This website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.

NOTE: This pamphlet is for general divorce information, applicable to Tulsa area courts. It emphasizes the procedures of the litigation process. If you opt for the collaborative process, then you should read this understanding that the process and ground rules will be different. Do not allow any of this information to let you become “positional,” where you will take a position that you are entitled to something and will require it when we negotiate in our collaborative process. Allow your attorney to develop your needs with you before you take a position on what those needs are.


A divorce is an extremely stressful time for you. I, Barbara Bartlett, realize that the outcome of the divorce will have a significant impact on your life. It is important that you are fully informed throughout the course of the litigation. The more you understand the process, the more you can assist me in the preparation of your case. I hope that the information provided here will help you in knowing your rights and obligations.

This booklet is not meant to tell you everything you need to know about divorce, nor is it to be in lieu of legal advice from me. This is only a reference for information often asked by clients. Do not hesitate to ask me if you have particular questions.

You may find this information helpful in solving problems which may arise even after the divorce, but keep in mind that the law is always changing and each situation has its own individual problems. Be sure and contact an attorney if you have any questions at a later date.

You will also find the local website for the Tulsa County Domestic Court very helpful. It is at There are interactive forms as well as information about “divorce court.” And please utilize my website, for collaborative divorce in the Tulsa area.


Most people believe common law marriage is still valid in Oklahoma. To be common law married, you must have an actual agreement to be married. Factors that would lead to the conclusion that there is a common law marriage are cohabitation, filing joint tax returns, etc. If you are common law married, you must get a divorce before you can validly marry another person.

If you married someone within six months of having divorced another person in the State of Oklahoma, you have an invalid marriage. This marriage will ripen into a common law marriage six months after the divorce. There is a possibility of an annulment in these circumstances. Before making the conclusion based on the information in this pamphlet, discuss the matter with an attorney.


Some people are not certain whether they want to file for a divorce. An attorney is only a legal counselor and not a marriage counselor. I may, however, be able to advise you on the legal benefits or detriments of not filing immediately for a divorce, or ways to protect yourself if your spouse files. For those in the Tulsa area, the website will help give ideas of collaborative alternatives.


Some spouses desire to live apart before deciding to divorce. You do not need a legal document to live in separate households. You may need a legal document, however, to provide for the division of parenting responsibility, support, debt payment, and property possession during the time of your separation. This is accomplished through a "legal separation."

A legal separation action may last as long as you desire. It essentially follows the same steps as a divorce proceeding for a conference, temporary order, and discovery (see below). It can also be amended to a divorce proceeding. If you initiate the legal separation action, your spouse still has the right to change the proceedings to that of a divorce.


Any person who is legally (includes common law) married may petition the court for a divorce after living in Oklahoma for six (6) months. You will file in the county where you, or your spouse, have lived for the last thirty (30) days.

Oklahoma has several grounds for divorce. The ground most frequently used is incompatibility. Incompatibility simply means that you and your spouse cannot get along and your differences are irreconcilable. Incompatibility can be proven by the fact that you want a divorce. It is extremely rare that someone is not granted a divorce in Oklahoma if either spouse requests it.


Divorce is a lawsuit, plain and simple. Both sides have competing interests. For that reason I will not represent both you and your spouse in a divorce action. My website discusses how an attorney can simply write up a divorce agreement for you.


Yes. It is called collaborative divorce, and it is offered in Tulsa County. My website, explains why you do not have to fight about it. A collaborative divorce can be done in a respectful and dignified process You and your spouse, with trained attorneys specializing in collaborative divorce, will agree to work at settling the case without going to court. This is available for divorces in Tulsa and surrounding areas.


If all aspects of your divorce are settled then it is possible that there can be an uncontested divorce. I will only represent one spouse in a divorce even if it is uncontested. It is my duty and obligation to encourage the other spouse to seek counsel of his/her own. If your spouse does not retain an attorney, and agrees to the terms of divorce that I will write up for you, your spouse may sign a waiver of rights to contest the divorce.

Sometimes divorces start out contested, but later the parties are able to reach a settlement. A Decree of Divorce will be written up which will contain the terms you and your spouse agree on. The Decree will then be signed by a judge. One of the parties and that party's attorney must be present when the judge grants the divorce.


