One of the most difficult parts of getting a divorce for parents is child custody matters. Because the stakes are high in child custody decisions, it's not uncommon to see contentious and ugly disputes break out between parents. Our Norman family law attorney is here to help parents better understand Oklahoma's laws on child custody so they can make well-informed decisions for their family's best interests.
What are the Different Types of Custody?
There are two types of custody that can be obtained: legal custody and physical custody. The court can award either of these types of custody jointly or solely to one parent.
Legal Custody: This refers to the right and responsibility to decide how a child is raised. This may include education, discipline, medical care, etc. Legal custody can be granted solely to one parent or jointly to both.
Physical Custody: This type of custody refers to the right to choose where the child will reside. Along with deciding where the child lives, the parent(s) with physical custody is also responsible for the physical care and supervision of the child. Physical custody can also be granted solely to one parent or jointly to both.
Sole Custody: One parent has the exclusive right to legal and/or physical custody of the child.
Joint Custody: Both parents have equal rights to make decisions about their child's upbringing and/or share physical custody of the child.
Child Custody in Oklahoma
In any child custody case, the court will always consider what is in the child's best interests when they determine how to award custody.
If the parents are able to agree on child custody, they have the option to submit a proposed joint custody arrangement to the court that outlines their intentions.
The parenting plan should include:
- The time, date, and place of where the child will be physically residing with each parent
- What school the child will go to
- Child support
- Medical and dental care plans for the child
- Visitation rights
In most cases, the court will approve the parenting plan. However, the judge may suggest slight modifications, which can be added as an amendment if both parents agree.
How Does the Court Determine Child Custody?
Things become slightly more complicated when parents cannot come up with a mutually agreeable custody schedule. In that case, the court will decide custody for them.
To determine custody, the court will consider the following:
- Each parent's wishes
- The child's wishes (as long as the child is over 12 years old; in some cases, the court will listen to children under 12)
- Each parent's ability to spend time with the child and their ability to meet the child's needs
- How stable of a home each parent can provide the child with
- Each parent's mental and physical health
- Whether there are any past or current alcohol or substance abuse issues by either parent
- Whether either parent has been involved in past or present criminal activities (not including minor infractions)
- Each parent's willingness to encourage their child to build a relationship with the other parent
If joint custody is awarded, each parent's time with the child may not always be split evenly between each parent. Often, parenting time is split 60/40 or 70/30 because it is typically more aligned with the parent's work schedule.
Protecting Your Parental Rights
Child custody matters are complicated, no matter what the circumstances are. At Redhawk Law, our Norman child custody attorneys have the experience parents need to guide them through the challenging custody process. Whether you need help creating a joint custody agreement or are preparing to take your custody case to court, we will always seek the child's best interests while advocating on behalf of the parents.
Call (405) 266-5072 to discuss your Oklahoma child custody case with our team today.