Once upon a time, courts and judges preferred to grant a mother full custody of her child. This was uniformly based upon the sense that mothers were more nurturing and somehow deserved custody instead of the father.
But the fruit borne of this thinking proved to be disastrous to the relationship between fathers and their children. Absent fathers had little to no firm relationships with their children. Courts have gradually moved to a gender-neutral position in custody battles. Oklahoma courts are just as likely to grant full custody to a father now as to the mother.
Filing for Full Custody
Both parents are legally entitled to request physical custody of their children in a divorce. In Oklahoma, if a couple is legally married when the child is born, there is a presumption that the husband is the father of the child. This paves the way for a father’s custody claim during a divorce. But if a father wants full custody of his child, he must file a motion for custody.
If your child was born out of wedlock, it is important to know that you must establish paternity before asking the court for custody of your child. Filing a paternity petition or having your ex sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity is the first step to gaining custody of your child.
Why seek full custody?
Custody disputes can be hard on everyone involved. Usually, there are good reasons for seeking custody. The situation may involve substance use or abuse, a lack of parenting skills and support, anger problems, or other mental or physical health problems. Whatever the reason, parents innately want the best for their child. The court does, too.
While courts may not show a preference for one parent or the other based on gender, courts have long adhered to what is known as the “tender years” doctrine. This doctrine advocated custody for the mother when children are young.
The attitude is not prevalent any longer, but it is still around. It is best to work with an experienced Tulsa custody attorney when pursuing full custody. An experienced attorney knows not only the law and local procedural rules, but which judges may still adhere to this doctrine and which have moved away from it.
Best Interests of the Child
Courts strive to decide custody based on what is in the best interests of the child. There is a prevalence in Oklahoma courts to award joint custody to both parents. This can be overcome by evidence that joint custody would not be in the best interests of the child.
In determining what is in the child’s best interests, the court will look at the child’s physical, emotional, mental, and moral welfare (Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 109). The court must also consider issues of domestic violence, sexual or other abuse, and drug or alcohol abuse (Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 112.2).
Courts are more likely to give custody to whichever parent is more likely to ensure that the child will have a continuing relationship with both parents. A continuing relationship with both parents is important to the health and welfare of a child. Therefore, unless there is a compelling reason, a court will try to ensure that these relationships will continue regardless of which parent is awarded custody.
Custody disputes can be hard and prolonged. Never try to deal with them on your own. An experienced custody attorney in Tulsa can guide you, draft court documents, and clearly explain your position to the judge.
Free Consultation with a Tulsa Custody Attorney
If you’d like to have full custody of your child, you need an attorney from Tulsa Fathers’ Rights who is committed to protecting your legal interests. Contact their office for a confidential free consultation. Call (918) 986-7724 or send an inquiry using the contact links on this page.