Oklahoma law encourages parents to work out custody arrangements themselves without bringing the issue to court. If they cannot come to an agreement, courts make custody decisions based on what is in the "best interest" of the child. Typically, the courts favor joint custody.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
Under Oklahoma law, divorcing parents must have a parenting plan before their divorce will be approved. A parenting plan is a detailed, written agreement that sets out how they will share legal and physical custody of their children. If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, they must submit separate, proposed plans to the court.
Parents in Oklahoma are also required to attend a parenting seminar. This seminar focuses on the challenges of co-parenting after a divorce.
What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?
Oklahoma courts balance a series of factors when determining the best interest of a child. These factors include:
- The quality of each parent-child relationship,
- The parents’ involvement in the child’s day-to-day care,
- The child’s need for stability,
- The child’s connection to his or her school, religious institutions, and community,
- The parents’ ability to care for the child’s material needs,
- The physical and mental health of everyone involved,
- The history of contact between the parents and the child,
- The importance of sibling and other familial relationships,
- Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse,
- The parents’ criminal history,
- The child’s reasonable preference (if age appropriate), and
- The parents’ wishes.
A parent’s gender is not considered as a factor. In a custody dispute, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to advocate for the child and help assess his or her best interests. Oklahoma also has statewide visitation guidelines that can help frame custody negotiations.
What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?
Once the parenting plan and divorce order are signed, they are filed with the court clerk. Both parents are then bound by the approved parenting plan and the court must approve any modification of the plan. Any changes must in the child’s best interest.
Should I Contact an Oklahoma Lawyer Regarding my Custody Issues?
Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and require a detailed understanding of the law. If you have concerns about custody and parenting time, it is important that you speak with an experienced family law lawyer. A lawyer will help advocate for you and your child and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.