What to Expect in Oklahoma Family Law in 2021: Medical & Social Issues
By: Amber Godfrey
Medical & Social Issues
This likely goes without saying, but a major area of contention parents are experiencing right now is in the realm of medical decisions for children. Whether a child is masked or not; whether the child gets vaccinated or not (more for in the future, but some kiddos are at such high risk that it becomes a current topic of discussion), arguments about children going out in public or having people over, whether we are checking temperatures and approving COVID testing, whether kids go on other activities or vacations with the other parent—it’s a never-ending list! Brass tacks: if it does or could affect a child’s health, parents are finding ways to disagree over it, and, in the interim, bringing litigation to further their “cause”. Right now, our positive COVID test rates are dropping, but, going forward, I still predict a large area of litigation will center around travel plans for spring break and summer, as those issues are already popping up into our current cases.
These arguments, though, extend even to what the other parent or their spouse is or might be doing; who they are around; the level (and distance) of their travel from home; how “safe” their job is, etc. If the child will then be around that parent or stepparent, the other parent will often bring up how unsafe the child is in their care and how custody or visitation needs to change. Unfortunately, our Courts are divided on this issue. I have seen it go both ways, from “We will temporarily change [custody / visitation] to X, just to get us over the ‘hump’ of COVID” (are we even there yet??) to “There is no statutory authority for post-decree temporary orders outside of an emergency, and this isn’t it!”
Best practices tip: Parents, if you do not want to find yourself in potentially unnecessary and expensive litigation, please try to get on the same page with each other regarding travel from home, exposure to other people (including stores, restaurants, parks, extended families’ homes or friends’ homes, school or extracurricular activities), masking or not, and social distancing in general. Getting on the same page in these regards will save you so many headaches in the long run, even if the effort you have to put forth to engage in those communications with the other parent is strenuously done.
Stay tuned for the rest of this blog series, What to Expect in Oklahoma Family Law in 2021, to be released this month.
To learn more about family law in Oklahoma, visit our Oklahoma Family Law page.
Related: Family Law
Ms. Godfrey has been practicing law for 13 years. Prior to joining WhitbeckBennett, she founded her own private practice in 2016 in Oklahoma City so that she could serve her clients in Cleveland, Oklahoma, and Canadian Counties. She focuses on family law, which includes divorce, child support, custody modifications, Guardian ad Litem, adoption, and guardianships, as well as estate law which includes estate planning, probate.