Child custody issues arise in divorce and paternity cases. Oklahoma child custody can also arise out of guardianship or other third party parental relationships. In any litigation involving children, the question of who gets custody of the child is of paramount importance. Child custody refers to the right and authority to direct the care and upbringing of the child. This legal authority includes every decision pertaining to things such as which school will the child attend, how will the child be disciplined, method of medical care, with whom the child will associate, what religion the child will be taught and how the child will be raised.
Historical Look at Child Custody
Early in American law, prior to the 19th century, courts used a rule of paternal preference. The earliest decisions gave custody to the father as what might be a “property interest” in his children. As things progressed, the trend moved away from a preference for the father. Soon the preference shifted to the mother in matters of child custody.
Tender Year’s Doctrine
The tender years doctrine involved a presumption created in favor of granting child custody to the mother of a young child. This preference continued unless the child’s biological mother was unfit. This outmoded the rule and created a burden of proof on the part of the father, whereby if the father did not prove that the mother was in fact unfit, custody of the young children would be awarded to the mother.
Modern View of Child Custody
The vast majority of American jurisdictions, including Oklahoma, have done away with the Tender Year’s Doctrine. Rather the presumption of the courts is that both biological parents are equally capable of caring for the child. Thus, no gender based bias for custody exists.
Primary Care Giver Doctrine
This is a presumptive doctrine which places a judicial preference for child custody on the parent who up until the divorce proceeding was the child’s primary care giver. Several factors are considered to determine which parent is to be the child’s primary care giver. These factors can include: which parent (1) put the children to bed, (2) groomed the children, (3) made medical decisions, and (4) acted to teach the children basic life coping skills. Although the Primary Care Giver Doctrine and presumption are not authoritative in Oklahoma, these factors are highly probative of what is in the Best Interest of the children.
Best Interest of the Child
This is the prevailing school of thought found in Oklahoma child custody cases and most Jurisdictions in the United States today. The Best Interest Doctrine no longer looks at gender or marital preference. Rather the court determines what is in the best interest of the Child and assigns custody from there. Some issues are that it’s a rather complex concept and is difficult to define. Among other factors, the Best Interest approach looks to maintaining the status quo in the parent child relationship. It also attempts to keep both parents involved to at least some degree in the children’s lives. Additionally the Best Interest will look to which parent is better in terms of maturity and ability to care for the child in an environment which is conducive to the child’s long term development.
Joint Legal Custody
Joint custody in Oklahoma is sharing legal custody of the children. The basic concept envisions a parenting arrangement in which both parents share legal responsibility for child-rearing. This responsibility can limit or extend to day to day decision making for the child. Joint custodial custody involves the highest level of cooperation between the parents, and will be less likely to be upheld in those situations where the parents cannot cooperate in matters concerning child-rearing.
Tulsa Child Custody Lawyers Near You
Child custody cases in Oklahoma come in all sorts of types. Our family lawyers handle custody cases arising out of divorce, paternity and guardianship cases in the State. Child custody and family law itself are issues that decided by the Judges using equitable principles. This means that all the circumstances surrounding your child and whats considered to be fair and equitable is how family law cases are decided. Call us today and get a Free Consultation with one of our family law attorneys 918-743-2233