Do Men Get Children in a Divorce in Oklahoma?

by Beverly Bird
Oklahoma custody law is gender neutral.

Oklahoma custody law is gender neutral.

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In years past, it was almost a foregone conclusion that when a father faced divorce, he was going to lose custody of his children. This antiquated "tender years doctrine" held that children -- particularly young ones -- needed to be with their mothers. Most states, including Oklahoma, have shelved this rule. If you're divorcing in this state, the court neither awards nor denies custody based solely on the fact that you're the father.

Gender Bias

Title 43 of Oklahoma's statutes expressly warns judges that they cannot give preference to either parent based on gender when making custody decisions. Instead, courts must base custody on several factors designed to establish which parent can most ably provide for the children's best interests. These factors look at your family's personal dynamics and unique circumstances, and they're taken in total. No single factor is supposed to receive more weight than any other.

Custody Factors

Oklahoma's best interests factors include which parent was your children's primary caregiver when your marriage was intact. This is often the mother, but if the parents' work schedules are such that the father was typically the more hands-on parent, the father may be considered the primary caregiver. Further, the courts don't like to remove children from the home and neighborhood where they've grown up to place them with a parent who lives elsewhere, so if you've relocated from the marital home, you would have to overcome this. The burden of proof is on you to convince the court that you're the most suitable custodial parent.