Visitation and Custody of Children in Oklahoma

The “best interests of the child” criteria is used by Oklahoma courts, like those in other states, to make decisions about child custody and visitation. The usual inquiries about Oklahoma’s custody and visitation laws are addressed in this page.

Visit our Oklahoma website for further details on concerns related to Oklahoma family law. In our Child Custody section, you can also discover articles about custody and visitation.

Child Custody Laws in Oklahoma
The term “child custody” refers to all parental rights in a child’s upbringing, including the authority to control a kid’s activities and make decisions about their upbringing, care, education, health, and religion. Physical custody and legal custody are distinguished under Oklahoma’s child custody statutes.

Physical and Legal Custody
A parent who has “physical custody” of the child resides with them. One parent may have sole physical custody while the other enjoys visitation rights, or the parents may split physical custody. Legal custody is the authority a parent has to act in a child’s best interests.

A parent with legal custody has the authority to determine whether a kid should receive a particular medical treatment, where they should go to school, and if they should practice a particular religion.

Equal legal rights apply to mothers and fathers when requesting custody of their minor children. The judge’s choice will ultimately be based on what is best for the child. This holds true for both paternity and divorce cases.

Joint Parentage
Joint custody means that both parents share some or all of the responsibilities for a child’s physical and legal upbringing, custody, and control. Joint legal custody parents share responsibility for their children’s upbringing and collaborate on important decisions.

Although not always equally, parents who have joint physical custody will spend a lot of time together as a family. For instance, if you were granted joint custody, one parent might spend 4 nights a week with the child while the other spends 3 nights a week with the child.

Solitary Custody
Both sole physical and/or exclusive legal custody may be given to one parent. Sole custody, as the name suggests, grants the child’s legal or physical custody to just one parent.

Without the other parent’s input, a parent with sole legal custody can choose where their child will go to school. The other parent (known as the “noncustodial parent”) is nonetheless allowed frequent visits even if the parent with sole physical custody spends the majority of time with the child.

Shared Custody
Split custody refers to a custody agreement in which one or more of the children of the couple are given to each parent. For instance, in a divided custody arrangement, one parent might be given custody of the couple’s twin daughters while the other is given custody of the boy. In addition to having the right to frequent visits with the kids they don’t live with, both parents must reside with some of their kids.

Divided custody arrangements known as “birdnesting” give kids more stability. The children will reside at the family home full-time under a bird’s nest custody arrangement, and the parents will alternately move in and out of the house. Birdnesting arrangements are uncommon and demand a great deal of parental collaboration.

How Does an Oklahoma Court Determine Custody?
Any custody decision in Oklahoma must be made with the child’s best interests in mind. The following elements, among others, will be considered by the judge when assessing the child’s requirements, the parents’ capacity to meet those needs, and all other pertinent circumstances:

willingness of each parent to help establish a bond between the child and the other parent
the physical and mental well-being of each parent
educational and emotional requirements of the child
each parent’s general stability and either parent’s history of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect
the child’s bond with siblings and other family members the child’s adjustment to school, home, and community
The use of drugs or alcohol by either parent, as well as a child’s preference in some situations.
In Oklahoma, there is a rebuttable presumption against granting custody, legal guardianship, or unsupervised visitation to those who are registered sexual offenders, anyone living with a registered sex offender, convicted child abusers, people living with convicted child abusers, people who are alcohol or drug dependent, and those who are domestic abusers or people living with domestic abusers. Refer to OK Stat. 43-112.5. (2020).

A violent parent will likely not be granted custody, but he or she will still be allowed visitation, most likely under supervision. Unless the court is confident that the kid is secure in that parent’s care, restrictions on a parent’s visitation, such as supervised visits, remain in place.

It’s crucial to understand that a judge cannot decide custody based on a parent’s ethnicity or gender. A judge cannot, for example, grant custody to a mother over a father based only on the woman’s gender.

What Is the Oklahoman Norm for Visitation?
Any visitation plan can be created by parents who can agree on custody, provided it is in the child’s best interests. When parents are unable to come to an agreement, a judge will set up a visitation schedule. Minimum visitation requirements are outlined in the Oklahoma visitation form.

A noncustodial parent may have more visitation than the minimum permitted by the guidelines, but not less. This often entails overnight visits every other weekend and one weekday with the child per week for the noncustodial parent.

Holiday and summer vacation visits will be specified in the visitation orders. On important holidays, parents typically alternate who has the kids. The children may spend Thanksgiving with one parent, while Hanukkah or Christmas may be spent with the other parent. The mechanics of visitation, such as transportation between visits, will be covered in your visitation order as well.

Holiday and summer vacation visits will be specified in the visitation orders. On important holidays, parents typically alternate who has the kids.

In Oklahoma, do kids have a voice in custody disputes?
Even if a child displays a preference for which parent gets to have custody, the decision in the case will be based on what is best for the child, not what the youngster wants. Children who are 12 years old or older are given some consideration under Oklahoma’s child custody rules.

Typically, a youngster can express a thoughtful, well-informed preference when they are 12 years old. The custody requests of a younger child may still be taken into account by the judge, but they won’t likely be given much weight.

Why, if I’m a good parent, do I need to take parenting classes?
Regardless of how terrific a parent you are, a divorce can significantly alter how parents interact with their children. The impact of those adjustments on the kids must be as little as possible. Parents involved in a custody dispute must go to a parenting education course, according to Oklahoma law and local court regulations as well as joint custody Oklahoma laws saying that too.

The conference will cover a variety of topics, including the effects of co-parenting and separate parenting on children, visitation and dispute resolution, developmental stages of children, and child financial responsibilities. Individual treatment is not the intended purpose of the course. The session will have been worthwhile if you learn even one thing that will benefit you or your kids.

Can My Custody Order Be Modified?
A request to change a custody arrangement may be made by either parent. The parent requesting a change in custody must demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the previous custody arrangement and that changing custody is in the best interests of the kid.

Particularly, a parent’s second marriage or new employment is typically insufficient to support a change in custody. A custody change might be necessary if one parent has moved abroad or the custodial parent is experiencing a serious health issue.

Can the child move with one parent?
One parent must give written notice to the other parent of their intention to move with the kid at least 60 days before the relocation is anticipated or within ten days of learning of the move. When a parent is relocating more than 75 miles away, this regulation is applicable.

The notification should include the moving parent’s new address, phone number, moving date, moving-related details, and a suggested timetable for time-sharing with the kids after the move.

The opposing parent may launch a lawsuit to stop the relocation of the custodial parent if they object to the move. In order to determine if the move is justified and whether it would be in the child’s best interests for the moving parent to retain custody, a court will schedule a hearing and analyze the available information.

If one parent isn’t providing child support, can the other parent refuse visitation?
No, a parent cannot deny their child visitation because the other parent hasn’t made a support payment. In other words, a right doesn’t result from two wrongs. Both failing to grant access to a kid and failing to pay child support do not justify depriving a parent of their right to do so.

If the court determines that the custodial parent has interfered with the non-custodial parent’s right to visitation in an unreasonable manner, the court may order make-up visits, the posting of a bond that will be forfeited if visitation does not take place, attorneys’ fees and costs, or another suitable remedy.