How to Get Custody of a Grandchild in Oklahoma

Oklahoma grandparents custody rightsGrandchild Custody Attorney in Tulsa Ok

There are, unfortunately, circumstances under which children are unable to continue living with their parents. In many cases, this occurs during a time of crisis, and grandparents are often the most qualified and appropriate people to care for minor children.

Fortunately, Oklahoma law has a preference for family members to care for unmarried minor children whose parents cannot care for them themselves. In some cases, preference for family placement results in certain grandparents custody rights.

Oklahoma law provides grandparents a legal path to obtaining guardianship of their grandchild, but that path can be complicated and fraught with potential pitfalls. As a result, if you are seeking guardianship of a grandchild, it’s highly advisable that you speak to an experienced guardianship attorney in Oklahoma as soon as you can.

Oklahoma Guardianship Basics

Under Oklahoma law, a court can appoint a guardian over the person or property of a minor when it appears “necessary or convenient.” A judge makes the decision of whether to appoint a guardian, considering the overall well-being of the child in question.

Guardianship provides the guardian with the legal authority to make major decisions about a child’s care. In this way, it is analogous to legal custody when discussing parental rights. In addition, guardians are entitled to child support, as are custodial parents who have physical custody of their children.

Typically, guardianships are temporary; they can be indefinite but are always subject to termination by the court. That said, grandparent guardianship can be an intermediate step in grandparents adopting their grandchildren, which results in a permanent transfer of full parental rights.

Reasons Grandparents Can File for Custody of Grandchild in Oklahoma

There are a number of circumstances under which you can get guardianship of a grandchild. Sometimes, parents realize that they are unable to provide adequate care for a child and voluntarily transfer the care of their children to a guardian. On the other hand, you may come to the conclusion yourself that your grandchild’s parent or parents are unfit and seek guardianship against their will. Some of the reasons that you may consider seeking a guardianship for a grandchild against their parents’ wishes include:

  • Mental illness
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Documented neglect or abuse
  • The custodial parent is unfit and the other parent will not take the child
  • Incarceration

In some cases, you may want to seek guardianship of your grandchildren when they are in foster care and you have only limited grandparents visitation rights. While many foster parents provide excellent care and nurture children in a way that promotes success, there is sometimes no substitute for the care that can be provided by family members. Furthermore, while grandchildren are in foster care, they are actually in the custody of the state, which means that as a grandparent, you have no decision making authority regarding the way that they are raised.

As an interim step to gaining custody, some grandparents apply to provide grandparents foster care. In addition to visitation, foster care or guardianship of a grandchild, grandparents adopting their grandchildren can be a way to build durable, meaningful bonds when a nuclear family has otherwise suffered disruption.

The Process of Getting Grandparents Custody Rights in Oklahoma

In order to become a guardian for your grandchild, there are certain steps that you need to take. The grandparent custody process begins when you file a petition with the appropriate court, asking the court to grant you guardianship over your grandchild. That petition should provide the judge with information about the child, where and with whom the child has been living, the reason that you are asking for guardianship, the circumstances of the parents, and whether the children have parents in the military or Native American ancestry.

Before the court makes a decision about whether to grant you guardianship, it may require a home study. A home study is an investigation conducted by a licensed social work that is intended to determine whether the proposed guardianship is appropriate. In cases involving family members, however, the judge may waive this requirement. You will also need to pass several background checks before a court will appoint you as a guardian of a minor.

Finally, the court will conduct a guardianship hearing at which the interested parties can present evidence. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will make a decision about whether to grant the petition. The judge may order that you return to court for review or inventory hearings in a few months or a year in order to check in on how the guardianship is working.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Obtain Guardianship of a Grandchild in Oklahoma?

The best way for a grandparent seeking seeking guardianship of a grandchild to do succeed in the legal process is to retain an experienced Oklahoma grandparents custody attorney. Some of the specific ways that a grandparents guardianship attorney in Oklahoma can help include:

  • Determining whether a guardianship is appropriate in your situation
  • Attempt to negotiate an agreement between you and your grandchild’s parents, if your case is contested
  • Prepare the necessary paperwork and file it with the appropriate court
  • Help you through the steps in the process of obtaining guardianship such as the home study and obtaining the necessary background checks
  • Represent you during the guardianship hearing
  • Provide you with ongoing counsel and representation once you have secured guardianship of your grandchild

Talk to a Grandchild Guardianship Lawyer in Oklahoma

If you are a grandparent seeking guardianship over a grandchild or want to learn more about the process in general, you should contact an experienced Tulsa grandparents’ rights attorney as soon as you can. An experienced lawyer can make the process of obtaining guardianship over a grandchild go much more smoothly than it would if you chose to try to handle the matter yourself.

To schedule a confidential, no-obligation consultation, call a Wirth Law Office grandparents rights attorney in Tulsa, Ok., today at 918-879-1681 or contact us online using the email form on this page.

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