In most states, child custody laws provide that mothers who are not married have complete control, care and custody of their children. Oklahoma is one of those states. Child custody laws in Oklahoma are governed by Title 10 of the state's code.
Custody of a Child Born out of Wedlock
According to Title 10, Sections 104 and 106, of the Oklahoma Code, the birth mother of a child born out of wedlock has full legal custody of her child and has the right to care for her child as she sees fit. The unmarried mother is in full control of the child, including the support, education and residence of the child, unless it becomes necessary for a court of law to step in. If the mother is unable to fully support the child, the other parent must assist to the extent of his ability.
Providing for the Child
If a mother can not financially provide for her child, the other parent can provide support, and the mother does not have to compensate him for voluntarily supporting the child, unless there is an agreement to do so. A third party may also supply necessities to the child. However, the third party is allowed to recover the value from the mother.
Records to be Available to Parents
An unmarried mother who is the custodial parent of a child is entitled to all records of the child, including but not limited to medical and school records. The father can also access these records if he requests them. However, the mother may petition the court to deny access to the father. The court can restrict the father's right if it finds it in the best interest of the child.
Relinquishment of Mother’s Rights to Custody
Oklahoma law allows an unmarried mother to completely relinquish her rights to control her child, regardless of whether she is able or unable to provide adequate support. The father also has the ability to give up his rights to his child. In both instances, it must be done through the court. If either parent abandons the child, that parent is presumed to have given up his or her rights. No other person may surrender or transfer a mother’s rights to the care and custody of her child without a court order and in accordance with the laws of Oklahoma. However, a mother’s custody rights may be taken away from her if it is proven in a court of law that she is unfit.
Visitation Rights of Grandparents
Grandparents of a child of an unwed mother may request that a court grant them visitation with their grandchild. There is a long list of things that the court must look at, and the process can be lengthy. The court will always look to the best interest of the child in the granting of visitation rights to grandparents. If visitation is granted to the grandparents, and the father’s rights have been terminated, the father will still be unable to visit with the child.
Custody of Child Upon Death of Unwed Mother
If an unwed mother passes away, the court would determine with whom the child would live. The court would always grant custody in the best interests of the child. The court would usually consider possible custodians starting in this order: the father; a grandparent; the person who was named by the wishes of the mother; a relative of either parent; the person in whose home the child has been living in a wholesome and stable environment, including but not limited to a foster parent; or any other person whom the court deems to be suitable.