How To Handle Co-Parenting Issues

Divorce lawyer Christian BarnardQuestion:

I need some marriage separation advice on how to handle my children’s sleeping arrangements and if there is an issue of child neglect while my wife and I are going through our divorce.

She is allowing my minor stepdaughter, who is 17, to spend the night in the same bed with her boyfriend in “our” house, although I am not living there.

Is this considered a form of parental neglect?


This answer only includes general divorce help for men since I am only licensed to practice in Oklahoma and am thus unable to provide any advice on child custody laws in your state.

Oklahoma has adopted what is referred to as a moderate construction definition in regard to neglect. This definition gives Oklahoma courts flexibility when interpreting just what is and is not child neglect.

Specifically, under Oklahoma law, neglect has been statutorily defined as both the failure to provide such things as food, medical care, and appropriate supervision, as well as the failure to protect a child from exposure to illegal drugs, illegal activities, or sexual acts or materials that are not age-appropriate.

Under this definition, you may have a claim that your wife is not providing appropriate supervision for your stepdaughter and that she is allowing her to be exposed to sexual acts that are not age-appropriate.

It’s important to note that a court will almost certainly consider your stepdaughter’s age when determining what is and is not appropriate behavior.

The court will also likely look closely at the specifics of the behavior being allowed, as well as the degree of supervision being provided by your wife.

Although I am sure you have already done so, I would recommend speaking with your wife and expressing your concerns about having your stepdaughter’s boyfriend spend the night.  Make it clear to her that you feel allowing these sleepovers is inappropriate.

Let her know that you care about your stepdaughter and only want what’s best for her, and that you feel allowing such behavior may be harmful.

Please understand that my opinions are based upon the limited facts that you provided to me. For a more in depth discussion of fathers rights and legal advice on divorce, I urge you to contact a family law attorney

To set up an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell mens divorce attorney, including Christian D. Barnard, an Associate Attorney in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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