Your Attorney Should Know Temperament of the Judge
Video Transcribed: Hello, my name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a father’s rights attorney in Tulsa, I’d like to talk to you guys about standard visitation offers when you’re negotiating a custody settlement. Should you take these, should you not take these?
I’m going to preface this by saying that this is a question that really needs to be taken up with an attorney on your specific facts. However, there are some general baseline rules we can talk about and some things to be aware of before you agree to something.
Oklahoma does have outlined a number of minimal visitation schedules that are supposed to be advisory to courts and it’s particularly in the rural counties that courts do go by these. And if you go with a default visitation if you want to imagine a default visitation schedule, this kind of represents that.
So the reason I mention this is if you are negotiating child custody with an opposing party, and this is their best offer, then I would say you want to talk long and hard with your lawyer about whether or not this is a good idea. And the reason is, is the lawyer is going to know the temperament of the judge, obviously, and what they’re likely to do in a worst-case scenario in your case.
Now, I say in your case, because these schedules typically are the bottom line of where a court will land if you’re not dealing with a situation where you have some kind of severe allegations that have been proven, that would give rise to an inference of unfitness.
I mean, if you’re talking about a situation where there’s child abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, anything like that, serious felonies, substance abuse, then the floor will probably become supervised visitation of some kind. If you’re not dealing with that, then you are likely, although it’s not guaranteed, you are likely to be looking at these standard minimal visitation arrangements.
What are they? Well, it’s things like alternating weekends, split holidays, three to six months or three to six weeks, excuse me, over the summer, that kind of an arrangement where the majority of the time is with the other parent and this is the schedule you get.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you don’t ever take an offer like that, but I would be cautious about taking an offer like that because it’s quite possible you could go into court and get something better, especially if you’re asking for joint custody and she’s asking for sole custody, and there’s no evidence of serious unfitness and we’re just arguing a straight best interest analysis.
A lot of judges, particularly in Tulsa County, but a lot of judges can be persuaded with the idea of the look, the child deserves to have both parents in his or her life, so it’s not fair to the child, nevermind the non-custodial parent, it’s not fair to the child to deprive them of a fit parent for most of the time. And if you go in and present that argument and say, “I’m not asking you to take the children away from their mother, I’m asking for equal time,” that is attainable.
So what the bottom line is, obviously you want to confer with an attorney on your specific facts, and this is not meant to be hard legal advice, as far as don’t ever take that kind of an offer. It’s more or less what I’m saying is don’t reflexively take that kind of an order, and don’t let somebody twist your arm into taking that kind of an offer without getting advice first and without very careful discussing what’s likely to happen if you take it up with the judge. Because if that’s what’s on offer, you may very well not be gambling a whole lot by going to a hearing, going to a trial, to try and get something better, like joint custody.
So, be careful before you take an offer like that. And if you are dealing with a situation where you have that kind of an offer on the table, and you have a question about it, you should go to dads.law.