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When deciding where to file a child custody case, which

would be better? Texas or...
When deciding where to file a child custody case, which would be better? Texas or Oklahoma? I've been told in Oklahoma it's next to impossible to take a child from it's mother unless proven unfit. Is Texas similar in this aspect?
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Answered in 12 minutes by:
3/24/2018
Sean K
Sean K, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 960
Experience: Family Law Attorney in Private Law Firm
Verified

Hi, I’m Sean and I will be assisting you as an expert today. I’m an attorney with more than 20 years of experience. It is my goal to provide a solid overview of your situation. Whether the analysis is good or bad as to your matter, I want to make sure you understand any points you need and that you have options to better address the questions you have. If I am able, I will also provide you with some resources. Please note that the system, independent from me, may offer a phone call. You are not obligated to engage in a phone call, but I am happy to speak if you desire. This is completely up to you.

Even though Texas and Oklahoma are neighbors, they are somewhat varied in their individual approach to custody. In Oklahoma, the Court's look at what is called the "best interest" of a child. The Courts are not "supposed" to favor a Mothe rover a Father, but there are a lot of people who are convinced this still happens.

The way an Oklahoma Court well address custody is to either approve an agreement the parties reach, or failing that, make one party the custodial parent and set the other parties' rights of visitation. The Courts can call it joint custody, but most believe that if a Court decides, they will make one party responsible for the decisions in a child's life and perhaps provide more visitation time.

In Texas things are a bit different.

The law in Texas has a presumption that the parents should be jointly responsible for the care and decisions related to their children. While this may still at the end of the day have one party being the one to make the final decision, the Court has the opportunity and authority to go so far as dividing up responsibility for the decisions.

In both states the thought is that the Court would do what is best for the child, but in Texas, the Court has more options they can use in making their decisions.
At the end of the day the best thing to do is to reach an agreement with the other parent, but if you have to go to Court, Texas seems to have the most options.

Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. There is no specific course of action is proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege formed within this conversation.

If you have any follow up questions it would be my pleasure to answer them. As experts we only get credit for the time and effort we spend on our answers if you rate us positively - 5 stars is definitely appreciated but not required! There is no cost associated with you rating me and you can still ask follow up questions after rating me and I will respond.

One final point, there may be a delay between your question and my answer; this is because I'm either not at my computer or helping someone else but rest assured, if you ask, I will provide an answer. Thank you again.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I have resided in Oklahoma (which is a mother state). The father of my child and I were never married. He is on birth certificate and signed acknowledgement of paternity. Here in Oklahoma he has no legal rights to visitation. I'm trying to decide between two colleges I'd like to attend, one in Oklahoma and the other in Texas. Should he decide to file for paternity / custody I'd like to be in the place where I can better protect my child. Her father is currently in a relationship with a meth addict and I'm not sure what the future may hold in that regard or how bad things could get.

So with that as a foundation, the real question is focused on what his involvement has been. Has he been regularly involved?

The reason I ask is at the end of the day, if your child has resided with you and it has only been visitation, it may be a bit more difficult in Texas because of the presumption, but you could still end up the same place you may have been in Oklahoma.

One additional point to consider as well. If you do go to one state and that state becomes the state for the purposes of the Order, that would be the state that would have ongoing jurisdiction if things came up in the future. You may want to add into the mix where you may consider permanently residing after school as it may be more preferable to live in the state where your decree is filed.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I understand it's presumed joint if you were married but does that apply even for unmarried? In Oklahoma the mother is presumed to have full custody. I had heard from a lawyer in California that that was the case in most states.Yes, he has been fairly regularly involved. Every other weekend. Saturday and Sunday.

Courts anymore tend to look at parents the same whether married or unmarried.

That having been said, what Courts will look at is the history the parties have. For instance in your case if the Father has by deed and action adopted an arrangement where he has been agreeable to having every other weekend, the mere act of you asking to formalize the arrangement would likely not in and of itself create some automatic right for him to either have more time, much less custody.

By this arrangement, the likely result would be you having the majority amount of the physical custody and the decision making authority in either Texas or Oklahoma ( and most other states as well). The reason for this is not that a Mother gets custody and a Father does not or any presumption, but rather because this is what has been occurring and to which he as agreed as is evidenced by his not previously filing something. So at the end of the day, it appears you are on really good position no matter where you chose to proceed.

Sean K
Sean K, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 960
Experience: Family Law Attorney in Private Law Firm
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Sean K and 87 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
OK thank you for clarifying that for me

You are certainly welcome.

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