Oklahoma Custody and Visitation Schedules
Your child custody and visitation schedule is important to you and to your child. Here's how to set up an Oklahoma visitation schedule.
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
The laws pertaining to child custody and visitation in the State of Oklahoma can be found in the Oklahoma Statutes, Title 43, Marriage and Family.
While the Oklahoma Statutes does not provide a specific outline or formula for creating a child visitation schedule, it does provide insight as to how the court determines custody and visitation of a child.
It also defines some of the terms (and different types of custody) used in court and in court documents, and states the authority of the court as to making rulings and decisions in child guardianship, custody, and visitation cases.
The law can be a valuable tool to be used and referred to when making your schedule.
There are four types of custody in the State of Oklahoma:
- Joint custody means both parents share the legal and physical custody of the child(ren), though it does not necessarily mean the parents must divide the time with the child equally. The parents are equally responsible for making legal decisions involving the child and share parenting time with the child in a manner that allows both parents to be a significant part of the child's life.
- Sole custody means one parent is primarily responsible for the care and custody of the child. The other parent may be entitled to reasonable visitation/parenting time.
- Split custody means a parent of multiple children will have custody of some of the children while the other parent has custody of the other(s). The children still have parenting time with both parents, but may primarily reside with different parents. (An example of this would be very young children being in the custody of one parent, while the older children opt to stay with the other).
- Bird-nesting is a rarely awarded, but still possible, custody arrangement where the child or children live in one home, and the parents take turns living in the house at different times. If parents are able to feasibly exercise this type of custody, it provides the child(ren) a more stable, secure environment, as they are not being shuttled back and forth between homes. However, due to the expense and privacy issues, not many parents are able or willing to do this type of custody arrangement.
Joint custody/shared parenting is preferred and encouraged by the court, so long as there is not a situation, such as abuse, that would warrant otherwise (43 O.S.A. Sec. 110.1).
Before you begin creating your child visitation schedule, it is important to understand that it is the policy of the State of Oklahoma to assure that minor children have frequent, on-going, continuing contact with both parents. If you are trying to get a different kind of custody, you will need to present clear and convincing reasons for it to the court.
Sometimes there are situations where joint custody would not be in the child's best interests, such as when a parent is abusive or neglectful, or has a substance abuse or other problem that would have a serious effect on the well-being of the child.
In that case, sole custody is given to the non-offending parent and the non-custodial parent may or may not be granted visitation rights. Supervised visitation is sometimes awarded to such parents.
Occasionally, there is absolutely no evidence of abuse or any form of parental wrong-doing, but the parents are so volatile that they are unable to work together in any capacity.
The court has the ability to order parents to attend mediation (43 O.S.A. Sec. 107.3) or private counseling, but in "high conflict" cases, even those options may fail, necessitating the need for the court to make a ruling at it's discretion.
The court considers all of the relevant factors and bases decisions on what is best for the child.
One of the main factors the court considers when determining the best interests of a child is the parents' willingness and ability to help foster a loving relationship between the child and other parent and to comply with the court order.
If you submit a child custody and visitation schedule that was created fairly and allows your child ample time with the other parent, this will be viewed favorably by the court and the court may consider and even accept the proposed plan.
A child visitation schedule in the State of Ohio should include:
- A residential schedule that specifies where the child will live and spend time with each parent on a regular, on-going basis. Evaluating the schedules and availability of each parent is a great place to start when creating the residential schedule. It should provide the child with an optimal amount of time with each parent, and your schedule may be as unique as your child is.
- A holiday schedule to allow the child an opportunity to have an equitable amount of time with both parents, on holidays. The holiday schedule overrules the regular, residential schedule. A common practice of sharing holidays is that the parents take turns having the child on the holidays, alternating them each year.
- A vacation schedule or provisions for vacation times, (allotting each parent a certain amount of days for vacation, provided they supply the other parent with a specified amount of advanced notice), so that the child may spend extended amounts of time with each parent for school vacations and the parents' personal vacation times.
Section 111 of Title 43 has a standard visitation schedule and some advisory guidelines to consider as you set up a custody and visitation schedule. Part of the requirements for your visitation schedule is a minimum amount of visitation for the non-custodial parent.
Your custody and visitation schedule should also address the following:
- Differing geographical residences of the custodian and non-custodian
- Notice requirements and authorized reasons for canceling visitation
- Transportation and transportation costs, including the pick-up and return of the child from visitation
- Religious, school, and extracurricular activities
- Grandparent and relative contact
- The birthday of the child
- Sibling custody and visitation schedules
- Special circumstances and emergencies
Including all of this information in your schedule will help you have a very thorough schedule that will work for your situation. Oklahoma law also allows you to include any additional provisions or stipulations to your schedule as you see fit.
Some of the advisory guidelines from Section 111 that you need to consider for your custody schedule are:
- It is preferred if parents can mutually agree on the schedule instead of having a court-imposed schedule
- A custody schedule should maximize the continuity and stability of the life of the child
- Special considerations should be given by each parent to make the child available for family functions (like funerals, weddings, reunions, etc.) when the functions inadvertently conflict with the schedule
- The custody and visitation schedule should not disrupt the regular school hours of the child
- The schedule should reasonably accommodate the work schedules of both parents
- The schedule should accommodate the distance between the parents and the expense of visitation
- Each parent should permit and encourage liberal electronic contact between the child and each parent and uncensored mail privileges
- Each parent is entitled to an equal division of major religious holidays, and a parent who celebrates a religious holiday that the other parent does not celebrate should have the child on that holiday
Following these guidelines as you include all of the requirements for your custody and visitation schedule will allow you to make a schedule that the court will endorse.
The top fifteen cities in Oklahoma (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, Broken Arrow, Lawton, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore, Stillwater, Enid, Muskogee, Bartlesville, Shawnee, Owasso, Ardmore.