What are some advantages and disadvantages of getting a custody order?
There are many reasons some people choose not to get a custody order from a court. Some people decide not to get a custody order because they don't want to get the courts involved. They may have an informal agreement that works well for them or they may think going to court will provoke the other parent into seeking custody or visitation that they do not already have.
Getting a custody order can give you:
- the right to make decisions about your child; and
- the right to physical custody of your child (to have your child live with you).
One of the benefits to a custody order is that there will be a specific schedule as to who has the child at what times. However, it might give the other parent more visitation or custody rights than s/he is using now. Without a custody order, both parents (assuming paternity is established) likely have equal rights to the child. Therefore, it could be possible for the other parent to pick your child up and keep custody from you until there is a custody order that says otherwise. If you fear that the other parent would do something like this, you may decide to file for custody to try to prevent a situation like this. We strongly suggest talking to a lawyer about what is best in your situation. See OK Finding a Lawyer for free and paid legal referrals.
It is important to note that you do not need a custody order to file for child support. If you need child support, the Department of Human Services, Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) can help obtain a child support order. If necessary, the CSED could have an administrative hearing and determine paternity by order genetic testing of the mother, child and possible father. They will order that child support be paid to the parent that has present physical possession of the child even without a custody order. See the OK Department of Human Services website for more information.