Hood & Barnett


Hood & Barnett

What is a Parenting Coordinator

Many cases, regardless of sole or legal custody, now have a Parenting Coordinator appointed; however, many parties are confused as to what exactly this person is there to do. Are they a quasi-judge? Are their decisions binding? Is Email enough?

First, a Parenting Coordinator is not a quasi-judge. They do not have judicial authority to determine the best interest of the minor child, modify custody, modify child support, or modify visitation. PCs do not modify court orders but make recommendations to help facilitate and enforce the court orders in place.

The statutory authority is found in 43 O.S. 120.1-120.6. If a Judge does not specify additional authority in an Order Appointing a PC; the PC is limited to the following statutory authority:

1. The authority of a parenting coordinator shall be specified in the order appointing the parenting coordinator and limited to matters that will aid the parties in:

a. identifying disputed issues,

b. reducing misunderstandings,

c. clarifying priorities,

d. exploring possibilities for compromise,

e. developing methods of collaboration in parenting, and

f. complying with the court’s order of custody, visitation, or guardianship.

Second, PCs only make recommendations; however, those recommendations are binding on the parties if (1) the PC is authorized in the order to make a recommendation relating to the issue; (2) the recommendation is made in writing to the court within 20 days and copies given to all parties and counsel; and (3) no parties files an objection within 10 days.  If objections are made then the Court will review the objection and any responses and make the appropriate orders regarding the recommendations.

Third, based upon the statutory requirements for a PC’s recommendation to be binding on the parties you can see that Email is not sufficient. If a PC is merely emailing the parties that may be a good practice to defuse communication issues and resolve issues by agreement; however, it cannot be a binding recommendation via email. Binding recommendations must be filed with the court.

Parenting Coordinators are a great tool for parties who are transitioning from married parents to parenting separately. Many times, particularly closer to the litigation, parties cannot see a way to communicate with the other party; the emotions are still too strong. A PC can be a person to help the parents go through the transition of  getting through the anger and loss of the marriage and help the parents find new ways to communicate regarding their children.  But they are not Judges, they do not hear evidence and make rulings; they are tool to facilitate and implement court orders.


The Truth about the 10 year rule for Division of Military Retirement

Confusion, Myth, or Barracks Lawyers often mislead both service members and their former spouses about the 10 year rule for military retirement division in a divorce.

This rule is not:

1. a prohibition on dividing military retirement in a divorce if the marriage was less than 10 years;

2. a prohibition on dividing military retirement when the service member has less than 10 years of service.

The rule is set forth essentially to govern when DFAS will pay the retirement division directly to the former spouse and when it will not.

Division of military retirement in Oklahoma can happen in any divorce that has one party as a service member, regardless of number of years of service and number of years of marriage.  However, in order for DFAS to cut the check to the former spouse then the parties had to have been married for at least 10 years and that 10 years had to be during a time of at least 10 years of creditable service towards retirement.

If this does not occur the the Courts in Oklahoma can still divide the retirement benefit if deemed equitable. In that situation the service member is responsible for the payment of the benefit to the former spouse; not DFAS.

For further information please call our office and/or review 10 U.S.C 1408

What if my Ex wants to move with the Child?

Under Oklahoma law custodial parent has the presumption to decide where the child lives.  However, if a custodial parent wishes to relocate a child more than 75 miles from the current residence then notice must be giving.  Title 43 section 112.3 governs this process.  This requirement should also be written into any Decree of Dissolution of Marriage or Decree of Paternity.

The statute requires notice to be given sixty (60) days prior to the move or no more than ten (10) days from the date the person knows the required information. The notice must be mailed to the non-custodial parent and include the following:

a. the intended new residence, including the specific address, if known,

b. the mailing address, if not the same,

c. the home telephone number, if known,

d. the date of the intended move or proposed relocation,

e. a brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of a child, if applicable,

f. a proposal for a revised schedule of visitation with the child, if any, and

g. a warning to the nonrelocating parent that an objection to the relocation must be made within thirty (30) days or the relocation will be permitted.”

It is important to note if an objection is not made within thirty (30) days the relocation is permitted. If an objection is made then the non-custodial parent should request an immediate temporary order hearing for the court to determine if the child may leave the state.

Please contact our office for more information and to discuss specifics of your case.