The Custody Lawyer OKC Families Trust

A little girl covering her ears while her parents fight in the background. Deciding custody of a child can be stressful and complicated. Our Oklahoma City child custody lawyer can help navigate this legal process for the best possible outcome.

At Cannon & Associates, we are dedicated to fiercely advocating for families and freedom. For couples with children, child custody is inevitably the most complicated family law matter, and one of the most emotional aspects of divorce.

Determining custody is almost always a lengthy and complex process, and it requires an experienced family law team that is ready to fight for the best interests of the child, as well as your rights.

Doing so requires both skill and compassion, as well as regular and meaningful communication. This will allow you to feel secure in the knowledge that everything possible is being done for your case.

Call us today to arrange a free consultation with one of our skilled child custody lawyers in Oklahoma City. Call us now at (405) 591-3935.

a mother and daughter looking at computer together

How to Begin a Child Custody Case in Oklahoma City, OK

The first step in a family law case involving child custody is for one parent to file a Petition for Divorce or a Petition for Child Custody. This typically asks for sole custody, although often, that will not likely be the end result.

One parent will then need to request a Temporary Custody Order, which involves a hearing in front of a Judge. The Judge will make a temporary decision as to which parent has custody and develop temporary visitation schedules, while the divorce or custody order is finalized.

There is a legal presumption that parents should share custody of children unless there has been domestic violence, or abuse or one spouse has a history with drugs or alcohol. This means that in most cases, the result will be shared custody.

Shared custody can take many different forms, and it is best to have a family law firm by your side to guide the process. Once orders are finalized they are very hard to change, which is why it is so important that you fight to ensure that your child custody arrangement works for you and your children.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements

Our child custody lawyer in Oklahoma City can help you make sense of the different types of custody arrangements and how they work. They will also work with you to develop a parenting plan that works for you and your children, one that the court is likely to accept.

If you and your ex-spouse cannot come to an agreement amicably, then we are also prepared to fight for your rights in court.

There are two basic legal elements of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. It is important that you understand the difference when fighting a custody dispute.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where your children live. In most child support cases, parents share physical custody. The legal term for this is joint physical custody. If the children live with just one parent, then it is called sole physical custody.

The reason why parents usually share joint custody is the presumption that children have a better chance of development when they have access to both parents wherever possible.

Legal Custody

Legal Custody is the legal right to make decisions on behalf of the child, such as the child’s school, religious considerations, medical care, and more.

As with physical custody, legal custody can also be granted to one parent, called sole legal custody, or both, joint legal custody. Judges also favor joint legal custody unless there is a good reason as to why one parent should not be allowed to make decisions.

How Does 50/50 Child Custody Work in Oklahoma City, OK?

Equal custody sounds fairly simple, but in reality, it can be difficult to navigate. Life’s responsibilities can make it challenging to find a solution that works for everyone.

It is common for parents to agree on shared custody but then find that it is more practical for one parent to take most of the responsibility. It is rare for parents to get on well enough, and live close enough to keep two fully functioning homes and share time equally.

Sometimes the best option is sole custody with a clear custody visitation schedule. The custodial parent will have responsibility for the child the majority of the time, and the noncustodial parent will have visitation rights. Child visitation laws in Oklahoma, OK, mean that the minimum amount of visitation is one weeknight per week, and overnight visits every other weekend.

However, you should take extra consideration over legal custody. If keeping physical custody of your children is important to you, then make that clear from the start. If your ex-spouse is granted sole legal custody, then they could move away, or make other decisions without your input.

It is a good idea to seek legal counsel from the start from an experienced family law and Oklahoma City child custody lawyer if you are seeking sole custody or fighting against your ex-spouse seeking sole custody.

two sad kids lying on the carpet while their parents argue

What Factors Do The Court Take Into Consideration When Determining Custody?

The court is required to allocate custody based on what is in the best interests of the child. Usually, this means creating as little disruption to the child’s life as possible. The decision can involve many factors, such as:

  • The wishes of the child (depending on their age).
  • The quality of the relationship between the child and each parent.
  • The wishes of each parent.
  • The mental and physical well-being of all parties.
  • The ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs.
  • How involved each parent has been in the past i.e. making doctor’s appointments, and attending school meetings.
  • The child’s relationships and proximity to school, community, and religious institutions.
  • The child’s relationship with siblings, grandparents, and other significant people
  • Any history of abuse, and potential for future abuse.
  • Past criminal records of either parent.
  • Each party’s parenting ability.
  • Any substance abuse of either parent.
  • Each parent’s ability to spend time with the child.,
  • The willingness of each parent to accommodate and grant regular visitation.

