Dad with Temporary Custody Needs Legal Authority
DHS places the baby with dad. What does dad need to do? I’m Tulsa Attorney James Wirth and that’s the question that we have. More specifically, the question is, dad has the baby who has temporarily, who DHS temporarily removed from mom’s custody. DHS told dad he needs to actually get an attorney before they close the case on mom. So what does he need to do under those circumstances?
All right, well it sounds like we’ve got a child that was born outside of a marriage. Generally speaking, that means that mom’s got de facto sole custody. Now Oklahoma passed a new law November 1st of 2022 that says that the parents of a child born out of wedlock should be treated equal. But in practice, it can be difficult to do that.
For the most part, if you are a dad of a child that’s born out of wedlock, you need a court order in order to prove your parental rights. So under these circumstances, DHS has concerns regarding mom. Sounds like there may have been a voluntary safety plan that mom signed off on to allow the child to be placed with dad in order to avoid the child going into state custody. But DHS can’t close the case then, why?
The Importance of Establishing Legal Authority
Because although dad has the child and presumably is protecting it from DHS’s concerns related to mom, dad does not have any legal authority to keep mom away from the child. So what they’re asking is, dad you need to get an attorney because you need to go file to get your rights established so you can show us that you have the legal authority to protect the child from mom. Because right now you don’t have a piece of paper that says you have sole custody.
So if mom comes and picks up the, to pick up the child, whether that be from you, daycare, or a third party, there’s no legal paperwork that says that you can lawfully deny mom access to the child. And DHS wants you to have that so that they feel safe that you’re gonna be able to protect the child.
Going to Court to Update Orders
So if DHS places the child with you, it’s important to go to court to get the orders updated. DHS cannot update your court orders. DHS does not have that kind of authority. DHS can make a referral to the state prosecutors that can then file for emergency custody to take the child out of the home and put in DHS custody. But outside of that, they don’t have control, but what they can do is come up with a plan.
Hey, we’ve got concerns regarding mom, let’s put the child with dad, and let’s have mom sign an agreement to do that, but then let’s have dad go to court to make sure that we get that finalized in an order that’s enforceable that gives him the legal authority to keep that child. And that sounds like what’s happening here, so that’s what needs to be done.
Get the Help You Need
If you’ve got questions about how to do that, or looking for representation to do that, then go online, you can meet with an attorney at my office, just go to makelaweasy.com.