Oklahoma Custody Modification Procedure
Step #1: Motion to Modify
The filing of a Motion to Modify Child Support, Child Custody, or Legal Custody formally initiates the modification proceeding in Oklahoma. A Motion to Modify must state information about the parties seeking modification; the jurisdiction of the court to hear the modification; and the Petitioner’s proposal for settling the issues in the case, including custody, child support, legal custody, decision making authority, and other issues.
Step #2: Summons
The Summons in a modification action is the formal notice of the Petitioner filing a Motion to Modify and notifies the Respondent, former spouse, that he or she must file a Response within twenty (20) days of the Motion or may suffer default judgement. The summons must be served on the Respondent, unless he or she waives service by summons.
Step #3: Response
The Respondent, former spouse that did not file the Motion to Modify, must file a Response, which states his or her position on each claim or allegation in the Motion to Modify and may include a Counter Motion to Modify.
Step #4: NO Automatic Temporary Injunctions during Modifications
Automatic Temporary Injunctions are provided for in Oklahoma Statutes Title 43 §110, which provide that upon the filing of a Petition for Divorce, Legal Separation, or Annulment, an Automatic Temporary Injunction shall be in effect against both parties until the final decree is entered or the Petition is dismissed, or until further Order of the Court. These automatic orders protect the interests and assets of the parties during the pending divorce action. HOWEVER, the automatic temporary orders are NOT available in a Motion to Modify.
Step #5: NO Additional Temporary Orders during Modifications
Divorce and Motions to Modify Child Custody, Child Support, and/or Legal Custody, can take considerable time, especially when children are involved. Oftentimes, it is in one or both parties’ best interest to set ground rules beyond the Automatic Temporary Injunctions. Although these ground rules are useful in divorce, including, but not limited to: child custody, child visitation, child support, possession of the marital home, possession of vehicles, support alimony, and possession of specific assets. They ARE NOT AVAILABLE IN MOTION TO MODIFY PROCEEDINGS.
Step #6: Motions
Motions in a Modification proceeding are simply a request by one or both parties for specific orders of the court during the modification process. Either party may submit a formal request to the family law judge for orders during the modification proceeding. Some of the most common motions involve requests for protective orders, restraining orders, and motions to compel discovery. Although motions or applications for temporary orders are unavailable during a modification proceeding, other avenues are available to parties.
Step #7: Hearings
Some issues must be resolved prior to the final modified order and cannot be reached by agreement of the parties. In addition to drafting and submitting motions to the family law court as indicated above sometimes the court will have to hold a hearing to decide the outcome of issues in a modification proceeding.
A common issue litigated in contested custody modification in Oklahoma is where children will live and who will have what decision making authority for the child, i.e. Legal Custody.
Step #8: Discovery
Discovery in a motion to modify, similar to other types of civil cases, is the process that allows each party to submit requests to the other party for information, admissions, or documents, which in theory allows both parties to learn more about the opposing party’s case and position in the modification or child custody case. The primary tools in discovery are interrogatories (questions to the other party); requests for admissions; requests for production (documents and other tangible evidence); and depositions (questioning the other party under oath).
Step #9: Mediation
In Oklahoma, most family law judges require the parties to participate in non-binding mediation prior to having a contested hearing or bench trial on a motion to modify, i.e. child custody trial. Mediation is a process where both parties present their side of the case, including custody, assets, finances, and every other issue to a neutral third-party attorney, mediator, that gives advice on what he or she thinks is reasonable and/or what the trial judge would likely order in the modification hearing.
Often times being properly prepared for this step in the process will allow you and your Oklahoma family law attorney to convince the mediator of your position and potentially the other party. The modification procedure or issues in the motion to modify, such as child custody can be resolved, if the parties reach an agreement during mediation.
Step #10: Custody Trial
Hearings on motion to modify or child custody trials are the final hearing before the family law judge. Both parties present evidence, witnesses, financial records, and even expert witnesses in some cases. The family law judge listens to both parties and will decide the outcome of all issues before the court, including: child custody, child support, and other issues. The non-prevailing party may seek review by appeal. Otherwise, the parties must draft the necessary documents to enforce the Judgement of the Court. The enforced order is typically a modified Joint Custody Plan or Modification to the Divorce Decree.
Step #11: Judgement
The final custody or family law orders of the court, whether agreed or decided at a contested modification trial, governs child custody, child support, and all other issues in a modification hearing.
Oklahoma Custody Modification Procedure
Cannon Law Firm is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for clients facing modifications and child custody cases in Oklahoma. Founder, John Cannon, is a father and dedicated to each and every client facing child custody issues in Oklahoma. We hope this has shed light on the complex process of Oklahoma modification procedure.
Experience matters when you are facing custody modification in Oklahoma. It is important to know the family law attorney you hire is dedicated to your cause and versed in child custody and family law. John Cannon, owner of Cannon & Associates is an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney and our team will be your Fierce Advocate during your Oklahoma divorce case. You may send an email inquiry, complete the contact form on our website, or call at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential consultation.