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Legal Statutes: Oklahoma

UPDATED May 25, 2017

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Divorce and Alimony

back to top§ 109. Awarding custody or appointing guardian--Joint custody--Domestic violence, stalking, or harassment--Court considerations

A. In awarding the custody of a minor unmarried child or in appointing a general guardian for said child, the court shall consider what appears to be in the best interests of the physical and mental and moral welfare of the child.

B. The court, pursuant to the provisions of subsection A of this section, may grant the care, custody, and control of a child to either parent or to the parents jointly.

For the purposes of this section, the terms joint custody and joint care, custody, and control mean the sharing by parents in all or some of the aspects of physical and legal care, custody, and control of their children.

C. If either or both parents have requested joint custody, said parents shall file with the court their plans for the exercise of joint care, custody, and control of their child. The parents of the child may submit a plan jointly, or either parent or both parents may submit separate plans. Any plan shall include but is not limited to provisions detailing the physical living arrangements for the child, child support obligations, medical and dental care for the child, school placement, and visitation rights. A plan shall be accompanied by an affidavit signed by each parent stating that said parent agrees to the plan and will abide by its terms. The plan and affidavit shall be filed with the petition for a divorce or legal separation or after said petition is filed.

D. The court shall issue a final plan for the exercise of joint care, custody, and control of the child or children, based upon the plan submitted by the parents, separate or jointly, with appropriate changes deemed by the court to be in the best interests of the child. The court also may reject a request for joint custody and proceed as if the request for joint custody had not been made.

E. The parents having joint custody of the child may modify the terms of the plan for joint care, custody, and control. The modification to the plan shall be filed with the court and included with the plan. If the court determines the modifications are in the best interests of the child, the court shall approve the modifications.

F. The court also may modify the terms of the plan for joint care, custody, and control upon the request of one parent. The court shall not modify the plan unless the modifications are in the best interests of the child.

G. 1. The court may terminate a joint custody decree upon the request of one or both of the parents or whenever the court determines said decree is not in the best interests of the child.

2. Upon termination of a joint custody decree, the court shall proceed and issue a modified decree for the care, custody, and control of the child as if no such joint custody decree had been made.

H. In the event of a dispute between the parents having joint custody of a child as to the interpretation of a provision of said plan, the court may appoint an arbitrator to resolve said dispute. The arbitrator shall be a disinterested person knowledgeable in domestic relations law and family counseling. The determination of the arbitrator shall be final and binding on the parties to the proceedings until further order of the court.

If a parent refuses to consent to arbitration, the court may terminate the joint custody decree.

I. 1. In every proceeding in which there is a dispute as to the custody of a minor child, a determination by the court that domestic violence, stalking, or harassment has occurred raises a rebuttable presumption that sole custody, joint legal or physical custody, or any shared parenting plan with the perpetrator of domestic violence, harassing or stalking behavior is detrimental and not in the best interest of the child, and it is in the best interest of the child to reside with the parent who is not a perpetrator of domestic violence, harassing or stalking behavior.

2. For the purposes of this subsection:

a. “domestic violence” means the threat of the infliction of physical injury, any act of physical harm or the creation of a reasonable fear thereof, or the intentional infliction of emotional distress by a parent or a present or former member of the household of the child, against the child or another member of the household, including coercive control by a parent involving physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, economic or financial abuse,

b. “stalking” means the willful course of conduct by a parent who repeatedly follows or harasses another person as defined in Section 1173 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes, and

c. “harassment” means a knowing and willful course or pattern of conduct by a parent directed at another parent which seriously alarms or is a nuisance to the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose including, but not limited to, harassing or obscene telephone calls or conduct that would cause a reasonable person to have a fear of death or bodily injury.

3. If a parent is absent or relocates as a result of an act of domestic violence by the other parent, the absence or relocation shall not be a factor that weighs against the parent in determining custody or visitation.

4. The court shall consider, as a primary factor, the safety and well-being of the child and of the parent who is the victim of domestic violence or stalking behavior, in addition to other facts regarding the best interest of the child.

5. The court shall consider the history of the parent causing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, verbal threats, stalking, or harassing behavior, or the fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault to another person, including the minor child, in determining issues regarding custody and visitation.
Laws 1983, c. 269, § 3, operative July 1, 1983. Renumbered from Title 12, § 1275.4 by Laws 1989, c. 333, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1989; Laws 2009, c. 307, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 2009.