One tool used in Oklahoma divorce and paternity cases to help manage conflict is the Proper Conduct Order. Think of it as an order courts use in an effort to get people to act right.
There are various versions of Proper Conduct Orders floating around. While there are some differences, they all pretty much have the same general theme. Below is one example of a Proper Conduct Order.
Example Order For Proper Conduct of Separated or Divorced Parents
- Choosing One Parent Over the Other. The divorce is not the children’s fault. It is not because of anything they did. For the children, it is a confusing, frustrating experience over which they have no control. A child should not be made to feel like they need to choose sides when their parents are at odds.
- Blame for Divorce. Children will tend to blame themselves for the divorce and you must constantly reassure them that they are not to blame and they are not alone. Help them with their fears by assuring them they will be cared for.
- Conflict After Divorce. Research is now suggesting that it is not the divorce that hurts the children, but rather the conflict they have to live with afterward that results in maladjustment.
- Access to Both Parents. It is important for the children to have access to both parents for a balanced picture of male and female roles. They need your time and attention far more than material items. A child can love both parents more if not pressured to love one parent less. They will generally not feel very close to a parent who continually puts down the other and are quick to seek guidance from the parent who has a positive attitude towards life.
- Arguments and Fighting. Your child’s sense of self comes from both parents. They will be burdened if they are told of the other parent’s shortcomings. Spare your children the painful experience of seeing parents fight. This only adds to the pain of divorce and the feeling that the conflict is over the children.
- Mourning. Do your mourning with your adult friends and family rather than using your children as your therapist.
- Children as Messengers. Do not use your visitation to continue an argument with the other parent. Never quarrel in the presence of the children. You should not use the children as messengers to communicate with the other parent.
- Questioning Children. Keep your visitation as pleasant as possible for your children by NOT questioning them regarding activities of the other parent. Do not burden your children with the worries and troubles of adults. Do not discuss with them the details of any pending litigation matters.
- Dating Relationships. Do not expose your children to any person with who you may have a dating relationship.
- Drinking and Unreasonable Hours. Do not visit or transport the children if you have been drinking excessively or are intoxicated. Do not attempt to visit or telephone your children at unreasonable hours.
- Keeping Scheduled Visitation. Always notify the other parent as soon as possible if you are unable to keep your scheduled visitation. It is unfair to your children to keep them waiting and even worse to disappoint them by not coming at all. It is in the best interest of the children that scheduled visitation be timely. A visiting parent waiting or no parent present at the time the children are returned is an aggravation leading to confrontations in the presence of the children.
- Frequent and Continuing Contact with Both Parents. When in the best interests of the children, it is the Court’s policy to assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents and encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing. To this end, when awarding custody, the Court considers which parent is more likely to allow the children frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent.
- Schedules of School, Church or Extracurricular Activities. It shall be the duty of the custodial parent to inform the non-custodial parent and provide copies to the non-custodial parent of all written schedules and notices of any school, church or extracurricular activities or functions pertaining to your children; including, but not limited to: teacher conferences, open houses, award banquets, sporting events, school plays, report cards, test results, school photographs and similar items. It shall be the duty of the custodial parent to inform and provide copies of such to the non-custodial parent as soon as same is made available to the custodial parent. It shall be the duty of the custodial parent to take the necessary action with the school authorities to list the non-custodial parent’s address and phone numbers, and list the non-custodial parent as a person to be contacted in case of an emergency.
- Participation in Children’s School, Extracurricular or Church Activities. It shall be the duty of the non-custodial parent to facilitate your child’s/children’s continued participation in the children’s school activities, extracurricular activities, sporting activities or church activities during your visitation periods.
- Children’s Clothing and Medications. The custodial parent must prepare the children both physically and mentally for visitation. The children and necessities for their care should be available by the custodial parent to the non-custodial parent at the time mutually agreed upon or the time set by the Court. This includes clothing and medications. All items furnished by the custodial parent must be returned with the children.
- Address, Telephone Number and Serious Illness or Injury. You are required to keep the other parent informed of any change of address and change of telephone number of yourself and the children at all times. All such changes must be reported immediately. You are required to inform the other parent at once of serious illness or injury to the children.
- Child Support. Be prompt in paying child support exactly as ordered. You will not be credited with presents, clothes, etc., as part of child support. The parent who has a duty of paying child support must always maintain proof of payment and be in a position to prove the payment (i.e. receipts, canceled checks, etc.)
- Child’s Medical Attention. The custodial parent shall promptly inform the non-custodial parent of any illness of the children which shall require medical attention. The custodial parent is responsible to the provider for all medical and dental expenses of the children over and above what is covered by insurance. The custodial parent shall provide to the non-custodial parent documentation from the provider of the actual expenses, the amount paid by insurance and the balance owing. The non-custodial parent shall reimburse the custodial parent his/her percentage share as determined under the child support guidelines within thirty (30) days of receipt of such documentation.
- Medical and/or Dental Insurance. The parent who has the responsibility of providing major medical and/or dental insurance, or any type of insurance for the minor children, or who has voluntarily provided insurance for the minor children, is required to keep the other parent informed of the proper name and address of the company, any changes in the benefits, any and all pre-admittance notices required of the company, benefit cared with dependent identification numbers, and any other information reasonably necessary to assure the children are covered and claims properly presented to the insurance provider.
- Visitation and Child Support. The issues of visitation and child support are separate and distinct. Neither is dependent upon the other and both are independently enforceable by Contempt. Nonpayment of child support is not a ground the Court is to consider in contempt hearings for denial of visitation. Denial of visitation is not a ground the Court is to consider in contempt hearings for nonpayment of child support.
- Raising Children in a Proper, Cooperative Way. Each parent must realize that the most important job is to carry out the responsibility of raising children in a proper, cooperative way. Always work for the emotional well-being, health, happiness, and safety of your children. Use good judgment and your very best example to achieve these goals. Schedule regular dental and medical examinations. When driving, secure your children in seat belts or a safety chair. Never expose your children to excessive alcohol consumption or illegal drug use nor any dangerous, immoral or illegal situation or circumstances.
- Effect of Failure to Follow Court’s Directions. FAILURE to follow these directions may result in violation of the orders of this Court and may be punished by contempt of Court with a fine, imprisonment or both. Failure to follow these directions will be considered by the Court as a factor in determining the best interests of the children at any hearing before the Court. There may also be the additional expense of attorney fees and court costs, all of which can be better used for the benefit of your children.
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Copyright 2023. Pete D. Louden, Louden Law, PLLC All Rights Reserved