There are two answers to this question.
No, a protective order cannot be used to obtain child custody.
The protective order statute includes the following:
A protective order issued under the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act shall not in any manner affect title to real property, purport to grant to the parties a divorce or otherwise purport to determine the issues between the parties as to child custody, visitation or visitation schedules, child support or division of property or any other like relief obtainable pursuant to Title 43 of the Oklahoma Statutes, except child visitation orders may be temporarily suspended or modified to protect from threats of abuse or physical violence by the defendant or a threat to violate a custody order. Orders not affecting title may be entered for good cause found to protect an animal owned by either of the parties or any child living in the household.
In a case called Murlin v. Pearman, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that a protective order was frivolous when it was filed to gain an advantage in a child custody case.
So the law is clear: a protective order cannot be used for child custody. Child custody cases are separate legal matters that are filed in family court.
Yes, protective orders are used every day to obtain child custody.
Every day in Oklahoma, people who are separating or breaking up file protective orders to gain leverage in their divorce or child custody case. Judges routinely award protective orders that include and cover minor children, meaning that the minor child is removed from the other parent, even when the other parent has a valid court order for custody. Parents use protective orders to obtain emergency, ex parte orders based on false or exaggerated statements even when they know that what they claim would be insufficient to obtain emergency custody of the child. Judges allow this to happen and refuse to find that it is frivolous conduct even though the Oklahoma Supreme Court said that doing so is frivolous.
If a protective order has been filed against you simply to obtain an advantage in a divorce or child custody case, you will need the assistance of an attorney to review the allegations and advise you concerning your options.