Childhood development relies heavily on the significant roles played by mothers and fathers. In many cases, children who grow up without one of their parents are more likely to show mental, physical, or emotional vulnerability than those who grow up with both parents in their lives. In Oklahoma divorce cases, fathers have equal rights to mothers but often get cheated out of the opportunity to contribute to their children’s development and growth. Any father facing divorce in Oklahoma must understand their rights and how those rights may impact their case.

Fathers play a Crucial Role in Childhood Development

The Supreme Court has used M. Roman & W. Haddad’s “The Disposable Parent: The Case for Joint Custody” in decisions related to the role of fathers in their children’s lives, as it explains how children may not seem to be in great pain over the absence of their father, but they feel abandoned, which in turn leaves then feeling guilty and devalued.

The book explains that typically, children who experienced the most favorable development after their parents divorced were those who were allowed to enjoy full and loving relationships with each parent. For this reason, children who can see their fathers often and for significant lengths of time usually adjust well to the situation. In fact, studies frequently show that a father’s love has a great deal of influence on children and adolescents’ cognitive, emotional, and social functioning and development.

Many psychologists believe that paternal rejection or acceptance is a significant factor in both children’s psychological health and well-being and various types of behavioral and psychological issues. This may include:

  • Mental disorders such as borderline personality disorder, depressed affect, and depression
  • Academic and cognitive difficulties
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Conduct problems such as delinquency and externalizing behaviors
  • Aggression
  • Emotional and social withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional instability
  • Negative self-esteem
  • Negative self-concept

The effect of a father’s rejection or acceptance of their children may affect their development at any age, from birth through the time they become young adults.

What Rights Are Guaranteed to Fathers Under Oklahoma Legislation?

When a couple is going through a divorce in the state of Oklahoma, fathers technically have the same rights as mothers but are unfortunately placed at a disadvantage in many cases due to the logistics of family dynamics. Mothers, for instance, are often the primary caretaker of the children while the couple is married, which places them in an advantageous position during divorce and child custody proceedings.

In cases where paternity is in question, fathers are not granted any rights to their children until paternity is proven. This makes fathers’ rights hard to enforce without a court order. If a father wants to be active in the development, choices, and growth of their children, they must be vigilant in pursuing their goal. The first step is to establish their paternity and get the courts to grant them an order to assert their rights. Once they have proven their paternity, the other details of the divorce, such as custody, visitation rights, and child support, can be taken before the judge. According to Oklahoma child custody policy regarding father’s rights, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Parents should share in the responsibility of caring for the welfare of their children after they divorce or separate
  • Minor children should be able to maintain a relationship with both parents if they have exhibited the ability to behave in the way that prioritizes the interests of the children

Important Facts Related to Father’s Rights in Oklahoma

Any father who wants to be involved in their children’s lives after they go through a divorce should keep these crucial details in mind:

  • It is not appropriate for either party involved in a divorce to receive preferential treatment. Fathers have the right to petition for child custody. They may file this petition as a stand-alone case or as part of the divorce proceedings.
  • When no court order has been issued regarding specific custody arrangements, each parent has the same rights to their children’s custody. The parents should try to agree to an arrangement on their own, but if they fail to do so, the family court makes a decision based on the children’s best interests.
  • An Oklahoma court must have jurisdiction over a case for it to decide on custody issues. This means that the court must meet Oklahoma’s jurisdiction law before a judge can make any custody rulings.
  • Oklahoma family court judges may take the children’s preferences into consideration when they make decisions on child custody. Keep in mind, however, that the ages of the children may influence the amount of weight the judge gives to their preferences. The primary goal of the courts is to act in the best interests of the children, regardless of their expressed preferences.
  • Fathers have the right in Oklahoma to petition the family court to modify a custody agreement if a material change of substantial proportions that may affect the children’s best interests occurs. Scenarios where this may come into play include those in which a mother is arrested and convicted of criminal activity, remarries, or moves out of the area.
  • If a child is born to unwed parents, the expectation is for the father to accept paternity and then request paternity tests by filing a petition with the court. They do not have automatic visitation rights or rights to custody. Once paternity test results prove the father’s legal standing, he may file for visitation or child custody.
  • Once a father has been granted custody by means of a court order, the mother may not refuse to take the children back or keep them hostage after her visitation time. If a non-custodial parent refuses to return the children to the custodial parent, it can be considered kidnapping.

Protect Your Rights as a Father With the Help of an Attorney

Divorce and child custody cases are rarely easy, as emotions tend to run high during such trying times. In many cases, it seems mothers have the upper hand in seeking custody of their children, but Oklahoma law guarantees fathers equal rights in the eyes of the court. The experienced legal team at Stange Law Firm has the knowledge and skill to help fathers achieve the best outcome in child custody cases. Visit our website today to see how we can help you.