Monday, October 8, 2007

Child custody - an interesting view from Oklahoma

Thanks to the Divorce Help Network for posting on a link to Oklahoma Law Regarding a Child's Preference as to Custody and Visitation from The Oklahoma Family Law Blog. That last post linked to the Oklahoma statute regarding at what age does a child have a say in custody matters.

I have said before that Indiana children never have a deciding voice in custody matters. Here is the Indiana statue (Indiana Code 31-17-2-8):

(1) The age and sex of the child.
(2) The wishes of the child’s parent or parents.
(3) The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child’s wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age.
(4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with:
(A) the child’s parent or parents;
(B) the child’s sibling; and
(C) any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests.
(5) The child’s adjustment to the child’s:
(A) home;
(B) school; and
(C) community.
(6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
(7) Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent.
(8) Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian, and if the evidence is sufficient, the court shall consider the factors described in section 8.5(b) of this chapter.

Oklahoma takes an approach that I would think gives the child a strong voice in custody matters. Oklahoma's statute is:
2. If the child is of a sufficient age to form an intelligent preference, the court shall consider the expression of preference or other testimony of the child in determining custody or limits of or period of visitation. The court shall not be bound by the child's choice and may take other facts into consideration in awarding custody or limits of or period of visitation. However, if the child is of a sufficient age to form an intelligent preference and the court does not follow the expression of preference of the child as to custody, or limits of visitation, the court shall make specific findings of fact supporting such action if requested by either party.

3. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a child who is twelve (12) years of age or older is of a sufficient age to form an intelligent preference.
Something else from Oklahoma caught my eye.
C. If the child expresses a preference or gives testimony, such preference or testimony may be taken by the court in chambers without the parents or other parties present. If attorneys are not allowed to be present, the court shall state, for the record, the reasons for their exclusion. At the request of either party, a record shall be made of any such proceeding in chambers.

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