You Have a Duty to Protect the Child, but You Also Have a Duty to Follow a Court Order
Video Transcribed: Do I have to let the father see my child? I’m Tulsa attorney, James Wirth, and I’m answering frequently asked questions about Oklahoma family law. And that’s the question that comes in is, “In Oklahoma do I have to allow the father to see my child, or our child?” And that answer to that depends.
What are the circumstances? If there is a court order in place, then you’ve got to file that court order unless you believe doing so would put the child in eminent danger of irreparable harm, in which case you need to file an emergency to get that changed.
You’ve got a duty to protect the child, but you also have a duty to follow a court order.
So when they conflict, you’ve got to get back into court. But let’s assume there is no court order in place. Well, if there’s no order in place, there’s really no requirements.
So it’s more an issue of, should you let the father see the child rather than do you have to?
So, if you guys were never married and there’s no court order in place, mom’s got de facto sole custody, you get to decide who sees the child and when, and if you don’t think it’s in the best interest of the child for dad to have visitation, there’s nothing requiring you to do so at that time.
The father would have to file in court to get his rights established, get a custody order and get a visitation order. And then, that point you have an obligation to it. Until then, you don’t.
So what if there’s no order in place, but you guys are married? Same thing, to an extent. First off, rather than you having de facto sole custody, really it’s de facto joint custody. Neither one of you has superior rights to the other.
So there’s nothing that says that you get the child and he doesn’t get the child, but there’s also nothing in order to enforce getting the child for either side. So if you have the child, there’s nothing really to require you to turn it over. That’s got to be an issue decided by the court.
And you can file with the court to get those orders determined, or you can wait and not do that and force the other side to do that. But until there’s an order in place, there’s really no enforceable way to do that. So, do you have to?
No, unless there’s a court order. But, should you? Probably so. Unless it’s going to be a danger to the child. Most people believe, most studies show, that it’s good for kids to have a strong relationship with both parents.
So unless that parent is a danger to the child, you should probably do that. If the child is a danger to the child, don’t just rest on you having the ability to withhold, go ahead and go to court, demonstrate those concerns, get a court order that provides for that.
And then you’re in a safer position for the long-term. But if you’re dealing with any of this, you’re going to want more than this general information. You’re going to want to talk to a Tulsa family attorney about your specific circumstances. Do you want to talk to somebody at my office, go to makelaweasy.com.