Whether to seek sole custody in an Okmulgee, Oklahoma divorce is a tough decision. In making that decision, each parent must look not only at the baseline question of whether to try to get sole custody, but also their reasons why.
Know that a court may not grant sole custody no matter how long or hard you fight for it. Here are some things you might want to consider in making that decision.
Oklahoma Courts Prefer Joint Custody
Oklahoma family courts try to minimize the negative impacts of the divorce upon the children, and prefer joint custody if at all possible. Each court encourages parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing. Also, courts prefer that a child maintain frequent and continuing contact with both parents as that is usually in the child’s best interests. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 112
And it is the best interests of the child that usually govern a court’s child custody determination. Often, this results in joint custody. However, it can result in sole custody with frequent visitation.
Unless there is a good reason not to allow that contact, a court is more likely to order custody that will ensure frequent contact.
Situations in Which a Court May Grant Sole Custody
There are situations in which an Oklahoma family court may grant sole custody to one of the parents.
For example, there are situations in which one of the parents does not want custody. This often occurs when one of the parents lives far away from the child. In that case, making decisions together regarding the child may not be practical or even feasible.
There are also situations in which one of the parents simply does not want the child. It could be that the child was unplanned, or that the parent does not want the daily responsibility of caring for a child. In any of these situations, a court may grant sole custody to the other parent.
There are also situations in life that leave a parent unable or unqualified to care for a child. Typical situations can include drug or alcohol abuse, severe spousal abuse, severe mental illness, or other issues such as homelessness. In all of these situations, it may be better for the child if one of the parents has sole custody and the other parent has frequent visitation.
There is one other situation in which the courts may grant sole custody. Continuing and prolonged conflict between the parents is harmful to the children of the marriage. That is true even after divorce.
Because of this, a court may grant sole custody when the parents’ relationship is especially contentious. In that situation, it is unlikely that the parents will be able to work together in rearing the child. Joint custody would only prolong their conflict and have adverse effects on the child.
Whether you are in the middle of your divorce, contemplating a divorce, or thinking about a child custody modification, you will want the help and guidance of an experienced Okmulgee child custody attorney.
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