If your divorce is settled with both parties signing the agreement, we can take the divorce after waiting the time required by statute. You must wait ten (l0) days after filing the Petition for Divorce before a Decree can be entered if you have no minor child(ren). You must wait ninety (90) days if there are minor child(ren) of the marriage. There are circumstances where these time requirements may not apply. For example, an attempt at marriage counseling may waive the ninety (90) day wait.

If the divorce is not settled, then the process can take ten (10) months to twenty-four (24) months depending on the complexity of the case.


The first step in getting a divorce is the preparation and filing of the Petition for Divorce. The Petition will state the jurisdiction facts which give the court power to decide matters concerning you, your spouse, and any child(ren) who may be born or adopted during your marriage. After consulting with me, you will decide what you want to request from the court. You may ask for support for the child(ren), support for yourself, division of property, custody/visitation of the child(ren), or attorney's fees and court costs. If your spouse has already filed, we will prepare a response to file for the relief you wish from the court.

There are automatic restraining orders that go immediately into effect when you file for divorce. If you are the one filing the divorce, they immediately apply to you. The restraining orders apply to your spouse when he/she is served with papers. You will receive a copy of the restraining order in your paperwork, so please review it in its entirety. It has mostly to do with the selling and disposing of assets, or disrupting the children. The law has given you the power of asking a police officer to help you enforce this restraining order. You will need to show a copy of your divorce paperwork with the restraining order to the police officer. If you are the petitioner, you will need to show proof that you have served your spouse with the restraining order.


If a wife changed her name to her husband's last name at the time of marriage, then she alone has the right to request that she be restored to her former name. Let me know if you desire a name change.


After the Petition for Divorce is filed and the first conference or temporary order hearing is set, I must give your spouse notification that you have filed for divorce. I can do this through a process server who is hired to physically hand the papers to your spouse. I can also send the papers through certified mail if it is believed that your spouse will sign for the papers. If you and your spouse are communicating well, then another alternative is for your spouse to sign a Waiver of Service that can be prepared by my office.


Fill out your financial declaration and gather any documents I requested.

If you have a minor child(ren) you are required within fourteen (14) days of filing the Petition for Divorce to go to the “Helping Children Cope with Divorce” seminar. This four (4) hour seminar is directed at helping parents learn what their child(ren) is going through, and how to become co-parents. If you do not attend, the court has the power to deny you any relief you have sought, or even hold you in contempt. If you did not receive the enrollment form for this program along with this material, please contact us.


If you have a minor child(ren) you are required within fourteen (14) days of filing the Petition for Divorce to go to the “Helping Children Cope with Divorce” seminar if the divorce is in the Tulsa area. You and your spouse will appear on that day to listen to a judge. I will go with you to this conference.

The judge that you will meet with at the Parenting Plan Conference will not force you and your spouse into any sort of agreement. That judge’s responsibility is to encourage the two of you to talk to resolve your differences and to keep your child(ren) out of the middle of the dispute. The judge will first speak to a group of divorcing couples, then is available for each couple to speak with privately.

If no temporary orders are entered at the Parenting Plan Conference, then the court will either send us to mediation or to a temporary order hearing before another judge.


In Tulsa County, the first conference in a divorce is before a judge, which will be to “schedule” the rest of the case. The court will order “discovery” be done by certain dates. If a temporary order hearing is needed, then a hearing for this will be set.


There is a method for obtaining an emergency restraining order. This type of order is usually to keep child(ren) from being harmed. If your case has come to a crisis point such as this, we can discuss going before the court to get an emergency order. If there has been physical violence, then a protective order should be obtained.


The Tulsa court encourages all parties to go to mediation to attempt to work out their problems. Mediation is a process where both you and your spouse define the issues that are in dispute and work together with a mediator to resolve them. A mediator does not represent either you or your spouse but participates in helping you and your spouse resolve misunderstandings by enhancing communication and exploring options.

There are free mediation services available, and then there are paid mediators. The one you will want depends on the circumstances of your case and your finances. We can discuss whether you want me to come to the mediation.


Usually when a Petition for Divorce is filed we also file an application for a temporary order. The reason for a temporary order is to govern what each party does during the pendency of the divorce.

