Child custody battles can be emotionally taxing and legally complex. At Cannon & Associates, we want to empower mothers and fathers with essential knowledge as they navigate child custody decisions. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know.

Oklahoma’s Focus on Children: 

Oklahoma child custody laws prioritize the best interests of the child when determining living arrangements and decision-making authority. There are two main types of custody:

  • Physical Custody: This refers to where the child primarily resides. There can be shared physical custody (both parents have significant time with the child) or sole physical custody (one parent has primary residence with visitation rights for the other).
  • Legal Custody: This refers to the authority to make major decisions about the child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare, and religious matters. Legal custody can be shared (parents make decisions together) or sole (one parent makes decisions).

Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody:

  • Joint Custody: Parents with joint custody, whether physical or legal, share responsibilities and decision-making regarding the child. There can be variations, such as one parent having slightly more physical custody time than the other.
  • Sole Custody: One parent is awarded sole physical and/or legal custody if deemed to be in the child’s best interest. This means the other parent may have limited decision-making authority or visitation rights.

Additional Custody Arrangements:

  • Split Custody: Each parent has primary custody of one or more children.
  • Birdnesting: The children remain in the family home, and parents rotate living elsewhere, minimizing disruption for the child (uncommon).

Factors Considered in Custody Decisions: What Courts Look At

When determining custody arrangements, Oklahoma courts consider various factors, including:

  • Child’s Best Interests: The court’s primary concern is the child’s well-being. Considered factors include:
    • Age
    • Emotional and physical needs
    • Relationship with each parent
  • Parenting Abilities: The court evaluates each parent’s ability to provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment. This includes:
    • Employment stability
    • Housing
    • Involvement in the child’s life
  • Parent-Child Relationship: The quality of the relationship between each parent and the child is crucial. Courts assess:
    • Parent’s involvement in upbringing
    • Ability to foster a positive relationship
    • Any history of abuse or neglect
  • Co-Parenting Ability: The court considers each parent’s willingness and ability to:
    • Cooperate
    • Communicate effectively regarding the child’s upbringing

Navigate Child Custody Proceedings: Tips for Parents

  • Focus on the Child: Keep the child’s best interests at the forefront of your actions and decisions. Demonstrate your commitment to fostering a loving and supportive environment for your child.
  • Open Communication: Maintain open and respectful communication with the other parent. Effective communication can help reduce conflict and facilitate co-parenting arrangements.
  • Seek Legal Guidance: Understand your rights and responsibilities under Oklahoma’s child custody laws. Consider consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.
  • Consider Mediation: If possible, explore mediation as an alternative to litigation. Mediation can empower parents to reach mutually agreeable custody arrangements while minimizing the stress and conflict often associated with courtroom battles.
  • Stay Flexible: Recognize that custody arrangements may need to evolve over time to accommodate changes in the child’s needs or circumstances. Remain flexible and willing to revisit custody agreements as necessary.

Working Towards a Positive Outcome in Child Custody Cases

Navigating child custody requires legal understanding, emotional resilience, and a commitment to prioritizing the child’s well-being. By familiarizing yourself with the considerations, seeking legal guidance, and approaching the process with empathy and cooperation, you can work towards a custody arrangement that serves your child’s best interests.

At Cannon & Associates, we provide compassionate and comprehensive legal representation, built on a foundation of informing and advocating for our clients throughout their journey. Contact us today for a free case strategy session here or call us at (405) 358-4902 to get your questions answered.


Monthly legal tip: Enhancing Co-Parenting Communication

  1. Establish Consistent Communication Channels:

Whether it’s email, a co-parenting app, or regular check-ins, establishing consistent communication channels helps in staying informed about your child’s well-being.

  1. Be Clear and Concise:

When communicating with the other parent, be clear and concise in your messages. Avoid unnecessary details or emotional discussions, focusing on the child’s needs and schedules.

  1. Create a Shared Calendar:

Use shared digital calendars to keep track of important dates, parenting time, and events. This minimizes misunderstandings and ensures both parents are on the same page. (You can download a free copy on our website here)

  1. Respect Boundaries:

Respect each other’s boundaries and privacy. Focus your communication on matters directly related to the child, avoiding personal or contentious topics.

  1. Seek Professional Assistance:

If communication challenges persist, consider involving a mediator or counselor to facilitate productive discussions and find common ground. Effective communication is crucial for the well-being of your child.