Domestic Violence Protective Order is a civil order that can
  • Order the abuser not to hurt, harm or harass the victim
  • Order the abuser not to contact the victim for any reason
  • Give the victim temporary possession of the residence
  • Order the abuser to stay away from the victim's school or workplace

You can get a Protective Order against
  • Anyone closely related to you
  • Anyone with whom you live
  • Anyone with whom you are or were previously in a dating relationship

Who Qualifies for Protective Orders?
  • Spouses, ex-spouses
  • Present spouses of ex-spouses
  • Parents, including grandparents, stepparents, adoptive parents, and foster parents
  • Children, including grandchildren, stepchildren, adopted children, and foster children
  • Persons otherwise related by blood or marriage
  • Persons living in the same household or who formerly lived in the same household
  • Persons who are the biological parents of the same children, regardless of their marital status
  • Dating partners
  • Previous dating partners

How to Get a Protective Order

Contact the Oklahoma domestic violence/sexual assault program in the county in which you live or nearest to where you are and ask for help. You can also go to the courthouse in the county in which you live, where the abusive person lives or where the abuse happened and talk to the Court Clerk about getting the forms to request a Protective Order from a judge.

The statewide toll-free hotline for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking is 1-800-522-SAFE (7233). The website for the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault is This website has information on domestic violence, sexual assault, verbal abuse, getting a protective order, Internet safety and safety planning.

A listing of red flags of abuse, different types of abuse and FAQs about domestic violence can be found at

If you are a victim of domestic or dating violence, call 1-800-522-SAFE (7233) or a local DVSA program. The advocates are trained to help victims with a safety plan which can be the difference between staying safe or getting hurt.

If you are an abuser or the victim of abuse, it is possible to get help and counseling without costs or at a reduced fee.