Custody Issues in Oklahoma
Custody is generally determined based on the “best interest of the child.”
The legal system in this area can be frustrating for women dealing with domestic violence.
The following information was gathered from www.womenslaw.org for Oklahomans. Their site has very valuable information state specific information.
DO YOU NEED A LAWYER
It is always advisable and highly recommended that you have a lawyer help you
when you are dealing with legal issues such as custody. It is especially important if the other parent has one.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to find sources of free or low-cost
legal help in your area.
If you plan to file for custody on your own, you may want to visit:
Even if you plan on representing yourself, you should consider having a lawyer review your papers before you file them.
WHERE DO YOU FIND A LAWYER?
Look in the phone book for your community
Ask for referrals from close friends, family members, etc
*MAKE SURE THE LAWYER SPECIALIZES IN: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE or FAMILY LAW
WHERE SHOULD YOU FILE FOR CUSTODY?
Custody should be filed in the “home state” of the child, according to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act “UCCJEA”.
UCCJEA defines “Home State” as: "Home State" means the State in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding. In the case of a child less than six months of age, the term means the State in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence of any of the mentioned persons is part of the period.
HOW TO GET A CUSTODY ORDER CHANGED?
To change a custody order you file a motion with the court asking them to modify your final custody order. There will most likely be fees involved. If you cannot afford the fees, you may file an Affidavit in forma pauperis, asking the court to wave any court costs.
If you have joint custody of your child, you or the other parent may file with the court to have the custody plan modified. You can also file to get sole custody-which would cut off the other parent's custodial rights. In either case, the judge will decide based on what he or she thinks is in the best interests of the child.
If you have joint custody of your child and you and the other parent go to court to modify the agreement, the judge may appoint an arbitrator to resolve the dispute. This persons decision will be legally binding-meaning, it will be enforced the same as if a judge had made the decision. If a judge orders arbitration and a parent refuses to consent, the court may terminate the joint custody agreement. You may have an attorney present at all times if you want one. It is recommended that you get an attorney if you can afford one or obtain one through free or low cost legal services.
To modify a sole custody award from the other parent to you, you will be required to show the Court that there has been a permanent, material and substantial change in the custodial situation, (in the other parent's situation, not an improvement in yours) that negatively affects the child. This is to prevent parents from battling constantly in court to change custody and provide for stability in the child's life. For example, the custodial parent being charged with drug possession would very likely be considered a change in circumstances, . The court would then be concerned about whether your home now is better for the child than the other parents home.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO CHANGE THE STATE WHERE THE CUSTODY CASE IS BEING HEARD?
This can be done, but it is complicated. It is best to have a lawyer help you if you
can afford one.
This maybe possible if you move to a different state from the state where the custody case originated. If the other parent no longer lives in the sate that made the original custody orders, it is even more likely that you will be able to change states.
To change States the current judge who is hearing the case will have to be asked
to change the jurisdiction of your case.
CAN TEMORARY CUSTODY BE PART OF THE RESTRAINING ORDER?
A protective order against the other parent does not give you custody or suspend the other parent’s custodial or visitation rights.
When a judge grants a protective order the judge may suspend the other parent’s visitation or custodial rights to protect against abuse, threats of violence, or threats to violate an existing custody order if you have alleged that the child was harmed or likely to be harmed by the other parent.
However, it is likely that you will have to file for temporary emergency custody.
IS TEMPORARY EMERGENCY CUSTODY AVAILABLE?
You can ask for temporary emergency custody if there is a likelihood of physical
or emotional harm to your child as a result of past or ongoing actions.
Temporary emergency custody has to be asked for in the child’s home state or in
the state where the child is.
If the judge grants the emergency order, it can grant you custody, change your
current custody order, or terminate the other parent’s visitation.
If the other parent has a lawyer, that lawyer must be notified if you request emergency custody. If the other parent does not have a lawyer, then notice is not necessary.
After you file for emergency custody, there will be another hearing within ten days. At this hearing the judge has the option to keep the emergency orders in place, change them, or terminate them.
It is beneficial for you to consult with a lawyer or a domestic violence agency prior to filing for emergency custody