Many people are still confused as to what "joint custody" means, although Oklahoma statutory amendments to existing law around the millennium (late 1999) clarified its meaning by bringing in shared parenting. I clear up common misconceptions about joint custody below.
"Getting joint custody means I don't have to pay child support, right?"
WRONG. That's confusing shared parenting with joint custody, although it might be correct to think of shared parenting as joint physical custody. For the most part, child support is based upon both parents' incomes and how much each parent has the child. Calling it joint custody doesn't affect child support. Having shared parenting in Oklahoma, meaning having the child 121 overnights or more per year, will reduce the amount of child support a parent has in increments every handful more of overnights beyond that number. If you have actual 50/50 equal times and your income is the same, only then does child support come out to be zero unless the Judge (and DHS if they are required to approve the child support computation) will allow for a deviation from the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines. Still, who carries health insurance affects the cost of child support as well, as does childcare if you happen to incur that expense. There are many factors that go into child support.
"Having joint custody means the other parent can't do anything with the kid unless I agree to it, right?"
Well, MAYBE. Perhaps so in theory but not in reality--and this is where joint legal custody comes in, which is typically what is referred to when parents are awarded joint custody. Joint legal custody means you are supposed to work together to make important decisions regarding the minor child. What those decisions are in regard to can be spelled out in your joint custody plan, but typically they are major non-emergency medical decisions such as surgeries, where the child goes to school, and what religion and church [Don't ask me what the Judge does on this last one because that would be anybody's guess, and I imagine they would want to steer clear of making any ruling there]. So yes, you are supposed to work together to make decisions, but that's easier said than done. In reality and in my experience, the parent who has the child usually does what they want when they have the child, although that's not how it's necessarily supposed to be. Because joint decisions are so difficult for the Courts to enforce and often require matters of he-said, she-said stuff and, frankly, personal opinions, joint legal custody issues can be difficult for the Courts to enforce.
For more information, feel free to hit me up by message, e-mail, phone, or text; and, if you feel like you know someone who might benefit from this situation, please S H A R E this post with them.
Joel K. Mitchell, Attorney-at-Law
MITCHELL LAW OFFICE, P.C.
1318 W Main St in Collinsville
& 1408 S Denver Ave in Tulsa
E-mail or Call (918) 230-5844
Joel K. Mitchell, Attorney