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Parental rights an important issue in Oklahoma

Currently, mothers make up 83 percent of all custodial parents in the United States, according to census statistics. However, there has been a recent push to ensure that both the mother and the father have equal parenting rights after they divorce. In 2015, 20 states have begun looking at changes to their child custody laws following a divorce or separation. Those who have studied the issue say that maintaining relationships with both parents is in the best interest of the child.

The data suggest that there is still an imbalance when it comes to parenting time between custodial and noncustodial parents. Between 2002 and 2012, noncustodial fathers in Nebraska saw their children on average 5.5 days per month, according to a report by the state's judicial branch. In 2014, the National Parents Organization graded each state on its shared custody laws, and 25 states were given a D.

In Colorado and Texas, bills have been presented that would automatically divide parental rights in a 50/50 manner after a divorce. In Maine, a proposed bill would require judges to consider the value of both parents being in the child's life after a divorce. Parental rights advocates say that such legislation reflects the fact that creating a parenting plan after a divorce should be about the children.

When parents get divorced, child custody may be a contentious issue. Therefore, it may be best for a parent to talk to a family law attorney prior to agreeing to any divorce settlement. Legal counsel may be able to help during either informal negotiations outside of court or while in front of a judge during a formal divorce or child custody hearing.

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