Child custody is one of the thorniest issues to be resolved when parents are divorcing. Issues are around children are always highly emotionally charged. Often, parents start the divorce process without really understanding how to best work together to resolve child custody issues. Other times, parents try to use the children as pawns to cause the other spouse emotional turmoil. Oklahoma courts take child custody seriously. Here is an overview of Muskogee child custody laws.
All Issues Regarding Children Must Be Resolved In The Divorce
All issues of child custody, support, and visitation will be decided in the process of the divorce before the final decree is issued. When parents can resolve these issues between themselves, they can retain much more control over their divorce. When they are unable to resolve them, the court will decide the issues for them. Hence, a qualified Muskogee attorney can help.
Temporary Orders Of Custody And Support
If minor children are involved, once the petition for divorce is filed, the court will issue temporary orders regarding the children. This is to ensure that children continue their lives as normally as possible. Courts are aware of the impact of divorce on children and seek to minimize that impact wherever possible. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 112
These orders are usually temporary and are put in place until more permanent orders can be determined.
Types Of Child Custody
Custody can best be thought of as an umbrella of rights with regard to a child. Courts divide custody between physical and legal custody. These two areas of custody can be either sole or shared between the parents.
Physical custody concerns itself with living arrangements. It answers the question of where and with whom the child lives.
When physical custody is sole, that means that the child lives with one parent, the custodial parent. The other parent then maintains visitation with the child.
When physical custody is shared or joint, the child lives with both parents. Parenting time is split between the parents according to a schedule that they must devise.
Legal custody concerns itself with the question of which parent or parents are making the major decisions in the child’s life. This too can be either joint or sole. These types of decisions can be medical, such as giving consent for certain types of medical procedures. They can also concern issues around education, such as what school the child will attend.
The Joint Custody Parenting Plan
Many parents choose to share custody. Whenever a parent asks for joint custody, the parents must submit a parenting plan to the court for consideration. The court uses the parenting plan as a starting point for coordinating many of the issues regarding the children. Parents can submit one joint parenting plan or submit separate plans.
The parenting plan must cover all the following logistics:
- where the children will live, with whom, and when;
- how medical and dental insurance and care will be provided and paid for;
- how child support will be handled;
- visitation schedule; and
- where the children will go to school.
All of the court’s decisions regarding the children are made with the best interests of the children in mind.
Understanding The Best Interests Of The Child
This is the standard used by courts in making decisions regarding the child or children involved. All decisions regarding the children must be made with their best interests as the foremost criterion for the decision being made.
The court will look at the totality of the circumstances when making decisions regarding custody. Continuing contact with both parents is important for the child. Courts encourage both parents to be active and to share responsibilities regarding the child unless there is a reason not to. . Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 112
Factors In Custody Determinations
Courts do not maintain a legal preference for or against joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or sole custody in any case. Rather, the court looks at the best interests of the child in making its custody determination.
When it is in the best interests of the child, custody is to be awarded in a way that assures the frequent and continuing contact of the child with both parents. Thus, a court may look to which parent is more likely to allow the child or children frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent.
When there are issues of substance abuse, criminal activity, or domestic violence, a court will often tailor issues of custody and visitation to ensure the child is safe, the home is stable, and the child has continuing contact in a safe way. This may mean supervised visitation for a period of time.
Custody orders are not permanent. They can be subject to modification if one of the parents requests it. Things change as parents move on with their lives and as children grow older.
Tribal Jurisdiction In Child Custody Matters
McGirt v. Oklahoma (2020) restored recognized reservation boundaries of five tribes to include most of Eastern Oklahoma. State and tribal courts are in the process of sorting out how McGirt affects family law matters. Tribal members can file for divorce in state court or in their respective tribal courts.
Tribal courts may decline to accept family law cases, transferring the matter to state court. Each case should be considered based on the particular facts and the current laws, policies, and practices of the parties’ tribes. We are able to represent clients in most tribal court matters.
Questions of custody, support, and visitation can be complex. Bring these questions to an experienced Muskogee family law attorney.
Free Consultation: Muskogee Child Custody Attorney
When you decide to get a divorce and have children, you may feel nervous about your child custody 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.