In Tulsa County, a temporary order hearing date will be given at the Parenting Plan Conference. For parties who do not have minor children, then we obtain a hearing date by request. In other counties, the hearing date for the temporary order will be told to us when we file the Petition for Divorce.

I will appear with you at that hearing. If your spouse also appears at that hearing the court will make decisions which will govern the actions of you and your spouse during the pendency of the divorce. These decisions may include such things as custody and visitation with the child(ren), child support, support alimony, temporary attorney's fees, temporary possession of the marital home, temporary possession of vehicles, payment of debts and obligations, and continued coverage of insurance. Note that the courts often look for both parties to have equal access to the child(ren). There may be a need for you to testify at this hearing, but normally these matters are settled after the attorneys speak with the judge.

Once the terms of the Order are agreed to, or the court has decided what should happen, the Order is reduced to writing explaining what the obligations are for each party. This Order will govern until the court enters a Decree of Divorce. The court usually will not change the Temporary Order once it is in place. For that reason, if you have any particular concerns over what is going to happen before the Decree of Divorce is entered, you should raise those with me immediately so that I get them taken care of at the temporary order hearing.

Note that this hearing, like many hearings before the court, is set at the same time as many other cases. For that reason there is a lot of waiting. Bring a good book!


The next phase of the litigation is called "discovery." This is the time when we can request certain information from your spouse in order to better prepare our case. This may include Interrogatories, which are written questions to which your spouse will give a written answer. A Request for Production of Documents is used to get copies of certain documents which will be helpful in determining assets, liabilities, and expenditures.

Depositions are oral questions made to a party or a witness who answers the questions under oath before a court reporter. Because of the cost of the court reporter and the attorney's time in preparing and conducting the deposition, this type of discovery is more costly than Interrogatories or the Request for Production of Documents. You also have the right to subpoena documents from third parties such as financial institutions. I will discuss the options with you and use the best discovery techniques that fit your circumstances.


There are many ways you can help in preparing for trial. Gather all financial documents which may tell me what assets you have and their value. Documents concerning expenditures (such as credit card statements) and income (such as paycheck stubs) are also important. Do not throw anything away. If you have notes you want to give me about a certain document, write it on a separate sheet of paper or ‘sticky’ and attach it. Do not write on the document. I may be using the document as an exhibit.

If you and your spouse do not come to an agreement as to the value of your property, you will need to get appraisals. Let me know if you are hiring an appraiser.

If custody is an issue in your divorce, it is extremely helpful to keep a diary. Entries into this diary should note when visitation occurs, any problems which were related to the child(ren), and the parent’s day-to-day involvement in the child(ren)’s life.


After discovery is complete a pretrial hearing date is set. This is a hearing usually attended by the attorneys only. The court listens to the issues of the case and may attempt to set parameters for settlement. The court will then give a date for trial. Often times the trial will be set on one day, but behind another divorce case. If the case in front of your case takes up the judge's time that day, your case will have to be rescheduled. It is not unusual for the judge not to hear your case the first time it is set for trial. Your patience will be particularly tested at this point in the litigation.

Before trial, I will take time to discuss the rules of the courtroom, what questions you may be asked, and to go over any specific concerns you may have. You will probably work with us to create exhibits such as your monthly expense sheet, income summary, and proposed property division.


The court looks at the "best interests of the child" in determining placement with a parent. Whichever parent gets custody, the other has the right to visitation.

Recently the legislature passed a law that states that the court should provide substantially equal access to the minor child(ren) at the temporary order hearing. If equal access is requested by one parent, and the other parent objects to it, the parent objecting to the equal access must show why it would be detrimental to the child(ren).

In determining who gets custody, the court will consider who is presently the primary caretaker of the child(ren) and who is physically and morally fit to take care of the child(ren). The court will consider the preference of the child(ren), if the child(ren) is of sufficient age and intelligence to form an untainted opinion. The preference of your child(ren), however, is not the determining factor for who will be awarded custody. I discourage anyone from trying to influence the preference of his/her child(ren). It will hurt your child(ren), and could backfire and cause you to lose custody.

Often times expert witnesses in the mental health field are needed if the parties are truly disputing who should have custody of the child(ren). If an expert is used, you, your spouse, and your child(ren) will undergo testing and interviews. You have a right to pick this expert, but your spouse also has the right to choose someone else. If each party has a different expert, your family will be tested and interviewed by both.


Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal time with both parents. It can mean that both parents will discuss and agree to major decisions for the child(ren). This could include which schools will be attended, religious affiliation, and if the child(ren) should get braces. The ability to make joint decisions is necessary if you are going to have joint custody with your spouse. It will not work if you are not on speaking terms.


If you and your spouse can agree to the details of visitation, the court will usually approve the plan as long as it is not burdensome on the child(ren). If you both cannot agree, the court will order a specific visitation schedule. The schedule will vary depending on the distance between you and your spouse's homes, as well as the age, safety, needs, and activities of the child(ren).

A typical schedule for visitation would be visits on alternating weekends, one evening a week, a block of time in the summer, and alternating holidays. You should encourage liberal visitation except in extraordinary circumstances. The child(ren) should have the benefit of a good relationship with both of his/her parents.


If you and your spouse (or ex-spouse) have trouble making decisions during the pendency of the case, or after you get a final order, then a Parenting Coordinator may be appointed to make these decisions for you. It is like having a judge “on-call” for small disputes that may arise. The Parenting Coordinator is usually a mental health professional with child development background and mediation skills. The Parenting Coordinator’s decision, however, is binding. We can discuss whether a Parenting Coordinator is appropriate in your case.


In almost all cases, the court will order financial support from the noncustodial parent to the parent who has custody of the child(ren). Oklahoma has child support guidelines which uses the gross income of both you and your spouse to arrive at a monthly amount of support to be paid.

The support will include a percentage of the health insurance premium for the child(ren) and the child care expense. Each parent may also be obligated to pay a percentage of health care costs not covered by insurance.

If the parent paying child support has the child(ren) for over 120 nights per year, then the paying parent will receive a discount on his/her child support.

If you would like to try different scenarios of income and how overnights with the visiting parent can affect child support, go to, and use the “Child Support Calculator.”

Child support may be collected through a wage assignment. A wage assignment requires the paying parent’s employer to withhold child support from his/her paycheck. The money will then go through the Oklahoma Centralized Support Registry and then be disbursed to the custodial parent. Upon an agreement between the parties, the child support can be paid directly without having to go through the wage assignment and child support registry.

Support will last until age 18, or if the child reaches the age of 18 while still attending high school, then until graduation or to age 19, whichever occurs first. The court will not order that the support continue during the child(ren)'s college education. You and your spouse may agree, however, to terms that do provide for college education. Let me know if there is such an agreement, and I will write up a written contract to bind your spouse to this promise. If your child has a mental or physical disability there are other provisions which can be made for support of the child(ren) after they reach age 18.

The person with custody of the child(ren) is presumed, under IRS rules, to receive the child(ren) as tax exemptions for income tax purposes. The court has the power, however, to divide the dependency exemptions between the two of you.


Support alimony is money paid from the spouse who makes more money to the one who makes less or no money. It is not always granted even if there is a large discrepancy in your income. There are several factors looked at by the court, but the most important include the needs of the person who wants to receive the support as well as the income of the other spouse. The length of the marriage is also given great weight.

Unless the court specifically orders otherwise, the person who pays support alimony can deduct the amount paid from his/her income for tax purposes. The person who receives support alimony must report it to the IRS and pay tax on it.

Support alimony terminates upon the death of either party. It may also terminate upon the remarriage of the person receiving the support alimony. Support alimony can be modified or terminated upon cohabitation of the party receiving it with a person of the opposite sex. It also may be modified if there is a significant change of circumstance of the person paying the money, or the person receiving the money after the divorce. The parties can agree to waive these contingencies that modify or terminate alimony.


The court will make a fair and equitable division of the marital property. What is equitable depends on the circumstances. The court will look at the nature and the extent of the property (whether it is marital or separate property) and the situation of the parties. Most courts strive to make an approximately equal division of net property and debt.

The distinction between marital and separate property can be quite technical, but a rule of thumb is that all property accumulated during the marriage is marital, unless it came to you or your spouse by inheritance or gift. Property that has been put in both names is usually considered joint.

Employer retirement plans are joint property to the extent the plan was contributed to during the marriage. You may be able to receive a part of the retirement money from your spouse’s plan. Whether the money will be immediately available to you depends on the type of plan. I will need to discuss this thoroughly with you, including any tax consequences from removal of the money.

