Some parents have to negotiate shared custody arrangements as part of their divorce proceedings. There are also plenty of Oklahoma parents who never get married and who then need to discuss sharing parenting time and other parental responsibilities when they decide to separate from one another.
Oklahoma state law tries to make the focus in such cases what would be best for the children. Judges want to minimize the disruption and damage caused by the shift in household circumstances. Frequently, they will try to give both parents as much time with the children and say in their upbringing as is reasonable given the circumstances.
Although 50/50 custody isn’t always the best solution, shared custody is often the preferred outcome. When is it possible to deviate from shared custody expectations and obtain sole custody of the children?
Through mutual agreement
Perhaps the most common reason that parents arrive at sole custody arrangements is through direct negotiation.
If one parent has a strained relationship with the children or if they have a very demanding career, they may agree to the suggestion that the other parent will have sole custody and they will only have visitation. While they will likely have to provide child support until the children are old enough to be independent, this arrangement may make the most sense for everyone in the family.
Through custody litigation
Often, when one parent wants sole custody of the children, the other does not agree. People may feel like their ex wants to use the children as a way to punish them or manipulate the family court system for financial reasons.
If one parent asks for sole custody, they will typically need not just a reason but also evidence to substantiate their claim that sole custody would be what is best for the children. Reasons for a judge to consider such requests include:
- spousal abuse
- child abuse
- child neglect
- drug addiction
- personal instability (no vehicle, housing, etc)
- extreme physical or mental health issues
In a scenario where both parents want time with the children, a judge will only grant sole custody to one parent if they agree that it would be in the best interests of the children. Evidence ranging from police reports and medical records to financial records could help establish a history of problematic behavior that might endanger the children.
Without such evidence, requests for sole custody are unlikely to succeed and could even affect how the judge views the parent making the request. Learning more about the Oklahoma approach to child custody matters can help parents prepare for negotiations or a hearing in family court.