Bar Journal August 2014
Complete Bar Journal
Home to six military bases, Oklahoma is no stranger to custody cases in which one — or both — parent(s) serve in our country’s armed forces. Military custody cases are often complicated by the possibility or reality of the servicemember-parent being ordered to temporarily relocate outside of Oklahoma. What happens to the deploying parent’s custody and parenting time with the child during deployment? How will decision-making authority be allocated while one parent is absent on military orders? What happens when the deployed parent returns?
Military custody, visitation and support cases can be intimidating. In the back of a lawyer’s mind, it is clear that federal law comes into play. Next, add the Department of Defense’s guidelines, policies and instructions. Finally, there is Oklahoma law for deployed service members. But there is not just Oklahoma’s law to consider. Due to the mobility of servicemembers (SMs) and their families, other state laws come into the mix and into the jurisdictional conflict.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) in Oklahoma has broad power to investigate allegations of abuse of minor children reported to it by the public. DHS conducts investigations that substantiate or unsubstantiate the allegations it receives. In the process of these investigations, records are compiled and reports are created related to the minor children involved. These records and reports can be relevant not only in contested custody cases, but also in criminal matters, protective orders and other types of civil litigation.
In 1910, Oklahoma statutory law granted the custodial parent specific rights and obligations regarding his child. The parent had the right to the custody, control and care of his child, the right to his child’s services and the right to receive the monies that his child earned.1 The parent could not, however, abuse his parental authority. The trial court could free the child from the parent’s dominion, place the child with one of the persons identified in the statute and enforce the parent’s duties of support and education.2
Under Oklahoma law, parents of children born outside of marriage have different automatic rights and obligations than those born of a marital relationship. Generally, if a child is born of a marriage, both parents have legal rights and responsibilities, as the husband is presumed to be the father of the child. Conversely, mothers of children born outside of marriage have custody by default, and unwed fathers have no automatic rights to custody or visitation.1 The Uniform Parentage Act, found in 10 O.S. §7700, et seq., applies in paternity proceedings.
In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court set forth the standard under which claims of ineffective assistance of counsel in criminal cases are still judged in most jurisdictions in the case of Strickland v. Washington.1 As the right to counsel has expanded to encompass certain civil issues, the standard of effective assistance of counsel has likewise been expanded to those civil proceedings. This article will identify the standards set forth in Strickland, examine the application of the same in civil cases and recognize its civil progeny.
In 2011, the Oklahoma Legislature made significant changes to the Oklahoma Anti-
Discrimination Act (OADA). These changes include the elimination of status-based Burk public policy tort claims, the creation of an exclusive statutory cause of action for plaintiffs asserting violations of the OADA and the trimming of remedies available to successful plaintiffs under the OADA. Specifically, monetary damages under the revised OADA are limited to back pay and an additional amount as liquidated damages, designed to compensate the injured party.1 Any interim earnings or amounts that could have been earned with reasonable diligence by the party discriminated against are deducted from these damages.2, 3 Emotional distress and punitive damages are not mentioned in the revised OADA.
The OBA Women in Law Committee is proud to bring a six-hour CLE presentation on the timely topic, “A Dialogue on the Dynamics of a Fair and Independent Judiciary in a Politically Charged Nation” on Friday, Oct. 3. The conference is being hosted by the University of Tulsa College of Law in Tulsa.
You may have read or heard about the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Commission’s proposed change to the MCLE Rules that will eliminate the age 65 exemption from the
MCLE requirements. The proposed change was approved by the Oklahoma Supreme Court on April 7, 2014, with an effective date