Child custody and child support in Oklahoma are some of the thorniest issues that a divorcing couple may have to deal with during their divorce. In a time when parents are battling about issues involved in the ending of their relationship, it is hard for them not to involve the children in the process in negative ways. That is why courts overwhelmingly look to the best interests of the child in matters of child custody and child support in Oklahoma.
Muskogee courts look at child custody and child support separately. All parents have a legal duty to support their children until they reach the age of majority, which is 18 in Oklahoma. This is true regardless of who has custody of the children.
Child Custody Issues
For the most part, courts encourage shared or joint custody of the children unless there is a good reason not to. Courts recognize that regular contacts and relationships between children and their parents are important both during the divorce and after. This helps a child feel loved and secure.
Child custody in Muskogee can be joint or sole, physical or legal. Physical custody refers to with whom the child will live. Legal custody refers to the question of who makes decisions about the child.
When both parents request joint custody, the court will often comply with the parents’ request. When parents cannot agree, the court will have to decide these issues. In doing so, it will use the child’s best interests as a guide. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 112
The Court Looks At The Parenting Plan
A parenting plan is submitted to the court whenever one or both parents request joint custody. This document helps the court understand the parents’ plan regarding their child. The court reviews the plan and makes changes if needed.
The plan covers:
- when children will live with each parent;
- medical and dental insurance coverage for the child and who pays for it;
- planned child support;
- a visitation schedule, including holidays and summers; and
- school plans for the child.
The parenting plan is often the basis for both child custody and child support orders. Usually, this means joint custody, but not always. If the court feels sole custody would be in the best interests of the child, it will make that decision.
Best Interests Of The Child May Affect Custody Requests
Sometimes, the court will decide that sole custody and visitation may be in the child’s best interests. In making that determination, the court looks at a number of factors, including:
- each parent’s willingness to allow contact with the child;
- location and role of extended family relationships;
- special medical or mental health needs of the child;
- parental stability;
- parental physical and mental health;
- the child’s preferences;
- parental substance abuse issues;
- domestic abuse history in the home; and
- any history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
Courts tend to look at the totality of the circumstances in making custody or visitation decisions.
Child Support Issues
Child support in Oklahoma is determined by statutory guidelines. That means that a number of factors go into each child support calculation. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118
Parents’ income is pooled, and a calculator is used. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has an online calculator that can show you approximately how much child support you will pay.
Once the income is pooled, allowable expenses such as housing, food, day care, other support payments, and medical and dental insurance are subtracted.
The guideline amount can be adjusted. Adjustments are often made depending on the number of nights spent with each parent or other needs the child may have. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118E
A Note On Tribal Jurisdiction
In 2020, the Supreme Court decided McGirt v. Oklahoma. This decision restored recognized reservation boundaries of five tribes to include most of eastern Oklahoma. State and tribal courts are still sorting out how McGirt affects family law matters.
However, tribal members may turn to tribal courts to determine child custody and child support issues. Tribal courts have jurisdiction to hear child support and custody matters, among other issues, for a child of any federally recognized tribe. 25 U.S.C. Ch. 21 § 1911 (A, B) Indian Child Welfare Act
Tribal courts may accept or decline the matter, transferring it to state court.
Our office is admitted to practice in some tribal courts and can seek further admittance if a particular matter requires access to tribal courts. Talk to a Muskogee attorney right away for help.
Free Consultation: Muskogee Child Support Attorney
When you decide to get a divorce and have children, you may feel nervous about your child support options. However, an experienced Muskogee child support attorney can help bring relief.
A no-cost initial consultation can help you decide whether Wirth Law Office – Muskogee can provide the best Muskogee child custody attorney for your family law matter. Call us today at 918-884-7774.