Echols, Echols & Smalley Matrimonial Law
David W. Echols is a fellow in the American Academy
of Matrimonial Lawyers

M. Eileen Echols is a former
Family Law Judge
Echols & Associates
9925 S. Pennsylvania Avenue
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73159

Father Custody Rights in Oklahoma City

As most family law attorneys will tell you, a father-custody case in Oklahoma City is no less contentious or important than battles involving celebrities and children in places like New York or Los Angeles. If you are an Oklahoma City father, custody is just as important as anywhere else.

Fathers in Oklahoma City value participating in their children’s lives after divorce much more than a generation ago. Fortunately, custody rights for fathers—and the decisions by divorce courts—have evolved with them. Under Oklahoma law, several child custody arrangements can be made in the interests of children and parents:

  • Joint custody: This is the most adaptable arrangement, where mothers and fathers share legal and physical care of the children. By legal agreement, parents determine who is responsible for which aspects of their children’s care and upbringing, how much time is spent with either parent, where the children are with each parent and when, and who makes which individual or joint decisions about certain matters of the children’s upbringing.
  • Sole custody: One parent has 100 percent control over the children’s welfare, sometimes with visitation arrangements built in for the non-custodial parent. A father’s custody rights should not acquiesce to such an arrangement favoring the mother unless there is strong due cause, such as a history of addictions or abuse.
  • Split custody: In the case of two or more children, each parent is awarded custody of at least one child.
  • One home, rotating parents: Sometimes referred to as “birdnesting,” this is where the children remain in one home but the father and mother alternate living in that home on a set schedule.

Fathers win child custody more often today than in the past

How likely is it that a father will succeed in getting a fair custody ruling in a divorce? Historically, the courts favored mothers over fathers in child custody disputes.

However, the laws on paternal custody rights in Oklahoma mirror those found in almost every other state, providing equal rights to fathers and mothers.

What a family lawyer must contend with in representing either parent is a natural bias that in strictest legal terms should not exist. But the American Bar Association Family Legal Guide notes how “some judges may have a deep-seated belief that mothers can take care of children better than fathers and that fathers have little experience in parenting.” The guide also says, “conversely, some judges may believe that fathers are automatically better at raising boys—particularly older boys.” The guide goes on to say that such biases have diminished in recent years.

The burden is on either parent and his or her attorney to prove to the court their fitness to parent in the best interests of the child. With decades of experience in family practice, the law firm of Echols & Associates is well positioned to make that argument. Contact us to discuss father's custody rights as they pertain to your particular situation.

LexisNexis: Martindale-Hubbell

Echols & Associates is located in Oklahoma City, OK and serves clients in and around Wheatland, Oklahoma City, Mustang, Newcastle, Yukon, Newalla, Bethany, Harrah, Spencer, Norman, Nicoma Park, Edmond, Choctaw, Jones, Washington, Piedmont, Blanchard, Union City, Minco, Noble, Arcadia, Cleveland County, Mcclain County, Oklahoma County.

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