Child Custody in Oklahoma

Child custody refers to all parental rights in raising the child, such as the right to make decisions about the child’s health, education, activities, religion, and upbringing. Oklahoma law expressly states that custody will not be awarded based on the parent’s gender. That is to say—the mother will not automatically get custody of the children.

How is Custody Determined?

In Oklahoma custody matters, the court cares about one thing: the best interest of the child. This means ensuring the child will be in a stable home with a parent who can meet the child’s needs.

The court always prefers that the parents reach a custody and visitation agreement on their own in order to facilitate a more peaceful transition. But this is not always possible. A custody case can quickly turn into a full blown custody battle where the court will have to intervene and make a ruling.

In making a custody decision, the court will consider the following factors:

  • Child’s age, gender and health
  • Which parent is most likely to frequent contact with the other parent
  • Mental and physical health of both parents
  • Lifestyle habits of each parent, including smoking and any history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Emotional connection between the child and each parent
  • Child’s education
  • History of domestic violence

In some instances, the court will also take the child’s preferences into consideration.

Forms of Custody in Oklahoma

The most common forms of custody in Oklahoma are joint custody and sole custody. Keep in mind that custody is about legal parental rights, not the number of nights each parent has the child. Having joint custody doesn’t automatically mean each parent will have the child 50 percent of the time. It is possible for parents to have joint custody with one parent having standard visitation every other weekend.

Joint Custody in Oklahoma

Parents with joint custody share the decision making authority. Both parents make decisions about the child’s health, education, activities, religion, and upbringing together.

Oklahoma courts favor joint custody agreements in most cases. The only way joint custody can work is if both parents are able to communicate with each other and are willing to ensure frequent and continuing contact.

Sole Custody in Oklahoma

A parent with sole custody has exclusive control over the child’s upbringing and makes all parenting decisions. Although Oklahoma courts do not favor sole custody, factors such as criminal convictions, drug and alcohol addictions, history of domestic abuse might impact a court’s decision in awarding sole custody to one parent.

Modification of Child Custody

Changing custody requires proof that there is a permanent and substantial change in circumstances and that the current custody arrangement is no longer in the best interest of the child.

Some of the most common grounds for custody modifications in Oklahoma include the following:

  • The custodial parent is constantly moving and switching the child’s schools
  • One parent is refusing to allow visitations
  • One parent has moved in with someone with a history of domestic violence or criminal convictions
  • Joint custody is not working and sole custody would be in the best interest of the child
  • Failure to give notice of relocation

Courts in Oklahoma are hesitant to modify their previous orders, thus making post-decree modifications very difficult. However, there are certain situations where modification of a previous order is necessary. Contact Edge Divorce to learn more about what you need to do to modify custody in Oklahoma.

Relocation Requirements in Oklahoma

Any parent who plans on moving more than 75 miles is required to give notice to the other parent. It does not matter whether the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent plans to move. Notice must be given 60 days in advance and the non-moving parent has a right to object to the move.

If you receive notice that the child will be relocated, you have 30 days to seek an order to prevent the relocation. In that case, the court may have to hold a hearing to determine whether the move is in the best interest of the child. 

Your Child Custody Advocates

It is very important to work with an attorney who has experience in handling custody cases and knows what factors are relevant in Oklahoma. Don’t leave it up to the judge to figure out what kind of parent you are or who should raise your child. Contact Edge Divorce to schedule a confidential review of your case today.