We have the legal resources to help you obtain the relief you seek in your child custody and visitation case. Mr. Moore is a divorced parent himself and we have helped many others to come out on top in cases like these. We patiently help you to understand the law and we go over with you the facts of the case in such a way that we know how to best protect your rights and your child’s well-being. This way we have a better shot at convincing the judge to take our side.
How is child custody determined? Are there different types of custody?
Generally, child custody in Oklahoma is determined by weighing the best interests of the child. There are many questions the Court asks in determining child custody—which parent is most likely to allow the other to have visitation? Which parent’s work schedule allows him or her to be home when the child is out of school? Does one of the parents travel frequently for work? Does one parent intend to move out of Oklahoma? How far apart do the parents live? Is one of the parents an alcoholic, drug abuser, or convicted of a felony that is considered dangerous to the child? What is the relationship like between the parents?
If there has already been a court determination of custody (for example, in a previous divorce decree), but you want to change it, you will have to prove to the Court that there has been a “substantial and permanent” change to the child’s environment which gives the Court a reason to change custody. Some examples of substantial and permanent changes include moves out-of-state by the custodial parent, the loss of a job, a remarriage, or drug and alcohol abuse. A Court will not change custody of a child just because the parents got into a disagreement or aren’t getting along, and failure to pay child support is not usually a reason that custody will be changed.
There are two different “types” of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to receive information about the children and make decisions about the child’s education, religion, medical care, and other important matters. Physical custody is basically who the child lives with most of the time. In many cases, parents will have “joint legal custody” of a child, which means that they both have a say in where the child goes to school, what doctors she sees, and what churches or activities she participates in. Physical custody may be awarded to one parent, with the other getting visitation. This is called “primary physical custody.” If the parents live close enough together and get along well, you might be able to have joint physical custody, where your children live with you roughly half the time and with the other parent the rest of the time. If the other parent is dangerous, or is in some way harmful to your children, you can be granted sole legal and physical custody, which means that the other person does not have any right to contact your child or to make decisions about your child.
What if a child wants to choose to live with one specific parent?
Oklahoma Family law doesn’t allow children to decide which parent they want to live with, but a court determining child custody can take into account the preference of any child over the age of 12. This doesn’t mean that the Court will necessarily do what your child says he wants, but the Court will hear the child’s reasons for wanting to live with one parent or the other.
Do grandparents have rights to contest child custody?
Grandparents can contest custody of a child, but only if the parents are not married. Grandparents can be granted visitation, but have to show the Court that it is in the best interest of the children to have this visitation. In order to show the best interest of the children, grandparents have to prove that either the parents are unfit or that the child would somehow be harmed if not allowed to visit with the grandparents. There are many factors considered in determining the best interests of a child, but Courts will not order grandparents’ visitation if the parents of the child are still married and living together.
If I have lost custody to another child does it guarantee I will lose this time?
Having lost custody of another child in the past does not mean that you will lose this time. The Court will take into account that you lost custody in the past, but will also take into account the circumstances in which you lost custody, your relationship with the child you lost custody of, whether you voluntarily gave up custody, and what your circumstances are now. Having lost custody of a child in the past is definitely a hurdle, but it is not an insurmountable obstacle to your being granted custody of your children in the future.
What should I do next?
Before we meet, you can begin to help by drafting a written narrative, which explains, in your own words, what happened, and you should provide any documents or names of witnesses which might support your story. This way, we have a good idea of where to start in being sure that your rights are protected and that your child’s interests are taken into account.
Why should I choose your firm?
After you retain us, your problem becomes our problem, and you can ease your worries knowing we are protecting your rights and helping you to do what is best for your child.