Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
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What are my rights and responsibilities as a parent?
Being a parent means having certain rights. These rights include the right to seek custody of the child, seek visitation, be informed about the child's education and health, participate in decision-making about education and medical care, and be notified and heard before a court terminates a parental right. Being a parent also means having certain responsibilities to your child.These responsibilities include the necessary support of the child. It exists whether or not the parents were ever married.
Can I get visitation with my children without a Court Order?
Yes, but if you are in a divorce situation, the court must deal with visitation and custody. However, if you are unmarried or separated from your spouse, you may be able to work out a visitation schedule on your own.In fact, if you have a good relationship with the other parent and can work out a parenting plan on your own. It may be better to reach an agreement with the other parent rather than have a judge make a decision for both of you. After all, it is the parents who often know what is best for their child.
Many counties have a programs to help unwed or separated parents create parenting plans. Dial 2-1-1 for services in your local community. For example, in Tulsa, a program is offered at little or no cost through Family and Children Services' Parent Connections Division at (918) 587-9471.
If there is no specific program in your area, every county has access to an Early Settlement Mediation Program through the courts. For very low cost, you can use the Early Settlement Program's trained mediators to work with the other parent to reach a schedule you can both agree on. This is a link to the Early Settlement Mediation Programs
Also, it is very important that you understand that being a parent DOES NOT automatically give you specific visitation rights. Being a parent gives you the right to "seek" visitation. That means that if you cannot work out a visitation agreement with the other parent, then you MUST go to court to get a Visitation Order. A Visitation Order requires the other parent to give you visitation.
What if I have an Order and the other parent still will not let me see my kids?
You have two options. First, you can file a "Contempt" action against the other parent. Contempt means that the other parent has willfully refused to obey a court order. Contact an attorney if you wish to file an Application for Contempt.&The other option is to file a "Motion to Enforce Visitation Rights." This motion is an easy way to get fast results from the court.It is a motion that you can prepare and file on your own. If you would like more information on how to file a Motion to Enforce Visitation, please contact Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
Online forms will be available soon.
Please check this link to the Self-Help Forms page http://oklaw.org/legal-aid-self-help-forms
What if I am behind on my child support?
Child support does not affect visitation.If you have a Visitation Order in place, you have the right to see your children as scheduled, no matter how far behind you are on child support.The other parent cannot use child support as an excuse to deny you visitation. However, you should ALWAYS try to pay something on your child support-even if you cannot pay the full amount. While the other parent cannot deny you visitation, he or she can enforce the child support order by filing a Contempt action against you that could lead to fines, jail or both. If you are at least trying to pay, you cannot be found in Contempt.
What is "Supervised Visitation"?
Supervised Visitation means that you cannot visit with your child alone--a relative, friend or someone that you hire is present with you during your visit with your child.In most cases, the court orders supervised visitation when there is concern for the child's well-being, such as when there are allegations of abuse.However, supervised visitation can also be ordered when the child is an infant and the non-custodial parent needs assistance in caring for the child. Also, supervised visitation may be a good idea in cases where the child has not had much contact with the visiting parent. Supervised visitation does not have to be permanent. You can agree with other parent to have supervised visitation for a certain amount of time and then go to a standard visitation schedule, but, if the court orders supervised visitation, you must comply with the court's order.
What kind of visitation does a court order?
Unless there is a concern about the safety of a child being with a parent, usually because there are problems about child abuse, drug use, heavy alcohol use, or other similar reason, a Court will order visitation by the parent not receiving physical or sole custody. There are several kinds of visitation:
• Weekend visitation: This will involve visitation over a weekend from a set time usually on Friday until a set time on either Sunday evening or Monday morning. Holiday and summer visitation will overrule weekend visitation. In many visitation orders this visitation will stop in June, July and part of August because of summer visitation.
• Holiday visitation: This kind of visitation usually involves a schedule to alternate certain holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring break. Other holidays can be included in the order. This visitation will take place if there is a conflict with the scheduled weekend visitation.
• Summer visitation: This visitation will provide one or more extended periods of visitation during June, July and August. Weekend visitation does not interrupt a summer visitation.
The following is an example of a standard visitation schedule. This information is provided to assist you with creating your own visitation agreement with the other parent.
Sample Standard Visitation Schedule
A. WEEKEND VISITATION
The 1st and 3rd full weekends of every month, from 6:00 p.m. on Friday until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, commencing with the first such weekend following the effective date of this Order.
A "full weekend" is one in which Friday, Saturday and Sunday all occur during the same month.
B. HOLIDAY VISITATION
1. Even-numbered years:
(a) President's Day: 6:00 p.m. Friday preceding President's Day until 6:00 p.m. Monday.
(b) Memorial Day: 6:00 p.m. Friday preceding Memorial Day until 6:00 p.m. Monday.
(c) Labor Day: 6:00 p.m. Friday preceding Labor Day until 6:00 p.m. Monday.
(d) Christmas: 6:00 p.m. the day school is out until 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
2. Odd-numbered years:
(a) Martin Luther King's Birthday: 6:00 p.m. Friday until 6:00 p.m. Monday.
(b) Spring Break: 6:00 p.m. Friday until 6:00 p.m. the following Friday.
(c) July 4th: 6:00 p.m. on July 3rd until 11:00 p.m. on July 4th.
(d) Thanksgiving: 6:00 p.m. Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.
(e) Christmas: 10:00 p.m. Christmas Eve until 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes in January.
3. The custodial parent is entitled to spend holidays with the child on the converse of the holiday visitation schedule, above, even if those holidays conflict with weekend visitation.
4. In the event of a conflict, holiday visitation takes precedence over weekend visitation, even if that means one parent will have the child three weekends in a row.
C. FATHER'S/MOTHER'S DAY
In the event of a conflict with weekend visitation, the child shall spend Father's Day with the Father and Mother's Day with the mother, from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
D. SUMMER VISITATION
From 6:00 p.m. on June 15 until 6:00 p.m. on June 30, and from 6:00 p.m. on August 1 until 6:00 p.m. on August 15, unless otherwise agreed by the parents.
E. GENERAL PROVISIONS
1. Both parents shall be allowed liberal telephone communications with the child.
2. Both parents are ordered to keep each other informed of their respective addresses and telephone numbers.
3. Holidays and other dates shall be determined in accordance with the calendar of the school the child attends. If the child is not attending school, then dates shall be determined according to the calendar for the public school district in which the child resides.
4. This Visitation Schedule is intended to provide a minimum level of visitation. The parties are encouraged to provide for additional visitation by mutual agreement.
5. The noncustodial parent is responsible for transportation for visitation, unless otherwise agreed by the parents.
6. Both parents are encouraged to cooperate with each other in promoting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. The mother and father are both ordered to refrain from speaking critically of each other in the presence of the children.
7. If either parent plans to move, he or she is ordered to notify the other parent in writing of the new address at least 30 days in advance.