If the property is of such nature that it is difficult to divide, the court may award most of the assets to one party, and order that party to pay a cash settlement to the other party. The court may set up many different ways for the payments to be made, either in installments or upon a certain event.


In bankruptcy, a person may terminate his/her obligation to pay the cash settlement of property division and other debts. For example, if your spouse was ordered to pay the credit card debt, and he/she later files bankruptcy, the credit card company may come after you for payment of the debt. If you individually had made a contract with the credit card company, you may still be obligated to pay the credit card company even though the divorce court ordered your spouse to pay.

If your spouse was ordered by the divorce court to pay you money to equalize the property division, your spouse could potentially wipe out any obligation he/she has to pay you. The obligation to pay support alimony, child support, and some attorney fees cannot be terminated by a bankruptcy court.

If you suspect your spouse may take bankruptcy after the divorce, or if you feel there is a possibility you may have to take bankruptcy, let me know immediately. There may be ways I can protect you in the structure of an agreement to your divorce, or in the type of relief requested of the court. If your spouse takes bankruptcy after divorce, and your spouse still owes you money of some type from the divorce proceeding, contact an attorney immediately in order to ascertain your rights.


If you are getting a divorce you are naturally very curious about the process and the outcome. Your friends and relatives may attempt to give you advice or tell you that you should be receiving more because they did when they got a divorce. What you must remember is that there are no two circumstances exactly alike. Laws change as do social norms. If you have a specific concern never hesitate to ask me for information or an explanation.


Court costs are approximately $176. They are paid to the court clerk when we file your Petition for Divorce. Other costs may include depositions, investigations, valuations by appraisers, subpoenas, or court reporting. Refer to my attorney fee contract for your obligation in paying these. We will discuss which of these costs are likely to be expended in your divorce proceeding. I will not incur any of these costs on your behalf without your permission.


You are. You alone are responsible for paying my fees pursuant to the attorney fee contract that you have signed. You may ask for reimbursement from your spouse. I will ask the court for attorney's fees to be paid by your spouse if we decide that it is appropriate in your case. You must realize, however, that the court has many factors that it weighs in determining whether to order your spouse to pay your attorney's fees. There is no guarantee how much, if any, you will be awarded.


No, you are still married. Even while a divorce is pending you are still married. There are many particular ways that dating can affect your case. Be truthful with me about your relationships and I will be prepared to face the problems if they arise.


If you and your spouse agree to the terms of the divorce and everyone signs a Decree, the divorce officially occurs when the judge signs the Decree. If your case goes to trial, your divorce occurs when the judge pronounces that you are divorced. That is usually when the judge gives the court’s decision on the issues presented at trial.


Contact me if you and your spouse decide to reconcile. If the divorce is pending, I can simply dismiss the divorce. If the divorce is already over and you reconcile, please contact me for consultation of your legal options.


In Oklahoma your marriage will end when the court grants the divorce. Thereafter, Oklahoma law forbids you from marrying any person other than your former spouse for six (6) months in this state. If you marry in another state but continue to reside in Oklahoma during that six (6) month period, your marriage is valid, but you technically commit the crime of adultery if you cohabit in Oklahoma with your new spouse during the six (6) months.


Yes. If you willfully fail to comply with any of the terms of an Order or Divorce Decree, the court can hold you in contempt. Contempt can lead to six (6) months in jail and a $500.00 fine. There may be defenses for not following the court's order, but seek the advice of an attorney before not following the Order.

If you and your spouse decide together not to follow the court's Order, you should seek the advice of an attorney. It may be the type of Order that should be modified immediately to reflect the new arrangements. For example, child support will keep accruing even if the child(ren) have gone to live with the parent obligated to pay child support. There may also be a disagreement later, and your spouse could deny that he/she had ever made any arrangements to do anything other than the court's Order.


First, I need to warn you about cellular phones and email. No one can guarantee the security of cellular phones and/or electronic mail. If you choose to converse with me that way, be aware of the dangers of being overheard, or your conversations intercepted. Although the danger may seem remote, it is your choice to use those devices. I will only use email if you agree to correspond with me through that method.

I cannot and will not divulge any confidential information you give me. However, there are certain exceptions.

