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Where would divorce be without marriage?

In Oklahoma, we see many reasons for couples to obtain a divorce. Some are vague, like irreconcilable differences, and some are very specific, like incidents of domestic violence. But the divorces we handle all share one characteristic. They began with a marriage. And that means the ending of the relationship is governed by a very specific set of laws from the Oklahoma statutes that deal with family law issues.

What happens if you are in a relationship that ends and there was no marriage? Good question. We can’t tell you because there is no set of laws or court cases that we can look to and let you know what the likely outcome will be, unlike with a divorce. Even if the couple had children, other than the fact that they both remain parents to the child or children and both could owe child support, there is no other formal recognition of the ending of their relationship.

For women, this is of concern, because unlike when a marriage ends, and she might be entitled to spousal support or a share in the man’s military pension, she has no right to receive any economic support from the man.

Because women still are the primary caregiver to children in a relationship, they may find themselves attempting to reenter the job market or get by with part-time wages. The ending also lacks any equitable distribution of the assets of the relationship, allowing the financially more sophisticated party to take advantage of the other party.

The lack of definiteness in the ending is also unsettling. Even if a man helps his former partner financially, there tends to be a vagueness that leaves both sides unsure what is appropriate.

While it sounds ironic, being married may make divorcing easier.