In early January of 2019, a group known as the Oklahoma Fathers’ Rights Movement had its first meeting to try to change the laws in the Sooner State regarding child custody. The group claims that fathers lose child custody in about 87 percent of all divorce battles. They’d like to see that edge closer to a 50/50 split.


Are child custody decisions really that lopsided in Oklahoma, though? What exactly are the laws in Oklahoma pertaining to child custody?


Types of Child Custody in Oklahoma


In early January of 2019, a group known as the Oklahoma Fathers’ Rights Movement had its first meeting to try to change the laws in the Sooner State regarding child custody. The group claims that fathers lose child custody in about 87 percent of all divorce battles. They’d like to see that edge closer to a 50/50 split.


Are child custody decisions really that lopsided in Oklahoma, though? What exactly are the laws in Oklahoma pertaining to child custody?

 

Types of Child Custody in Oklahoma

 In Oklahoma, child custody laws are outlined in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. When we discuss custody, there are two types of custody at issue: legal custody and physical custody. Often times, physical custody is described as “visitation” or the amount of time the child(ren) spend with each parent. Legal custody is the ability to make decisions regarding the child(ren)’s health, education, welfare, and more. 

Joint custody is the ideal solution when the parents of a child get divorced. In this situation, both parents have an equal say regarding the important decisions of a child’s life. This can include decisions regarding a child’s health, education, and more. Parents that share joint custody also share the day-to-day care of the child. Joint legal custody can result in a variety of physical custody or visitation schedules that range from equal time to standard visitation.

 

Joint custody with a primary decision-maker means that both parents have a say in decisions regarding health, education, and more.  However, if the parties cannot agree on a decision, the parent with primary custody is the final decision-maker. Joint legal custody with a primary decision maker can result in a variety of physical custody or visitation schedules that range from equal time to standard visitation.

 

Sole custody refers to a situation where only one parent makes the important decisions for a child. Sole Custody can result in a variety of physical custody or visitation schedules that range from equal time to standard visitation.

 

Split custody is a rarer situation, but it does happen, particularly when children are older. When split custody is awarded, it is awarded to families with multiple children. One parent is awarded custody of at least one child, and the other parent is awarded custody of at least one other child.

 

When a couple with children is married and goes through a divorce, the courts will determine a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. No parent wins favor with the court simply because they are the mother or father of the child. This changes, though, when a couple has children, are not married, and decide to split up.

 

Child Custody and Unwed Parents

 

Oklahoma is sometimes referred to as a “mother state” due to the fact that when a couple is not married but has a child together, the courts will most often grant the mother custody in the event the relationship dissolves. This is outlined in10 O.S.2011 & Supp. 2016 §§ 7700-101 through 7800.  Section 7800 provides, "Except as otherwise provided by law, the mother of a child born out of wedlock has custody of the child until determined otherwise by a court of competent jurisdiction." 10 O.S.2011 § 7800.

 

The father can fight for child custody rights, but the chances of receiving it are much better if the father already appears on the child’s birth certificate. If they do not, they will have to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. These forms are legally-binding and as such, both parents must sign them, as well as a witness. Once these forms are filed, it is also a lengthy process to have them undone, so it’s important both parents are in agreement.

 

Let an Oklahoma Family Lawyer Fight for Your Custody Rights

 

Child custody is one of the most complex and emotionally-charged issues of any divorce. Hiring a family lawyer in Oklahoma can remove some of the emotions in these cases while still ensuring a parent’s rights are upheld in court.

 

If you are going through a divorce and there are children involved, contact Banks, Gillett, Gillett, PLLC at (405) 607-4800 and let one of our attorneys review your case today. We will provide sound advice and act as your advocate during child custody hearings and all aspects of your divorce. Call us now or fill out our online form to learn more about what we can do for you.