Oklahoma Laws on Custody of a Child

By Terri Ellefsen
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Child custody in Oklahoma centers around what is best for the child. State laws do not favor one parent over another in making the decision about which parent should be granted physical custody of the child. Parents may request joint or sole custody, but the court may not honor that request if evidence is introduced showing that an alternate arrangement would be in the child's best interest.

Guardian ad Litem

Oklahoma courts may appoint a guardian ad litem when custody of a child is being contested by either parent. The guardian ad litem is a court-appointed legal representative for the child. This person looks out for the child's best interests in the custody proceedings by reviewing all documents relevant to the case, and by interviewing and meeting with the child and parents. This person might also interview medical personnel and teachers who have contact with the child. The guardian ad litem must attend all court hearings and recommend appropriate services and custody arrangements for the child, based on the facts gathered during the investigation.

Child's Best Interest

Oklahoma state law requires the court to award custody of the child based on what is best for the child. The court may consider the physical and mental welfare of the child in making that decision. The care of the child may involve a sole or joint custody arrangement at the discretion of the judge.

Custody Categories

Oklahoma law allows legal and physical custody arrangements. Legal custody involves both parents having a say in major child-raising decisions, whereas physical custody specifies how much time each parent will spend with the child.

Parents' Plan

If one or both parents file for joint physical custody of the child, they are required to submit a plan with the court stating how that joint custody will be handled between the two. The plan may be submitted jointly, or each parent can submit his or her own plan, including living arrangements for the child, medical care, visitation arrangements, education proposals and child support obligations. Each parent must sign an affidavit agreeing to the plan. The court may order joint custody based on the parents' plan and make modifications where necessary.

Medical and School Records

The custodial parent must provide medical and school records to the noncustodial parent upon request, unless a judge believes it is not in the best interest of the child.

Child Support

If the court requires payment of child support, the noncustodial parent is required to pay that support to the parent who has physical custody of the child.

Domestic Violence

Any allegations of domestic violence in the family will be addressed by the court in granting child custody. If the judge determines that domestic violence has occurred, the judge will place the child with the parent who is not the perpetrator of the violence. The judge will also consider whether harassment or stalking has occurred and take that into consideration in the ruling.

About the Author

Based in Salt Lake City, Terri Ellefsen has written for print and Web media since 1977. Her articles have appeared in "Fairways Magazine" and "The Salt Lake Tribune," where she covered police, courts, education and government. She regularly writes content for business and golf websites.