43 O.S. §111.1 states, as follows:
- 1. Any order providing for the visitation of a noncustodial parent with any of the children of such noncustodial parent shall provide a specified minimum amount of visitation between the noncustodial parent and the child unless the court determines otherwise.
- Except for good cause shown and when in the best interests of the child, the order shall encourage additional visitations of the noncustodial parent and the child and in addition encourage liberal telephone communications between the noncustodial parent and the child.
Every one of the 77 counties in Oklahoma have their own “Standard Visitation” Schedule, which can be challenging at times because of the inconsistency of what “minimum amount of visitation” means between the different counties. The Administrator of Courts was tasked by the Oklahoma legislature with developing standard visitation schedules and advisory guidelines. The Committee recognized a significant principle such that “[c]hildren do best when both parents have a stable and meaningful involvement in their children’s lives.” See Standard Visitation Schedule and Advisory Guidelines at: https://www.oscn.net/forms/aoc form/adobe/dom.-standard-visit-sch.advis.%20gdelns.pdf.
At Bedlam Law, we primarily practice in Canadian and Oklahoma Counties. Both of their “Standard Visitation” Schedules have different definitions of what “minimum amount of visitation” is. In Canadian County, one parent “shall have parenting time with the minor child(ren) of the parties every other weekend from Thursday after school or day care until Monday morning when the parent returns the child(ren) to school or day care plus every other Wednesday evening from after school or day care until 8:30 p.m.” In Oklahoma County, the non-custodial parent “shall have visitation every other weekend from Friday after school or day care until Monday morning when the non-custodial parent returns the child(ren) to school or day care… Further, the non-custodial parent shall also enjoy a midweek overnight visitation every Wednesday after school or day care until Thursday morning when the non-custodial parent returns the child(ren) to school or day care.” In both counties, holidays and summers are evenly divided as much as possible.
So, what does “minimum amount of visitation” mean? It is to assure that one parent is guaranteed to have some type of continuing contact with the child. Visitations should exceed the number of what is in a standard visitation schedule in order to continue to foster the relationship between that parent and the child while the parents are no longer together.
The bottom line is, it is always best for the child if the parents can work out a visitation schedule that benefits all parties involved, instead of having a court make the decision. The more the parties work out, the more time and money are saved, and a decision regarding the child is kept in the hands of the parents.
At Bedlam Law, we are resolution-minded. There is benefit to negotiation and mediation. The likelihood of surprise or disappointment from trial is eliminated, and you keep control of your case. Once you go into the courtroom and ask a judge to decide an issue, you have given up all control over the outcome and have left it up to the judge to decide what schedule is best for you and your child. There is benefit in having peace in your life and in your child’s life.