Can You Change a Final Custody Order?

Although child custody orders are legally binding, Oklahoma courts do allow them to be modified in some circumstances. They understand that life is complicated and sometimes an agreement that made sense and worked once, no longer makes sense for your family.

It isn’t easy to change an order. Both you and your ex-spouse will need to agree, or there must have been a substantial change in circumstances.

The first step will be to file a ‘Motion to Modify Custody Order,’ after which the court will set a hearing date. At the hearing, the parent who is asking for the change will be required to prove that there is a permanent, material substantial change in circumstances and that a change is in the best interests of the child.

An experienced Oklahoma City child custody attorney can help you file a motion, and evidence why you need to change your court orders. If you are unsure whether you have grounds for a modification, then contact us today for a free initial consultation, so we can advise you on your particular case.

a gavel and child support agreement

Child Support

Child support is another volatile issue for most divorcing couples. If one parent is awarded custody, then generally the other will need to pay child support.

A family law firm specializing in family law services, such as Cannon & Associates, can help ensure a fair and reasonable child support agreement.

a father hugging his child

Father’s Rights

Family courts in Oklahoma City have progressed a lot in terms of fathers’ rights over the last few decades, which is good news for men who are fighting for custody and increased visitation rights.

Gender is not the basis for being a good parent, and men should and do have the same rights as women to their minor children. Unless there is a reason why a parent should not be in a child’s life, children fair better when they have a close bond to both their mother and father, who should have equal access to them.

Although men and women should be treated equally in family law matters under Oklahoma law, there are many people who still have old-fashioned views. Mothers have been viewed as the primary caregivers for centuries, and men often have to fight harder to secure the same rights. Therefore it is essential that you have legal representation from a family law attorney who strongly advocates for men’s rights.

At Cannon & Associates, our Oklahoma City family law attorneys strongly believe in the positive role good dads play in their children’s lives and will fight fiercely on your behalf to protect your rights and interests.

Call us today to arrange a free consultation with an experienced father’s rights attorney in Oklahoma City. Call us now at 405-591-3935.

A Father’s Perspective

As a father, nothing is more intimidating than the prospect of not being allowed to spend time with my children. Many men assume Oklahoma family law judges are predisposed to favor mothers and women in Oklahoma divorces; however, the Oklahoma Legislature has taken steps to stop this unfair practice. The laws in Oklahoma require family law judges to take a gender-neutral approach concerning Divorce; Child Custody; Child Support; Alimony; and division of property.

As I’m sure you are aware, the simple fact a law is gender-neutral does not mean it is always applied that way. Family law judges have their own feelings, experiences, and beliefs about child custody in Oklahoma. The following are important terms to familiarize yourself with sooner rather than later when facing divorce and child custody in Oklahoma.

Establishing Paternity in Oklahoma

If you are not already the established father of your children, then the first step in the legal process will be to establish paternity. If you were married to your child’s mother when your child was born, then paternity will be automatic, and you can skip this step. If your child was born when you were not married to their mother, then you will need to establish paternity.

The simplest way to do this is for both the mother and father to voluntarily complete and sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity form. This is often filled out at the hospital where the child was born but can also be completed and mailed to the Division of Vital Records anytime before the child turns 18.

Problems With Establishing Paternity

Unfortunately, establishing paternity does not automatically grant fathers custody and visitation rights, instead, the help of a skilled Oklahoma City family law attorney is necessary. However, establishing paternity does make child support payments mandatory. It enforces financial responsibility without the benefits of the parent-child relationship.

Therefore, it is often in your best interest to seek DNA testing so that there is no doubt that you are the father. This will also be necessary if the mother refuses to acknowledge paternity or you disagree about who the father is.

Another potential issue men often face is if their child was born to a mother who did not legally dissolve a previous marriage. Some couples choose not to divorce but rather go through a legal separation, often for religious reasons. However, the husband in the legal marriage will be the presumed father until you fight for your paternity rights.

Establishing paternity can be a highly complex and emotional time. Fortunately, a father’s rights lawyer at Cannon & Associates will fight fiercely on your behalf every step of the way.

Parental Rights and Privileges

Establishing paternity is important, as otherwise, you will not have any parental rights, including:

  • The right to establish parental rights and responsibilities through the court, including child custody.
  • The right to add your child to health insurance plans.
  • The right for your child to inherit property after your death.

