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What are my parental rights? Can I keep joint custody of 16 y/o even if they want to live with the other parent?

Broken Arrow, OK |

The other parent has filed a motion to modify because our oldest child 16 y/o decided they wanted to live with them a few months ago. I am custodial parent but we have had joint custody for over ten years and we have each had equal 50/50 visitation time. Now my oldest doesn't wish to see me much at all after a few months living with the other parent :( My youngest 13 y/o still wants the schedule to remain the same as it has been which I am so grateful to hear! My question is do I have a chance of keeping the joint custody plan for both children even if older sibling doesn't wish to see me as much right now? I am still hoping things will turn around soon & they will want to see me more often again. What are my parental rights & what are my chances keeping joint custody for both kids?

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

Yes. Custody and visitation are mutually exclusive. Custody is the legal right to make decisions regarding a child. Visitation is the time each parent spends with the child. Even though the child maybe living with the other parent, you can still be joint custodian. You will need a revision of the joint custody plan and that will probably require a lawyer.

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Asker

Posted

Ok. Thank you. I spoke with another attorney this morning and he told me something very different. He said I didn't have much of a chance of keeping joint custody plan if 16 y/o wanted to live with other parent and other parent was fighting for full custody. He said he hadn't seen very many cases go that way when the child is old enough to make decision. I'm a little confused but thank you so much for getting back with me.

Carla Leann Harcourt

Carla Leann Harcourt

Posted

I don't understand why a child's preference on where to live would have anything to do with whether you remained a joint custodian. What matters in the joint custody vs. sole custody is whether you have been cooperative and acted in the best interest of the child or whether you have done something to terminate the joint custody relationship. Talk to another lawyer and make him/her explain the difference between custody and visitation.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. Yes, I will definitely do that. I don't understand it either but I am noting what you are telling me and taking your advice Mrs. Harcourt. The other parent is trying to make few absurd accusations against me but I don't see how they even have a leg to stand on with what they have listed. It's crazy! I will continue to stand to do what's best for our children and stand up for my own parental rights. Thank you kindly, again for your time and consideration.

Carla Leann Harcourt

Carla Leann Harcourt

Posted

Good Luck!

Posted

Ms. Harcourt has nailed the distinction on custody and visitation for you. I'm not clear why the other attorney told you something so very different. It is very possible to have joint legal custody and not have equal physically present parenting time. And, while courts will give some weight to where an older teen prefers to live, that continues to be balanced on what is in the best interests of the child.
Absurd allegations, at last those that are clearly absurd, tend to help the other party more than the party who is asserting the absurdity, as that party has their credibility diminished in the eyes of the court.

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3 comments

Asker

Posted

Thank you Mr. Pate. I also spoke with a third attorney and was told the same as you and Ms. Harcourt are telling me. I am going pro se as I have been drained of funds being dragged in and out of court for so many years for anything that the other parent thinks they can use against me. I love our children so much and it breaks my heart for them the most. I truly wish and pray this charade would end and I'm hoping the courts can see what is truly happening. Also, one more question. Can only one parent be sole custodian or custodial caregiver over both of our children and does this fit in with the joint legal custody vs. joint physical custody? I believe from what I remember being told many years ago is that the custodial caregiver is just a label and just means that you are simply the custodial caregiver when the children are with you. If our older teen preferences to live with other parent but younger teen chooses to keep the equal physical visitation can the other parent be custodial caregiver over only the older teen? All these labels can get quite confusing.

Kevin H. Pate

Kevin H. Pate

Posted

Equal physical parenting time is not mandatory, nor is it the same, as joint legal custody. Physical presence and Legal custody are separate aspects of interaction with the child. Keep that in mind. If your funds are limited, contact the Legal Aid office nearest you, which is the one in Tulsa ( tinyurl.com/LegalAid-Tulsa .)

Asker

Posted

Okay. Mr. Pate, thank you so much for the information and your time and consideration in helping with this matter. I am seeking all the help I can get and will contact Legal Aid as well. Thank you.

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