What if the Mother and Father do not live in the Same State Oklahoma Divorce Law
What happens when mom and dad live in two separate states?
The first thing we have to ascertain is whether the parties were married or not. If the parties were married and now currently residing in two separate states, each state will have laws in effect that dictate whether or not that person has sufficient residency requirements in order to file a divorce in that jurisdiction.
What happens if both parties want to file for divorce in separate states? Then the courts typically look under what is known as the U.C.C.J.E.A., or Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, to see where the children are residing. A good rule of thumb for this is to look at the state where the child or children have been for the preceding six months. In most instances this will be the jurisdiction that will be able to take hold of the case and take jurisdiction over the children of the parties and be the ultimate jurisdiction that will decide first and foremost where and with whom the children will live, who will get custody, and when the other party will get visitation. They will also decide other matters according to that state’s law such as property disposition, alimony, and tax exemption.
If the parties were not married then they may be looking at filing what is know as a Petition to Establish Paternity. We’ve talked about these Petitions to Establish Paternity previously and again they will follow similar guidelines under the U.C.C.J.E.A. to determine which jurisdiction would be most proper to hear the case at hand. In either regard, whether were talking about a divorce or a Petition to Establish Paternity, the parent who doesn’t reside within the state of the children will have rights to visitation with those children. Now clearly, if two parties live in separate states, it will be more difficult to have visitation as regularly as they would if they lived in the same neighborhood.
The fact that you may not have the same frequency of visitation may be a reason in and of itself, to provide that when the visitation does occur, it should be for a longer duration. As an example, we recently handled a case where a father was residing in Texas and the mother was in Oklahoma. They had been separated for several years. The father had been visiting with the child as regularly as possible according to his work schedule and paying child support in an amount that the parties decided on together. However the mother moved on with another relationship and ultimately became pregnant with another man’s child.
What we had to advise the father, our client, is that he must act swiftly because under Oklahoma law, when two parties are married, any child born during that wedlock is presumed to be the natural child of the parties. In other words, even though the father of the original child lived in Texas, he had not been living with his wife for some period of time and she had moved on to a new relationship in which she is going to have another man’s baby. Unfortunately the original client, our client, could be presumed to be the father of that child and would be presumed to be the father unless and until he steps up and says he is not. Oklahoma has a two-year window on this so it can become very important.
Visitation should be looked at as an opportunity for both parents to enjoy substantially equal time with the children. The courts consider the fact of the distance in travel, travel costs, time away from school, friends and other family and even other siblings when they determine what a long distance visitation schedule should be. If two parties reside in the same jurisdiction, those parties may have been given joint custody and the father would have received week-on week-off type visitation. He may be just as good a father living in another jurisdiction, such as Texas, but its unlikely that the courts would allow week-on week-off visitation simply because the inconvenience to the parties and the child. Not to mention, once the child becomes school age, this simply wouldn’t work with two separate jurisdictions and two separate school districts.
More frequently, what I have seen is that Courts try to modify a visitation schedule to allow, instead of the frequency of the week-on week-off, a less frequent visitation with longer periods of visitation. This could mean possibly awarding the father multiple weeks during the school year around scheduled school breaks, such as summer break and winter break. This would be to allow for the child to spend longer periods of time with the father, as they are not going to be as frequent while they live in another state. Again we must consider the actual length of distance, like if the father had been in Japan versus Texas it would most likely be even less frequent, with even longer visitation.
The point of the matter is if your spouse or the other parent of your child does not live in Oklahoma, or if you were the potential client and you don’t live in Oklahoma, we can certainly provide services for you. Of course, If your children are within the jurisdiction of Oklahoma, we also invite you to call us today and schedule a consultation. We’d like to help.