If you are going through a divorce in Muskogee, Oklahoma and have minor children, you will undoubtedly have questions about how child custody will be handled in your divorce. Every divorce is different, because every family’s situation is unique.
Whether you are considering divorce or are in the process of ending your marriage, it is important to understand the laws about child custody as they pertain to your situation. Here are some things that you might want to know.
Child Custody Issues Must be Resolved
Once a couple with minor children files for divorce in Muskogee, the divorce court will take jurisdiction over the issues of child custody, support, and visitation. That means these issues must be resolved as part of the divorce.
Often, when parents can agree on custody, the court will order the custody agreed to by the parents as long as it is in the best interests of the child.
The court makes initial orders regarding these issues soon after the filing of the divorce papers. These initial orders will remain in place until they can be decided upon further along in the process.
Also, the court will retain jurisdiction over custody issues and the like as long as the children remain minors. This allows the court to modify these orders over time if needed. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 112
Different Types of Custody for Different Situations
Custody is divided between physical and legal custody. Both types can be either joint (shared) or sole (one parent).
Physical custody has to do with where the child actually lives. In joint custody, the child lives with each parent. Sometimes that time split is 50/50, sometimes 60/40, or something along those lines.
When one of the parents retains sole physical custody, the child lives with that parent. He or she is called the custodial parent. The other parent (the non-custodial parent) retains visitation rights to see the child on an agreed-upon schedule.
Legal custody refers to the question of who makes major decisions regarding the children. This too can be either joint or sole. Examples of these types of questions revolve around what school they attend, making medical decisions, giving permission for school field trips, and the like.
Joint Custody and the Parenting Plan
When one or both parents request joint custody, the parents are required to submit a parenting plan to the court. Oklahoma courts want to encourage parents to co-parent as effectively as possible. A parenting plan covers:
- where the children will live, and when;
- the handling of medical and dental insurance and care;
- the handling of child support;
- visitation schedule; and
- where the children will go to school.
The court reviews the plan and makes decisions based upon what it deems to be in the best interests of the child. Because joint custody is most often preferred, the parenting plan becomes an effective tool to outline that planned custody.
What Does the Best Interests of the Child Mean?
Divorce is traumatic for everyone going through the process, especially a child. Parents embroiled in the process can often lose sight of how important it is for a child to have a continuing steady relationship with both parents. An angry parent can use a child as a pawn to gain leverage, sometimes without really understanding the negative impact on their child.
Courts try to minimize the negative impacts of the divorce upon the children, working to ensure continuing contact with both parents after the divorce. The court also encourages parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing.
Custody determinations are made with the best interests of the child at heart. This almost always results in some sort of joint custody.
Only when there is overwhelming evidence of abuse or violence do courts award sole custody to one parent. Even in those cases, the court will try to ensure frequent visitation — even if that visitation is court supervised.
Courts no longer consider the gender of the parent when making a decision regarding who should be the custodial parent. A father is as equally likely to be a custodial parent as a mother.
A court may consider a child’s school location to help determine where the child continues to live, as it is usually better not to disrupt a child’s schooling. A court may also consider the location of extended family members who are close to the child in order to not disrupt those relationships if possible.
Finally, a court cannot rule against a parent seeking custody solely on the basis of absence due to military service. However, temporary custody orders may be entered during that time.
Each family situation is a bit different. Bring your questions and concerns to your Muskogee child custody attorney.
Confidential Consultation: Muskogee Child Custody Attorney
Get your questions answered and get the help you need. Understand the law and how it applies to your particular situation. A Muskogee child custody lawyer can help.
Contact us today at 918-884-7774.