Modifying a Custody or Visitation Order
What is the standard to modify a custody or visitation order in the state of Oklahoma? I’m Tulsa Attorney James Wirth and that is the question that we have.
So you could be in this scenario, you go to court in a divorce proceeding, custody proceeding, paternity proceeding, whatever it is, and you get a final order for custody, visitation, child support, all of it. And you’re operating under that order for a while, but you don’t really like that order.
So first off, if you don’t like the order immediately, you’ve got a limited amount of time to appeal that to a higher court. So if you can file within 30 days, you can appeal that up to the Oklahoma Supreme Court or the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. If you don’t do that within 30 days, that is waived, that is gone.
But what if something changes down the line that makes you want to file to modify that? What is the standard? And the standard in the state of Oklahoma is called the Gibbons Standard. It’s from a case from the Oklahoma Supreme Court back in 1968. And it says that it’s a two-prong test to see if you can modify.
The Gibbons Standard
So you’ve got to look for whether there was a change since the last order was entered that is permanent, substantial, and material and affects the best interest of the child to the extent that doing something different now would substantially improve the child’s well-being. So that is the standard. We have to have a change since the last order was entered that is permanent, substantial, and material that would have a significant benefit to the child if the order were changed now.
And that is the Gibbons Standard. And that is the requirement that must be proven by the person requesting the change. So if you’re looking at doing a modification or you’re having to defend a modification, you’re gonna want to talk to an attorney about your specific circumstances, come up with a strategy best for you and your kids.
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