Oklahoma’s Child Preference Statute
What does Oklahoma’s Child Preference Statute say? I’m Tulsa Attorney James Wirth, that’s the question that we have, and it is related to Oklahoma statute, like it says. It is Title 43, Section 113, and that is from 2011 law, still in effect there.
And it notes that in any action or proceeding in which a court must determine custody or limits to or periods of visitation, the child may express a preference as to which of the parents the child wishes to have custody or limits to or periods of visitation.
The court shall first determine whether the best age of the child will be served by allowing the child to express a preference as to which parents should have the custody or limits to or periods of visitation with either parent. If the court so finds, then the child may express such a preference or give other testimony.
Child’s Age and Testimony
Then it notes there shall be a rebuttable presumption that a child who is 12 years of age or older is a sufficient age to form an intelligent preference. 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 to or periods of visitation.
Interviewing the child does not diminish the discretion of the court in determining the best age of the child. The court shall not be bound by the child’s choice or wishes and shall take all factors into consideration in awarding custody or limits of or visitation, periods of visitation.
The Judge’s Discretion
So, statute notes that if the child is old enough, intelligent enough to make an intelligent preference, the child is essentially entitled to testify as to that preference. Sometimes that could be done in open court. Sometimes it could be done in chambers without the parties there. However, you are entitled to have a court reporter there, but you cannot get that transcript unless you appeal the case, in which case you can get the transcript to find out what the child actually said.
If the child does testify, though, it doesn’t mean the court has to go along with it. It is a factor for the judge to consider. Most often, if the child can give good reasons for that, typically the judges do go along with the preference of the child if it’s well stated. It doesn’t appear to be any alienation going on or any manipulation of the child, then there’s good reason to do that. But it’s important to note that the judge is not required to go along with it.
Consult an Attorney for Advice
If you’re dealing with a family law matter in Oklahoma and you have a question related to that, you’re probably gonna wanna talk to an attorney privately and confidentially to get legal advice beyond what we can give in a simple video. If you’d like to get that scheduled with an attorney at my office, you can go online to MakeLawEasy.com. We offer free consultations to discuss your case and provide personalized guidance.