The first exception is when the confidential information is told to me in the presence of a third party. This may happen when you bring a friend or relative to sit in on our conference. At that point, we cannot claim that any information you gave me that was overheard by a third person is confidential.

Another exception is when you tell me that you are going to commit a crime. My ethical code requires me, as an officer of the court, to report any crime I know will be committed.

The third exception may arise if I have to bring a lawsuit against you to pay my fees. In order to get my fees I may have to divulge to the court certain information that you have given me.



You should draw up a new Will. Divorce in Oklahoma automatically invalidates the portion of your Will giving anything to your former spouse. Your Will should be rewritten to provide bequests to others. If you are the custodial parent, realize that the child(ren)'s other parent may receive custody of the child(ren) upon your death. If this is a particular concern to you, contact an attorney to have your options explained.

Life Insurance:

You should change the beneficiaries on any life insurance. If the Divorce Decree required you to keep your spouse as a beneficiary, then you must reaffirm your now ex-spouse as beneficiary designation with the life insurance provider.

Health Insurance:

If you do not have adequate health insurance except through your spouse's employer, and your spouse's employer has twenty or more employees, you may "COBRA" into their plan. This means that you can stay on the health insurance policy for up to thirty-six (36) months. You will have to pay, however, the full amount of the premium. This is often times more than your spouse had to pay since the employer, as a benefit, picked up part of the cost. You will also be responsible for a small administrative fee to keep you on the insurance. If you decide to stay on your former spouse's insurance, you must give written notice to the employer within sixty (60) days from the date of divorce. Your child(ren) have the same option, but you may not want to exercise it. Contact us concerning the pros and cons of this decision.

Social Security:

If you were married longer than ten (l0) years, you may be entitled to share in your ex-spouse's social security benefit. Contact your social security office to determine the amount of this benefit.


If you received a judgment against your spouse, you will probably need to attempt to collect that judgment within five (5) years from the date it was due. You must use authorized legal procedures to collect your judgment such as execution or garnishment. If you do not make an attempt to collect it, it could become unenforceable after five (5) years. In other words, you lose the right to collect the money.

Modifying Custodial Arrangement:

Custody of the child(ren) may be changed to the other parent if there is a substantial, material, and permanent change of circumstance which affect the child(ren). Any modification of custody should be well thought out. You should contact an attorney before deciding whether to seek modification. If you are the custodial parent, you should seek legal advice before, or dramatically changing your lifestyle by, for example, cohabiting with someone.

Child Support:

Child support may be increased or lowered upon a material change of circumstance. That material change of circumstance will usually concern the income of parties, but may be some other kind of change. The law infers it should be reviewed every three years, but no mechanism has been set up to do that. You have the right to request income information from your ex-spouse. Contact my office on the way you may go about doing this.

Modifying Support Alimony:

Support alimony may also be modified upon a significant change of circumstance. This may include a drastic increase or decrease of income, but may include other factors as well.

Traveling Internationally with Child(ren):

If you or your ex-spouse are taking the child(ren) out of the United States, the parent not accompanying the child will need to sign an affidavit saying that it is okay for the child to leave the country. You may contact my office for a form affidavit, or contact a travel agent.

Relocating with the Child(ren):

If you are going to relocate your child from the Tulsa area, then you will be required to give notice to the other parent. This notice must be within sixty (60) days of moving and in writing. The notice must state the reason for the move, the new location, address, telephone number, and the date you propose to move. You should propose a long distance visitation schedule. For the parent staying in Tulsa, he/she must object within thirty (30) days of receiving the notice.


I, Barbara Bartlett, expect you, my client, to be cooperative and truthful. If I request you to gather certain documents, follow a court order, or to attend a hearing, I expect you to fulfill the request. This is not for my own personal gratification, but I am trying to do the best job I can for you. If the first time I learn about something harmful to your case is in the middle of trial, there is far less chance of survival than if I had had enough time to plan its impact.

You can keep your legal fees down by fulfilling my requests for information in a timely manner. If there are certain facts you would like me to know, but you do not need immediate advice, write a letter or email rather than call. This will save me time in having to write down the information, and may help you in organizing the facts.

I appreciate the opportunity to be of service to you at this particularly difficult time in your life. I believe that your trust and confidence will be well deserved.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.