Is It Possible To Get Custody Of Stepchildren in an Oklahoma Custody Case?

Custody of stepchildren

In Oklahoma custody of stepchildren after a divorce or paternity case is complicated. When a marriage ends in divorce, one of the central questions to resolve is the custody of children and this sometimes includes custody of stepchildren. Divorce is often hardest on children in the relationship, who may not understand the situation and its reasons, which can lead to depression, anxiety, academic struggles, and other negative results. The state has co-parenting classes to teach parents to keep control of their emotions and help to not impact the children negatively in a divorce.

Custody and Visitation

Many questions arise in a divorce that involves children, such as who will be responsible for the care and raising of children that had been the responsibility of both parents when they were married? This question becomes especially important to a stepparent, who is not the biological parent of children that they may have become very close to during the time of the marriage and whom the stepparent might have begun to think of as their children, even while knowing the children are not their own. A crucial question that many people want to know is whether they can get custody of stepchildren in a divorce. Unfortunately, Oklahoma law says that a stepparent cannot get custody of the other partner’s children in a divorce.

Stepparent Visitation By Agreement

Since the law won’t allow a stepparent to get a ruling from the court letting them have shared custody of the other partner’s children when the divorce is finalized, stepparents may want to consider other options to stay involved in the children’s lives after the seperation. One possibility is to reach an agreement at meadiation with your ex-spouse to continue to have some visitation opportunities with the children. While it isn’t something that will be made official by court order because of the law that gives natural parents the right to keep full custody of their children, people who can maintain a healthy and understanding relationship with their former spouse (and the stepchildren’s other parent, if involved in the children’s lives) might be able to reach an agreement with the stepchildren’s parent to allow time for the former stepparent to visit and stay involved in the children’s life. 

The agreement isn’t a formal, court-ordered arrangement, though, so it will depend on a good relationship with the ex-spouse, who can end the agreement at any time. The other parent might refuse to recognize the agreement, as well, meaning that any visitation time the former stepparent has with the kids would need to be during the time that the custodial ex-spouse has with the children under the court’s custody arrangement.

Stepparent Adoption

Oklahoma law allows for a stepparent to adopt stepchildren, but some conditions may interfere with plans for this arrangement. To be allowed to adopt stepchildren without the consent of one of the parents, it is necessary that the parent is not involved in the children’s lives at all, in any way, for 12 of the preceding 14 months before the adoption. The child’s other parent has to be uninvolved in the stepchildren’s lives, not providing any financial support, not seeking any visitation, and not contacting or sending notes or birthday cards to the child, for an adoption to be approved without that parent’s consent. 

If the adoption is to happen before the divorce, the law requires that the people were married for more than a year. Both the stepparent and the natural parent must consent and be present through the adoption process. Children over 12 must sign an adoption consent form when the judge approves the stepparent adoption. At that point, the stepparent becomes the children’s adoptive parent and has parental rights to custody after a divorce or paternity case.

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Legal Assistance With Custody Issues

When you have questions about custody of a stepchildren or Estate planning for stepchildren, you need skilled legal guidance. The experienced Tulsa attorneys at Kania Law Office understand what is required to get the best result in your legal matter. Call 918-743-2233 or contact us online for more information and to schedule a consultation.

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