Parental Decision-Making Authority

Child custody is important, but deciding how your child is raised is an equally important aspect of your child’s life. Decision-making authority naturally resides with both parents; however, bad actions by one parent can result in their losing decision-making authority. The three most important aspects of parental decision-making authority concern: major medical treatment for your child; the school or schools attended by your child; and the extracurricular activities your child will or will not participate in outside of class. In addition to fighting for custody of your child, you should defend your right to maintain authority in the decision-making for the health and welfare of your child.

Your Child’s Rights and Privileges

Establishing paternity not only benefits you as the father, but it also benefits your child.

  • Access to medical coverage from either parent.
  • The right to emotional and financial support from both parents.
  • Access to future benefits such as a pension, social security, and more.

How to Begin a Child Custody Case in Oklahoma City

Child custody cases begin when either a Petition for Divorce or a Petition for Child Custody is filed with the court. Initially, the Petition will likely ask for sole custody, but this will not usually be the final order.

One parent may then request a Temporary Custody Order, which involves a hearing in front of a Judge. Or a Temporary Order may be enforced by the Judge without either parent’s request it. This places obligations on parents in regards to custody until a final decision can be made.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements

Our Oklahoma City family law attorneys will help you make sense of the types of custody arrangements and what makes sense for you. We are prepared to help you and your child’s mother come to a decision amicably using skills in mediation and negotiation. Or if necessary, we will fight fiercely for your rights in court.

There are two legal elements of any child custody case in Oklahoma they are physical custody and legal custody. It is essential that you have a basic understanding of both when facing a custody dispute.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is the legal term for where your children live. In most child custody cases, physical custody will be shared between parents, which is referred to as joint physical custody. There is a presumption that this should be shared as children benefit from having both parents in their lives. However, fathers often still have to fight for this basic right. Alternatively, if one parent has physical custody, then it is referred to as sole physical custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is the legal term for the right to make decisions on the child’s behalf, including religious considerations, the child’s education, the medical care they receive and more.

Just like physical custody, legal custody can be granted to both parents (joint legal custody), or one parent (sole legal custody).

Does the Court Favor Sole or Joint Custody Arrangements?

The court will always favor joint custody arrangements unless one parent poses a risk to the child’s wellbeing, such as a history of abuse or substance misuse. Our father’s rights lawyers have worked with numerous men who have faced false allegations from mothers fighting for sole custody. If this is the case, then it is essential you have representation from an attorney who has the skills, resources, and experience necessary to take your case to court and fight fiercely on your behalf.

Our family law attorneys have also worked with numerous men who have felt that it was necessary to fight for sole custody. If you believe that you should have sole custody, then we can help you evidence your claims and protect your rights and your children.

How Does a Joint Child Custody Arrangement Work?

Joint custody does not always mean a 50/50 split. While both parents have equal rights to their children, in reality, life’s responsibilities can make that challenging.

Often the best option is for one parent to be the primary custodian (the parent the child lives with the majority of the time), while the other follows a clear visitation schedule. The minimum amount of visitation in Oklahoma is one weeknight per week and overnight visits every other weekend.

However, if keeping your children in your life is important to you, then you need to make that clear from the beginning. If your child’s mother is granted sole legal custody, then they could move far away or make decisions without your input.

Few things are as important to us as our children. This is why it is so important that you seek experienced legal counsel as early as possible. Once a family law matter has been determined in a court of law, it is very difficult to change. Therefore, it is essential that the decisions are made with your child’s best interest at heart.

How Does the Family Court Determine Custody in Oklahoma City

A family court judge must make decisions based on what is in the child’s best interest. That often means minimizing disruptions to the child’s life. When making custody decisions, they may consider many factors, including:

  • The wishes of both parents.
  • The ability of each parent to meet the child’s ongoing needs.
  • The mental and physical health of all parties.
  • The wishes of the child (depending on their age).
  • The existing relationship between the child and each parent.
  • The willingness of each parent to accommodate visitation with the other.
  • Keeping the child’s community consistent, i.e. proximity to wider family members, religious institutions, and school.
  • Any history of abuse.
  • Each parent’s commitment and how much time they can dedicate to their child.
  • The criminal history of both parents or any history of substance misuse.
  • The previous involvement of each parent in the child’s life includes attending school meetings, arranging dentist appointments, etc.

Child Support Order

When it comes to fathers’ rights, child support is often a big legal issue. You may be concerned about how you can afford to pay it, especially if your child’s mother is pushing for a large sum.

Remember, if you are the primary custodian, then your child’s mother may be the one who owes you child support payments.

It is essential that you are treated fairly in a child support case. Both parents should financially contribute to their children, but it should always be affordable. We can help ensure a fair and reasonable agreement.

