For fathers who anticipate a divorce in Oklahoma, the main concern is almost always child custody. Fathers entrusting family courts with their family’s future often feel a nagging trepidation over child custody. The uneasiness arises from an outdated presumption that mothers tend to be more involved in their children’s lives so they deserve child custody rights in a divorce.
Oklahoma courts, however, are guided by the best interests of the children. As a practical matter, the best interests of a child typically involve spending as much time with both parents as is feasible. If you anticipate a divorce, protect your rights as a parent by consulting with an experienced Tulsa child custody attorney for men today.
Child Custody Laws in Oklahoma
Oklahoma courts address various aspects of child custody, including physical, legal, and primary custody. The concepts overlap. A parent at various times might have physical custody but not sole custody, joint custody but not primary custody, or joint custody and not physical custody.
An understanding of the concepts is important for a dad while restructuring parenting roles and schedules in family court.
Physical custody is vested in the parent to whom a child’s care is entrusted at any particular moment. When parents drop off or pick up a child from the other parent according to a parenting plan, they are said to exchange physical custody of the child. A parenting plan typically sets out who will have physical custody throughout the school year, on holidays, on weekends, and on other occasions.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s rights and responsibility to make important legal decisions for the children, including decisions about education, health care, religion, and more.
Fathers involved in child custody litigation face decisions about both the physical custody and legal custody of their child. Legal custody can be awarded solely to one parent or jointly to both:
• Sole Custody
Sole legal custody means that only one parent has the right to make important legal decisions for the children.
• Joint Custody
Joint legal custody is more common. Under joint custody orders, both parents share the right to make the children’s important legal decisions.
Oklahoma appeals courts recently recognized a third concept in child custody – that of the primary custodial parent. Even though both parents might have otherwise equal authority under a joint custody order, when a parent decides to move a significant distance away courts may ask which parent is the primary custodian. The parent without primary custody may enjoy less latitude to move the child.
Yet, since Oklahoma courts have only rarely if ever determined who is a primary custodial parent, a dad seeking to relocate with or to protect a child from a distant relocation needs the skill of a Tulsa child custody attorney for men to address the question of primary custody.
Ultimately, the court has wide discretion in determining child custody, and it is always guided by what the court deems to be in a children’s best interests. When you have custody concerns, connect with a skilled Tulsa father’s rights lawyer today.
If you already have a court-ordered custody arrangement, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the custody schedule must remain static throughout your children’s childhood years. The court recognizes that people’s lives, living situations, careers, and addresses evolve over the years and that sometimes the changes affect how child custody arrangements play out. As such, a parent can file a Motion to Modify Custody Order.
The court typically won’t consider such a modification unless a substantial change in circumstances that affects the best interests of your children prompted you to do so. For example, if your children’s custodial parent is moving out of state, this would likely rise to the level of a substantial change. Finally, the court – in specific situations – may take older children’s personal preferences into consideration regarding custody modifications. If you believe a custody modification may be in order in your case, consult with an experienced Tulsa child custody attorney for men today.
Custody vs. Visitation
Outdated patterns in divorce court awarded custody to moms and visitation to dads. Those days are gone. In sole custody arrangements, time the non-custodial parent spends with a child might be considered visitation. Many fathers prefer to consider this parenting time instead of visitation. They seek to maximize their parenting time, either through maximizing the number of days visitation is awarded to the non-custodial parent or by reaching a joint-custody settlement.
If you are satisfied with your former spouse making all major decisions about your child’s future – including whether the child will move out of state – visitation can be a perfectly viable approach to parenting. Otherwise, if you want to maintain a parental role that includes authority to make major decisions for the child, you may prefer to seek joint custody. Whatever you decide, when there is a dispute between parents, courts decide a father’s visitation rights in Oklahoma first in view of the best interests of the child.
Emergency Custody Orders
Care and custody of children tend to be a top priority for most parents involved in a divorce, but sometimes, custody arrangements devolve into dangerous situations for the children involved.
Sometimes not-so-dangerous circumstances might can be seen as dangerous by the other parent in the heat of the divorce moment. Divorce is emotionally taxing, and sometimes, the stress plays out in ways that are less than ideal for the children of the marriage. Dysfunctional habits that precipitated a divorce can grow into dangerous outbursts when fueled by frustration and despair. New dysfunctions can emerge after a divorce, rendering a parent unsafe for children in their care.
Whatever the situation, the court allows for emergency custody orders under certain circumstances:
• If the parent seeking the emergency order has a police report that reveals the children to be living in unsafe conditions that are likely to cause irreversible harm if they continue.
• If the parent seeking the emergency order has a notarized affidavit from a person with first-hand information related to the children living in unsafe conditions that are likely to subject them to irreversible harm if they continue.
Whether you are seeking an emergency custody order as the plaintiff or are facing an emergency custody order as the defendant, you need a dedicated Tulsa fathers’ rights attorney on your side.
Talk to a Tulsa Child Custody Attorney for Men Today
When you are facing a divorce, your child custody arrangements are no doubt foremost on your mind. Dedicated child custody attorneys for men have the experience, skill, and compassion to aggressively advocate for your parental rights. If you have court-ordered custody arrangements that no longer make sense in you and your children’s lives, a dad’s rights lawyer can also help with that.
Your relationship with your children matters far too much not to fight for the child custody arrangements you and they deserve. Our dedicated legal team is here to help, so please call our office at 918-986-7724 for more information today. You can also send us an email through our online contact form.