It is the policy of this state to assure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interests of their children and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, provided that the parents agree to cooperate and that domestic violence, stalking, or harassing behaviors as defined in Section 109 of this title are not present in the parental relationship. To effectuate this policy, if requested by a parent, the court may provide substantially equal access to the minor children to both parents at a temporary order hearing, unless the court finds that shared parenting would be detrimental to the child. 43 O.S. 110.1
An initial Petition for Paternity or Petition for Divorce or Separation often asks for Sole Custody. That request does not mean, in and of itself, that the final award at the end of the case will be Sole Custody. The first step in the process of establishing custody in Oklahoma County District Court, is to request a Temporary Order. The TO hearing is your first hearing in front of a Judge. At that time, the Judge will make a temporary determination of which parent should have custody and enter a temporary visitation schedule. In a Divorce, there is a legal presumption, quoted above, that the parents should share the child(ren) in equal amounts of time. This presumption does not apply if Domestic Violence is present.
What does it mean to have Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody? Many people are not informed about the actual legal definition of Sole vs. Joint Custody. Those terms do not mean how much time you will spend with your child(ren). For example, Joint Custody does not mean equal time. Visitation time spent with the child(ren) can be equal, regardless of the parental designation of Sole or Joint Custodian.
Sole Custody means that parent makes the decisions about the child, without being required to consult the other parent about what school the child goes to, activities for the child, or what daycare the child attends, for example.
Joint Custody means that both parents make the decisions about your child(ren) together. With Joint Custody, one parent can be designated as the primary decision maker in the event of a dispute.