When a couple with children divorce or separate, the court must determine who receives custody, but the law also protects a non-custodial parent’s right to keep in contact. In addition, there are several forms of child custody that may be appropriate, depending on the particular family circumstances. We are dedicated to working with our clients to secure for them the custody and visitation rights they need as parents for the sake of their children.
A custody order is intended to protect the best interests of the child, but there are several types of custody arrangements that may accomplish this goal while preserving each parent’s rights:
The advantage of sole or primary custody is that it provides more structure to the child’s life, since he or she lives in one place most of the time. The advantage of joint custody is that the child maintains a close relationship with both parents and it might, in some circumstances, reduce or eliminate the need for child support. Visitation arrangements can be negotiated to give non-custodial parents greater amounts of quality time with their children.
Even if you do not agree with a custody order, it is important to obey it. If you try to take a child away from the lawful custodial parent, you can be charged with a felony and face a fine of up to $5,000. The court can also punish you for violating a custody order by holding you in contempt and punishing you with up to $500 in fines or six months in county jail, or both. However, you can defend against these charges if you reasonably believed that your violation was necessary to save the child from physical, mental or emotional danger and you notified the local law enforcement agency closest to the custodial parent’s home. If you violated a custody order or believed that it was necessary to do so to protect your child, we can advise you on your best options and represent you in court if you are charged. Likewise, if your ex-spouse has violated a custody order, we can go to court to enforce it on behalf of you and your child.
Even if you are not awarded custody, the custody order will most likely permit you to visit your children. Courts favor giving children routine, structured time with each parent, absent a showing of harm. Moreover, courts would rather parents mutually agree to the visitation schedules and remain flexible about them. We have experience working out visitation schedules that protect parent-child relationships and winning court approval.
A court may modify a child custody or visitation order upon the request of one or both parents or if the court determines that the current order is not in the best interests of the child. Usually, such modifications are based on a change of circumstances that renders the original order obsolete or inadequate to achieve a just arrangement. We are skilled both at arguing for modifications and at opposing them if an unfair result is sought by the other spouse.
Long, Claypole & Blakley Law, PLC advises and represents Oklahomans in child custody and visitation matters. Please call 580-599-0191 or contact us online to make an appointment for a consultation at our Enid office.