Get An Experienced Oklahoma and Arkansas Child Custody Lawyer On Your Side
Often, the anger, bitterness, and enmity that arise during these proceedings are rooted in fear of the unknown: Fear that you could lose time with your child, the authority to make decisions about their upbringing, or even physical custody itself — and that your relationship with them will suffer as a result.
You may also be concerned about the support you’ll pay or receive or protecting your child from unsafe environments or abuse.
At Bundy Law, our lawyers understand what’s at stake, and we’re here to help in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Bentonville, AR.
Our team of extensively trained and highly skilled family law lawyers has aided countless clients in crafting the proper child custody and support agreements for them and their children or helped them achieve their goals in the Oklahoma courtroom.
We can do the same for you if you’re facing a contentious child custody or support legal battle.
Going through a child custody dispute? Contact Bundy Law to speak to our Tulsa child custody attorneys today.
Decisions Made with Your Child’s Best Interests In Mind
Oklahoma law requires that all child custody decisions be made in the children’s best interests at the center of the dispute.
Though the judge sometimes makes exceptions if a child’s safety is at risk, generally, this means frequent and continuing contact with both parents after a separation or divorce and shared parental rights and responsibilities.
How these rights and responsibilities are divided can vary. For example, suppose you and your co-parent can table tensions and work together to agree on these matters.
In that case, the Oklahoma or Arkansas court will likely approve it — if it concurs that the decisions made appear to be in your child’s best interests.
Otherwise, the judge will step in to decide these essential matters for you — and its idea of what’s best for your child may differ significantly from your own.
Our family law lawyers can help you negotiate a fair agreement or fight for your rights at trial.
What Determines What Is In Your Child Best Interest?
The concept of the child’s best interests is complex, and its content must be determined on a case-by-case basis. The phrase “best interests” is not entirely defined by Oklahoma Statutes, but there are guidelines for attorneys and judges.
Best interest factors have been identified by Oklahoma’s appellate courts, including:
- The desires of the child
- The emotional and physical need of the child now and in the future
- The emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future
- The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody
- The programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child
- The plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody
- The stability of the home or proposed placement
- The acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one
- Any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent
When a judge makes a custody decision, the judge must consider which parent is more likely to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent.
In other words, if a parent behaves in a way that discourages the relationship between the children and the other parent, such as speaking poorly about the other parent, denying visitation, or making false allegations in court about the other parent, the judge can take that behavior into consideration and award custody to the other parent.
Assuming all other things are equal, a parent who can demonstrate encouragement of the relationship between the child and the other parent, including facilitating visitation, agreeing to reschedule visitation when necessary, and sharing child-related information with the other parent, will be a better candidate for custody than a parent who discourages the relationship between the children and the other parent.
At What Age Can A Child Choose Which Parent To Live With?
The judge may consider the preference of a child concerning custody and visitation, especially if the child is 12 years of age or older. The child’s preference is not necessarily binding on the court.
Joint and sole custody determinations are made on a case-by-case basis based on the particular and unique facts of each case.
A parent is presumed unfit to have custody if the parent is or has been:
- A sex offender
- Substance abuse dependent to the extent that the parent is a danger to himself or herself or another person as a result of the substance abuse dependency
- Convicted of domestic abuse within the past 5 years
- Living with anyone who is a sex offender or who has been convicted of domestic abuse within the past 5 years
Suppose the family judge finds a parent engaged in domestic abuse, stalking, or harassment.
In that case, that parent may not have custody or unsupervised visitation.
These factors are the same factors for protective orders.
A protective order involving only one parent and a non-parent entered by a different family judge in another Oklahoma court can drastically impact a custody case between two parents.
Custody and visitation cases are fact-sensitive. Best interest determinations involve consideration of the needs of each child and the parenting capacities of each parent.
Judges have broad discretion to make decisions about children.
A parent in a custody or visitation case should focus on child-centered facts to help the judge make the right decision.
Independent, objective evidence, such as photographs, records, grades, and written communication, can bolster a parent’s case for custody.
Types Of Child Custody In Oklahoma and Arkansas
Child custody agreements and court orders determine more than just where your child will stay and when — they also dictate who has the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf.
Joint custody arrangements, in which both parents share varying legal (decision-making) custody, are standard in Tulsa, Oklahoma & Bentonville, AR.
However, in high-conflict cases where communication between parents is poor or one of the parents displays poor judgment, the court may decide it’s appropriate to award the other parent sole custody.
Even when one parent has sole custody, the non-custodial parent may be granted supervised or unsupervised visitation rights and have access to child-related academic and medical records.
Is Oklahoma a 50/50 Custody State?
Yes, Oklahoma is a 50/50 custody state. The courts usually order that a child spend equal time with each parent. However, the court will always consider the child’s best interests when deciding custody. Sometimes, a 50/50 custody arrangement may not be in the child’s best interests.
Is Arkansas a 50/50 Custody State?
Yes, Arkansas is a 50/50 custody state. The default rule is for courts to order that a child spend equal time with each parent. However, the court will always consider the child’s best interests when deciding custody. Sometimes, a 50/50 custody arrangement may not be in the child’s best interests.
Creating A Parenting Plan That Works For You And Your Child
At Bundy Law, we understand that navigating child custody matters can be emotionally challenging for parents. Our goal is to help you create a parenting plan that prioritizes your child’s best interests while also taking into account your unique family dynamics.
When developing a parenting plan, we consider factors such as:
- The age and developmental needs of your child
- The ability of each parent to provide a stable and nurturing environment
- The existing relationship between the child and each parent
- The geographical proximity of each parent’s residence
- The willingness of each parent to cooperate and communicate effectively
Our experienced Tulsa child custody lawyer will guide you through the process of creating a comprehensive parenting plan that covers important aspects such as:
- Physical custody arrangements
- Visitation schedules
- Decision-making authority
- Communication guidelines
- Transportation arrangements
- Methods for resolving disputes
By working closely with you, our team will ensure that your parenting plan is tailored to your specific needs and provides a framework for a healthy co-parenting relationship.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward creating a parenting plan that works for you and your child.
Types Of Child Custody And Support Matters That Our Lawyers Resolve
We help clients resolve a wide variety of issues related to child custody and support, including those involving:
- Parental rights and responsibilities
- Paternity cases and related legal issues
- Child abuse and emergencies
- Protective orders for victims of domestic violence
- Interstate or international moves or parental abductions
- Same-sex custody and visitation
- Child support and custody appeals
- Guardianships of minor children
Skillful, Effective Representation For Child Custody And Support Cases
Child custody and support conflicts can be difficult for parents and children alike — fortunately, we can help.
In addition to providing the attentive, personalized, and results-focused representation needed to successfully resolve your custody and child support issues, we can also direct you to high-quality, third-party resources like child counselors and psychologists, and then work with those professionals to craft a cohesive plan that meets your needs, as well as the court’s standards in Tulsa, Oklahoma & Bentonville, AR. Call 918-771-7045 or send an email inquiry to request a consultation.