If you are a dad trying to get custody of your children, you might feel that you have huge obstacles to overcome. That is not necessarily the case.
The law in this state is gender neutral. If a skilled family attorney can prove that your lifestyle accommodates caring for your children and that you have been an involved parent—your chances of getting joint custody are excellent.
If you wish to gain sole custody of your children, you must prove their mother is less fit than you are for custody. Doing so is difficult, stressful, and could lead to prolonged litigation. However, an Oklahoma City child custody lawyer at The Smith Firm could prepare a robust case and argue strenuously before the court to protect your children.
The word “custody” encompasses two ideas—the physical care of the children and the right to make important decisions about their education, religion, healthcare, and activities. The parent who provides a home for the children most of the time is the custodial parent. The parent who is with the children at the time makes day-to-day decisions about chores, homework, screen time, and similar issues.
If one parent has sole physical custody, the children live with that parent most of the time, and the other parent has standard visitation rights. Standard visitation in Oklahoma means the non-custodial parent keeps the children every other weekend and every other holiday. However, parents are free to make different arrangements if another schedule works better for them.
Courts often award joint legal custody even when they designate one parent to have sole physical custody. Joint legal custody means the parents share decision-making authority. In some cases, the court will designate one parent to have the final say when the parents disagree. In other cases, the judge might designate a third party or require the parents to attend mediation to resolve disputes about their children.
Joint custody means that each parent gets substantial time living with the children and the parents share the authority to make major decisions. Joint custody could mean each parent keeps the children roughly 50 percent of the time, but more often, one parent keeps the children only on weekends and holidays. In general, having the children 120 nights per year or more is joint custody.
In most cases, the children shuttle between their parents’ households—but in some cases—they might stay in one place, and the parents take turns living in the family home. A capable Oklahoma City child custody attorney could help a parent develop a custody arrangement that works best for their family.
If the parents agree and can work together to co-parent effectively, courts support a joint custody arrangement that allows both parents to have significant time with the children. Parents who choose joint custody must submit a detailed plan explaining how the children will divide their time, who will handle transporting them to school and activities, and other practical issues.
Sometimes a parent wants to prevent the other parent from having significant contact with the children. Courts disfavor this and only grant limited access when a parent can prove that contact with the other parent is not in the children’s best interests.
Oklahoma Statutes §43-112.2 requires courts to assume custody is not in a child’s best interests if the parent:
If one parent could prove a child’s other parent falls into one of these categories, they have a good chance of obtaining sole custody of the children.
If a parent does not fit into one of the above categories, but the other parent believes they cannot provide a safe home, a proactive Oklahoma City lawyer could argue for sole custody. In most cases, a parent denied custody would retain visitation rights. One parent concerned about the other parent visiting the child could request supervised visitation—though courts often remove the supervision requirement once the parent demonstrates they can be appropriate at visits.
You value being a parent above all other roles and losing meaningful contact with your children might be one of your greatest fears. An Oklahoma City child custody lawyer could convince a court of your commitment to parenthood and ensure you have adequate time with your children.
Do not put off getting dedicated legal counsel. Schedule a consultation with a seasoned advocate at The Smith Firm today.