The first consideration as to division of property in Oklahoma is the determination of whether the asset is marital or separate property. Marital property will be equitably divided between the spouses, and separate property will not be divided. Marital property subject to equitable division is the real or personal property acquired by either spouse after the inception of the marriage with marital labor or with funds earned during the marriage. Separate property is the undisposed of property that was owned by the spouse prior to the marriage, but also includes any gifts or inheritances acquired during the marriage.
If the parties have property that was owned prior to the marriage and that has increased in value during the marriage through marital efforts, the increase in value during the marriage is marital property. This means that an asset may have both a separate property component and a marital property component, such as a retirement account owned prior to the marriage but in which contributions continued to be made during the marriage. Marital property can be divided “in kind” – such as a savings account split between the parties – or awarded to one spouse with a compensating payment to the other spouse – such as residential property, a business, or a professional practice. All marital property must be divided between the spouses in a just and reasonable manner, regardless of any marital fault.
Before you seek a divorce in Oklahoma, consult with an experienced divorce attorney. You should gather as much information as you can about all of your property, including when you purchased it, approximately how much it is worth, account numbers, and serial numbers. Bring this information with you when you meet with your attorney for divorce advice. If this information is not available to you, it can be obtained by your divorce attorney during the litigation through discovery.
David W. Echols is an Oklahoma City divorce lawyer who specializes in family law issues such as divorce and child custody.