It is important to understand that child support payments do not disappear if you fail to pay them. They only build up, and they may be enforced at some point through wage garnishment or asset seizure. If you need a child support payment to be modified so that you can afford it then you should speak to a family law attorney as soon as possible. Your order may be modified, but it will not affect what you owe already, so the sooner, the better.

Can a Final Child Support or Custody Order Be Changed?

Once a child custody order has been determined, it is legally binding. That means that both parents are required to adhere to it. However, they can sometimes be modified. In order to modify an order, a motion will need to be filed with the court, and you will need to prove that there has been a material substantial change in circumstances and that a change is in the child’s best interests.

Examples could include a change in job, job loss, relocation, changing needs of the child, illness, and more. An Oklahoma City father’s rights lawyer can help you evidence your need for a modification and secure a favorable result.

Child’s Preference for Dad

Pursuant to OKLA. STAT. tit. 43 § 113, children can express their desire to live with their fathers or mothers, when they are “of a sufficient age to form an intelligent preference.” Additionally, there is a “Rebuttable presumption that a child who is twelve (12) years of age or older is of sufficient age to form an intelligent preference” on the parent they prefer to live with.

Oklahoma law requires family law judges to consider the “best interest of the child” in regard to their physical, mental, and moral welfare pursuant to OKLA. STAT. tit. 43 § 109. You can use the fact your children prefer to live with you to your advantage in child custody cases in Oklahoma.

Relationships Matter

Fathers are more than financial providers to their children. CANNON & ASSOCIATES in dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients, especially our client’s rights to child custody, child visitation, and time with their children.

  • Fathers want to be involved in their children’s lives.
  • Fathers deserve to be in their children’s lives.
  • Fathers have a right to be in their children’s lives.

Defend your Rights as a Father

All children benefit from a relationship with and love from two parents. You should not be deterred from seeking primary custody of your children, simply because you are a man and a father.  

FATHERS RIGHT’S FAQ

DO DADS HAVE RIGHTS IN OKLAHOMA?

Fathers have the same rights as mothers in Oklahoma. However, if paternity is unestablished, then the father has virtually no parental rights. They will therefore need to establish paternity through the legal process.

Do Unwed Fathers Have Rights in Oklahoma?

When a child is born, and the parents are married, paternity is presumed and automatically established. However, unwed fathers must establish paternity in order to secure fathers’ rights.

Is Oklahoma a Father State?

Oklahoma is sometimes referred to as a ‘mother state’. This is because if the couple is not married and has a child, the court will often grant the mother custody unless the father takes legal action.

How Do I Get Parental Rights in Oklahoma?

If you are not married to your child’s mother when your child is born, you will need to establish paternity. This happens when both parents sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form or if the father seeks DNA testing.

What if I Am Married, but I am not the Father?

If you are married to a woman who has a child that is not yours, then you will need to sign a Husband’s Denial of Paternity form no later than two years after the birth of the child. You may need to undergo DNA testing to prove that the child is not yours. It is important to note that if you underwent a legal separation with your ex-spouse and not a divorce, then you could still be the presumed father of her future children unless you take steps to deny your paternity.

The Oklahoma City Child Custody Lawyer That Defends Fathers’ Rights

Father’s rights ensure that both parents have equal rights to custody. Gender should never be a consideration when determining what is in the best interests of the child. The child’s father should always have equal consideration unless there is a reason not to grant them custody.

If establishing paternity is important in your case, then your attorney can help you. However, in Oklahoma, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the father. In the case of unmarried couples, there is no presumption of paternity and you are only the child’s legal father if your name is on the child’s birth certificate. This is usually done at birth when both parents sign an “Acknowledgement of Paternity” (AOP).

If you are concerned about your parental rights then seek legal representation as soon as possible.

Contact an Oklahoma City Child Custody Lawyer at Cannon & Associates Today!

When you are dealing with important family law matters such as child custody, it is important to know you have an attorney representing you who has the skills, experience, and resources necessary to do everything possible to protect your interests and those of your children.

At Cannon & Associates, we are proud to be spearheaded by John Cannon, who has an AVVO rating of 10.0, the highest possible rating based on things like years of experience, awards, and client reviews. We have handled numerous cases just like yours before, and are prepared to become your fiercest advocate.

We are also proud of our emphasis on the attorney-client relationship. We will be on hand throughout your journey to answer your questions, keep you informed, and ease your stress. We know how important your children are to you, and we will do everything possible to meet your legal needs, and protect your future.

If you are located in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman, Yukon, Mustang, The Village, Moore, or Midwest City, contact us today by calling 405-591-3935 and set up a free consultation.

Cannon & Associates

Fierce Advocates®

For Families and Freedom

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