Street Law School: How To Make Use of the Noncustodial Parent Visitation Rights Law

visitationThe Noncustodial Parent Visitation Rights Law went into effect on November 1, 2014, and allows noncustodial parents a somewhat simpler way of enforcing their custody schedule when it isn’t being followed by the custodial parent. The new law amends Oklahoma statute 43 O.S. § 111.3, and provides an almost Small Claims Court type procedure that begins with the filing of a MOTION FOR ENFORCEMENT OF NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT VISITATION RIGHTS. The motion must detail the visitation schedule violations and requires that a hearing on the request be scheduled within 21 days, but it could be much sooner in some counties.

An ORDER and Notice of Hearing is issued by the Court, and PROOF OF SERVICE BY CERTIFIED MAIL must be filed at or prior to the hearing. If the other parent is not served at least 10 days before the hearing, the court likely will not hear the case as scheduled, but the matter still must resolved within 45 days.  At the hearing, the Court will evaluate the visitation schedule and the claimed violations, and possibly punish the violator.  If the Court finds that the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent have been “unreasonably” denied or otherwise interfered with by the custodial parent, the Court will enter an order which may provide for one or more of the following remedies:

  1. A specific visitation schedule;
  2. Compensating visitation time for the visitation denied or otherwise interfered with, which time shall be of the same type (e.g. holiday, weekday, weekend, summer) as the visitation denied or otherwise interfered with, and shall be at the convenience of the noncustodial parent;
  3. Posting of a bond, either cash or with sufficient sureties, conditioned upon compliance with the order granting visitation rights;
  4. Attendance of one or both parents at counseling or educational sessions which focus on the impact of visitation disputes on children;
  5. Supervised visitation; or
  6. Any other remedy the court considers appropriate, which may include an order which modifies a prior order granting child custody.

In any event, the Court is required to assess reasonable attorney fees and court costs to the prevailing party on the motion for enforcement of visitation rights. This means that the custodial parent having to respond to the motion may recover her counsel fees if the motion was not well founded.

The new law includes sample forms noncustodial parents can use in lieu of hiring an attorney.

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