Child Custody and Visitation
Why Get a Custody Order?
- Helps establish a plan for the care and treatment of a child whose parents are separated.
- Is required as part of a divorce
- A state agency may have required you and the other parent to start a court case involving child custody.
Reasons for Men
- Without marriage to the mother or name on the birth certificate Oklahoma says fathers have no rights until established by a court order. Child support can still be ordered.
- If the child is born during a marriage a man and woman have equal rights. May still need to establish custody, visitation, and child support using the court. Informal agreements are not persuasive with law enforcement or a judge. A court order is needed in many circumstances.
Reasons for Women
- Unless otherwise determined by a court and a father is not listed on the birth certificate - you have custody. If a father is listed on the birth certificate, father shares equal rights.
- The mother can create a custody plan that the court can enforce.
Note: Same sex couples may have to use a different process to establish custody, visitation, and child support.
- By listing a man’s name as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
- A man may sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity to say he is the father. If the man and woman are married another man must sign a Denial of Paternity to say he is not the father. Both of these can be challenged or revoked for a short period of time afterward.
- DNA testing, whether through DHS or done privately if ordered by the court.
- A judge in court has declared a man the father and there is a filed court order signed by a judge to record this.
- The husband is automatically the legal father when the child is born;
- during a marriage or,
- 300 days after a marriage ends through either divorce or other means.
- The man lived with the child for the first two years of the child's life and openly told others he is the father.
Note: A man can be the legal father of a child even if he is not biologically related.
Physical: Which parent the child spends their time with. Includes daytime and overnight visits.
Legal: The ability of a parent to make decisions about where the child goes to school, their healthcare, religion, and other things related to their upbringing.
These are factors a judge considers about each parent and anyone who lives with them when deciding a visitation and custody plan:
- The best interests of the child
- Wishes of the parents, and sometimes of the child
- Mental and physical health of the parties
- Relationship of the parents and child
- Sex offender registration
- Child abuse convictions
- Alcohol and illegal drug use or abuse
- Domestic abuse convictions
- Foreseeable risk of material harm
There are times when one parent chooses not to return the child when they should. If there is no custody order through the court, a judge or law enforcement may not help.
With a court ordered custody plan the parent who should have the child can file a “Motion to Enforce Visitation”. This uses the court to force the other parent to return the child. Makeup visitation can also be ordered.
- Week on/week off: The parents alternate whose home the child is in every other week.
- 4:3:3:4: One parent has four overnights a week and the other has three overnights. The next week, the parents switch who has more overnights and who has fewer.
- Expanded Weekend: The parent with fewer overnight visits has the child from Friday after school or daycare until Monday morning when school or daycare begin.
- Standard Weekends: The parent with fewer overnight visits has the child every weekend from Friday evening until Sunday evening.
- Alternating Weekends: The same as Standard Weekends, but alternating every other week.
- Daytime: Time a parent spends with a child that does not include an overnight. Sometimes Daytime Visitation is the only visitation a parent has, but may also be included as additional time with any of the schedules listed above.
- Supervised: Time a parent spend with a child, but there is always someone else present to supervise and keep an eye on the visit. The supervisor may be family, a friend, or other trusted person.
- Professionally supervised: Where a professional supervises the visit and writes reports.
- Therapeutically supervised: Where a therapist supervises the visit and writes reports.
- Holiday: Some national, religious, personal, or tribal events require changes to the normal schedule. Many parents choose to alternate major holidays every year.