Oklahoma City Child Custody Lawyers Uphold Parental Rights
Determined representation focuses on the best interests of your children
When you’re a parent, there’s nothing more important than your relationship with your children. If an impending divorce or a post-divorce conflict is threatening to disrupt that relationship, you deserve highly professional and determined legal representation focused on delivering positive results. At Zuhdi & Flynn, PLLC in Oklahoma City, our family law attorneys draw on more than 30 years of combined legal experience to provide sound advice and trustworthy guidance. Often, we are able to negotiate child custody arrangements that uphold your parental rights and serve your children’s needs. But when a trial is necessary to assert your rights or protect your kids, you can trust us to fight aggressively for a favorable outcome.
Common child custody arrangements in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, there are three basic forms of child custody that courts consider during a divorce proceeding:
- Sole custody — Here, the court awards custody to one parent, who provides a residence for the child and makes all decisions for the child’s welfare. When the court awards sole custody to one parent, the other parent generally has visitation, or parenting time, on a regular basis. However, if contact with that parent might be harmful to the child, the court can place restrictions on visits or prohibit contact altogether.
- Joint physical custody — Courts currently favor joint custody unless there are strong indications that it would not be in the child’s best interests. This is often a 50-50 arrangement where the children spend equal time with each parent. However, parenting plans can be flexible, fixing the child’s primary residence with one parent and affording the other frequent visitation.
- Joint legal custody — Under this arrangement, the parents have equal decision-making authority on such issues as the child’s education, religious indoctrination, health care and extracurricular activities. While the day-to-day management of these affairs generally falls to the parent with primary physical custody, major decisions require both parents’ assent.
It is generally best for parents to negotiate a parenting plan that they present to the court for approval. This gives them greater control over scheduling and avoids the risk of an adverse judgment. However, if one parent is unreasonable or poses a threat to the children, the other must fight aggressively for a just outcome. If a custody battle goes to trial, the court can consider the preferences of a child who is mature enough to form a reasonable opinion.
Enforcement and modification of child custody in Oklahoma
If, after your divorce is finalized, a custody dispute arises, you have two options: enforcement or modification. In an enforcement action, you go back to court and ask the judge to compel the other parent to follow the court-approved parenting plan. This is appropriate if the other parent has been interfering with your custody or visitation rights. Usually, the threat of being held in contempt of court is enough to straighten out the bad behavior. In extreme cases, the court can issue a new custody order, awarding sole custody to the parent whose rights were being denied.
Modifying a child custody order is difficult because you must show “a permanent, substantial and material change of conditions” and that a modification would be in the best interests of the child. (There is a similar standard for modifying child support.) An experienced attorney can help you present your request for a modification in the best light or help you defend against a motion for a modification you feel would disadvantage your child.
Contact an effective Oklahoma child custody lawyer for a free consultation
Zuhdi & Flynn, PLLC represents Oklahoma parents in child custody disputes during and after divorce. Please call 405-416-2711 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation at our Oklahoma City office.