The most important thing when it comes to children is a close and nurturing relationship. At the end of any custody or divorce case involving children, the Oklahoma court makes a ruling as to which parent will have legal custody of the child (children) and how much parenting time a child spends with each parent.

Child custody refers to the rights and obligations of the parent or parents, regarding a child (children) after a divorce, legal separation, or paternity decree. There are two independent types of custody.

  • Physical custody refers to the amount of time each parent is permitted to spend with a child. This may be sole, primary, or joint custody.
  • Legal custody refers to a parent’s decision-making rights regarding a child’s health, education, and welfare. It too, may be sole, primary, or joint custody.

The parent with sole legal child custody has the legal authority to make major decisions on behalf of the child (children. To have the court modify the custody designation once a parent has been granted sole custody, the remaining parent must prove the custodial parent has had a substantial negative change in his or her ability to parent. In the interest of the child (children) it is especially important to have the proper outcome at trial.

In assigning custody, the court determines what is in the best interests of the child. This includes the following relevant factors:

  • The emotional ties between the child and other family members.
  • The interest of the parties involved and attitudes toward the child.
  • The desirability of continuing an existing relationship.
  • The abuse of one parent by the other.
  • The primary caregiver preference, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court.
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship. However, the court may not consider such willingness and ability if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or engaged in a pattern of behavior of abuse against the parent or the child and that a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either parent or the child.

In Oklahoma, no preference in custody is given to the mother over the father for the sole reason she is the mother, nor shall any preference be given to the father over the mother for the sole reason he is the father.

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