Oklahoma divorce bill to penalise spouse ‘at fault’

family law

A proposed piece of legislation in the south-central state of Oklahoma would significantly penalise those found ‘at fault’ in a divorce.

The bill stipulates that if one spouse can prove the other is at fault they will automatically be awarded 75 per cent of the marital assets. This would apply to all divorces except those based on “incompatibility”. Other grounds for divorce in the so-called ‘Sooner State’ include abandonment, adultery, extreme cruelty and “habitual drunkenness” among others.

Republican State Representative Travis Dunlap wrote the bill, insisting that it would “[strengthen] people’s ability to fight for their marriages where at least one party wants to continue to work on it”. By pushing for this legislation, its supporters were “making people really consider the consequences of divorce on the community” he claimed.

However the move has been harshly criticised by Democrats. State Representative Collin Walke called it “a ruse” and “a bad bill” which was “poorly thought out”. He explained that one of the other grounds for divorce in Oklahoma was impotence so under these proposed rules “if a woman goes into court and proves her husband is impotent, she gets 75 percent of the marital estate”.

Introducing such a significant financial incentive to find proof of fault would inevitably lead to increased legal costs for all parties involved, Walke warned. That money would be better spent on important items for children such as their education or a car. He said it was “absurd” to think of parents spending it “fighting against each other in a court of law”.

Photo of the Oklahoma State Capitol Building by Steve via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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