Cindy Allen & Associates PLLC

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Domestic violence and child custody

When Oklahoma family courts consider child custody plans filed by divorcing parents, judges consider the best interests of the child. Legal statutes require evaluation of these plans based on the physical, mental and moral welfare of the child. Generally, judges accept plans for joint or shared custody except in cases that involve domestic violence, stalking or harassment.

According to Section 109 of Title 10 of the Oklahoma statutes, these criminal acts create a presumption that any parenting plan that includes the perpetrator would not be in the best interest of the child. Under these circumstances, a court will want a child to live with the parent that did not exhibit the negative behavior.

The law defines domestic violence as the infliction of physical or emotional harm by a current or former member of the household. The threat of causing this harm counts as domestic violence as well. Stalking occurs when a parent persistently follows another person. Harassment happens when a parent knowingly and willfully alarms or annoys the other parent through a pattern of illegitimate contact. Obscene telephone calls represent one example of harassment.

A person who needs to assert legal rights and prevent children from residing with a hostile parent could ask an attorney to document the situation. Services from an attorney could include obtaining copies of police reports and collecting interviews from witnesses of domestic violence, stalking or harassment. An attorney could organize the evidence and file it with the family court. This information might be presented in court to challenge the child custody request by the other parent. If the negative behavior arises after a custody agreement is in place, an attorney could ask the court to modify the agreement to protect the children.

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