Oklahoma Courts Are to Favor Joint Custody
Video Transcribed: My name is Brian L. Jackson here with Dads.Law, I am a father’s rights attorney in Oklahoma. And I want to talk to you today about some changes that are coming up next month in child custody preferences.
On November the 1st, there’s going to be an update to Title 43, where it is setting a preference towards joint custody in Oklahoma. That is as a policy matter, the courts are to favor joint custody. As a further step, and this is the really cool part, the courts are also required that if they deviate from joint custody, that they are to do to findings effect and conclusions of law.
In other words, what this is doing is saying, “Okay, courts, we now, as a legislature, are saying you are to prefer joint custody and if you don’t do joint custody, then you have to explain in detail, what law you’re applying and what facts apply to that law that justifies what you’re doing.”
Now what’s cool about that is, first of all, it means that, at least in theory, it should be easier to get to joint custody in an Oklahoma court. Now I can tell you, at least in Tulsa County, we’re lucky.
We have good judges here, and they tend to favor joint custody anyway when all things are equal. In other words, if you have two fit parents, you’re probably going to get joint custody of some kind.
Now, as I always tell you guys, the devil’s in the details with that, but at least, you get a reasonable chance at joint custody if all things are equal. With this policy change, though, for those of you who are out in some of the rural counties where it’s a lot more difficult to get joint custody, this could be a real boon.
Also, by forcing the court to explain itself when it denies joint custody, it gives you a better chance at appeal if you get to that point. Now, obviously, the preference is not to have to appeal. Appeals are expensive and don’t happen quickly. They take a long time. The last one I did took six months. So, it’s not something you want, but at least you have that option if you have to go there.
So this is a great new policy. And also another interesting thing is they’re doing away with the automatic presumption that it is not in a child’s best interest to be placed in the custody of someone who has been found to be involved in domestic abuse, domestic violence.
Now, this is a potentially better situation. It forces the court again to consider it on the base best interest analysis. Now, I will tell you guys, obviously, don’t hit your wives, don’t hit your girlfriends. I mean, that kind of goes without saying, but if you have a situation where you screw up one night, you lost your temper, whatever, not justifiable, but at least it’s not going to be absolutely devastating to your child custody case as it would’ve been previously. So it is easier to come back from that if you do have a bad night and screw up.
Again, the best advice I can give you, don’t get into that situation, because there’s a lot of negative consequences that can arise from doing that a negative child custody ruling is only one of them. Obviously, it comes with criminal consequences. You could wind up with a protective order that restricts your rights. It’s just not a cool situation. So, if she pisses you off, walk out the door, but at least if the boat’s already sailed, you made a mistake, the law’s about to change. It puts you in a little bit of a better position.
So there is hope to come back from that and that’s a good thing. I think the legislature is kind of coming around to the idea that, as we constantly preach on this channel, dads really are not disposable.
I think the legislature’s coming around to that idea, that both parents need to be in the child’s life, and it’s a good thing. It’s something to be happy about. And guys, if you are dealing with a child custody case of any kind, you need a good lawyer, and one place you can go to get a good lawyer is Dads.Law, where fathers are not disposable. Thank you.