Oklahoma statutes governing grandparent visitation are extremely long and detailed, though relatively clear and easy to understand. In Oklahoma, grandparents may be granted visitation if the court deems it in the best interest of the child, provided that the grandparent can show either parental unfitness, or that the child would suffer harm in the absence of visitation. Visitation will not be awarded under any circumstances if the nuclear family is intact and both parents object to visitation. Family situations in which visitation can be sought include death, divorce, separation, annulment, unmarried parents, incarceration and desertion. In most of these situations, a preexisting relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild is necessary for visitation. Some of the subsections call for a "strong, continuous grandparental relationship."
Oklahoma law provides factors for consideration in deciding the best interests of the child. These include the following:
- The importance to the child of continuing a preexisting relationship with the grandparent
- The age and reasonable preference of the child
- the willingness of the grandparent to encourage a close parent-child relationship
- the length, quality and intimacy of the preexisting grandparental relationship
- The emotional ties between the parent and child
- The motivation and efforts of the grandparent to continue the grandparental relationship
- The parental motivation for denying visitation
- The mental and physical health of the grandparent
- The mental and physical health of the child
- The mental and physical health of the parent
- The permanence and stability of the family unit and environment
- The moral fitness of the parties
- The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the homes of the parties
- the quantity of visitation time requested and any adverse impact it would have on the child's customary activities
- If both parents are dead, the benefit in maintaining the preexisting relationship.
Oklahoma also provides guidelines for proving parental unfitness in a suit for grandparent visitation; however, such a finding cannot be used to terminate parental rights. These factors include the following:
- Chemical or alcohol dependency, untreated or unsuccessfully treated
- A history of violent behavior or domestic abuse
- An emotional or mental illness that impairs judgment or impairs the capacity to recognize reality or to control behavior
- A failure to provide the child with proper care, guidance and support
- Any other condition making the parent unable or unwilling to give a child reasonable parental care.
Adoption does not automatically terminate grandparents rights in Oklahoma as it does in some states. The law states that visitation may be sought if a grandchild is not living with the parents or if legal custody has been given to another party, except in some cases of legal adoption. Grandparents of a legally adopted child cannot request visitation after the adoption or in a case in which a child was adopted before the age of six months. Visitation rights that were awarded before the adoption may not be terminated without an action of the court.
Great-grandparents have the same right to visitation as grandparents.
See Oklahoma statutes or read a more detailed explanation of grandparents' visitation rights in Oklahoma.
Go back to grandparents rights by state.