The decision about where your children should go to school is an intensely personal one obviously, and your first step should definitely be to speak with your spouse, or ex spouse, about where he or she thinks your children should go to school. In the event that you’re in the middle of a custody dispute, either a new divorce or paternity case or a modification of an existing order, the issue of education is likely to come up. And if you were in the position where you believe that your child, or children, will be served best by attending homeschool and you’re going to need to marshal evidence to make that case to the court. Now, Oklahoma has a very light hand on regulating homeschooling in state. Generally speaking, the only requirement is that children from age five to 18 receive classroom instruction for at least 180 days every school year. And that’s really it.
Grandparents Law in Oklahoma
Now if you have an arraignment or are in custody, the courts are still processing those cases at least in Tulsa County, and it really is a county by county situation. Each County is putting out its own guidance and their own instructions about how the situation should be handled. In Tulsa County, for instance, arraignments and pleadings are being done on special dockets, that are set aside, that are open only to defendants and their defense attorney, and the state, and are special settings specifically designed to get cases off the docket.
If you’re in a position where you’ve been granted grandparent visitation rights and something changes, then it is technically possible for the court to order a modification. One thing that I see a lot in my practice is that if the custodial parent moves with the child, that might trigger a necessary change in schedules.
In the guardianship statutes in the state of Oklahoma, the age is actually 14. At 14 a minor child is allowed to nominate a person to be their guardian, and that nomination carries some pretty heavy presumptions with it. Similarly, in a family law case, a divorce or a paternity action, a child at 12 years old is allowed to express preference. That’s different than the nomination, they’re just expressing a preference about where they want to live. And the court must take that consideration into account. And when making their decision, if the child has expressed a preference and the court goes against that stated preference, there needs to be some reasoning in the order about why the court has decided to disregard the child’s stated preference.
So to think of it in a better way, instead of saying, let’s assume that I’ve divorced and we have children together. My ex-wife and I share custody of the child. Now in that situation, each of us has 100% of the custody. So when the child is with me, I’m going to make all the regular routine decisions for that child. And if there’s a big issue that comes up, typically my divorce order is going to require that I consult with my ex. Now the same is true in other situations like a grandparent’s rights order. So if a court orders that grandparent visitation rights be granted, it doesn’t mean that the parents have less authority. In fact, grandparent visitation is just that.
You’re still the legal parent of that child. You just have your rights curtailed, as a result of the guardianship.
You still, for instance, have to pay child support to the guardian, or to anyone who’s taking care of the child, that’s not you, if you’re in the noncustodial parent. But doesn’t mean the termination of your rights, and guardianships are, by their nature, meant to be temporary stop gap measures, to make for sure a child has somebody in their life that can take care of them, and make those important decisions.
By design guardianships are supposed to be a vehicle that a non-lawyer can use in an emergency situation or in a situation where a parent is unfit or unavailable to take care of a child. Now just because it’s designed to work that way doesn’t mean it works that way in reality and specifically recently there’s been a lot of changes to the law concerning guardianships.