When a couple divorces in Oklahoma and cannot agree on custody of minor children, the court will make a custody determination. Without a legal custody order, both parents have an equal right to physical custody.
Learn more about the factors the state uses to decide legal custody, the right to make decisions on the child’s behalf, and physical custody, which describes where the child actually lives.
The best interests standard
Like most states, Oklahoma strives to make a custody order that serves the child’s best interests and supports his or her physical and mental well-being. The family court judge will consider:
- The parents’ wishes
- The child’s wishes, depending on his or her age and maturity level
- The existing relationship between the child and parents
- The mental and physical health of both the child and the parents
- The child’s connection with his or her extended family, school and community
- Any history of domestic abuse, substance abuse or criminal actions
- Each parent’s involvement in the child’s medical care, schooling and daily care
- Each parent’s ability to financially support the child and provide a safe, stable home
Common visitation schedules
The court will order either joint or sole physical and legal custody. In the absence of safety concerns, when one parent has sole physical custody the other will receive visitation. This includes weekend visitation, which typically extends from Friday to Sunday or Monday; holiday visitation, which determines where the child will spend each holiday; and summer visitation, which provides for extended visitation for one or more periods during school break.
Oklahoma also recognizes birdnesting, which is a form of shared custody. With this arrangement, the children stay in one home and the parents rotate through the home on a schedule.
The state requires parents to attend a seminar on helping children cope with divorce. This session may help ex-spouses come to a parenting agreement.