Philip J. Outhier Attorney at Law

 

Over the past twenty years, I have helped hundreds of individuals with family law matters. On occasion, I have been confronted with a biological parent or legal guardian who desires to temporarily relinquish the care and custody of a minor child to another individual. In the past, that temporary relinquishment could only be accomplished through a very costly guardianship proceeding. In short, without an order of the court, the request was virtually impossible. On April 8, 2014, Governor Fallin signed House Bill 2536 into law. In addition, an emergency clause was added, making the bill effective that same day.

This new law, codified as Okla. Stat. tit 10 §700-701 recognizes that circumstances may arise necessitating that a parent temporarily relinquish the care of a minor, but that parent lacks the monetary resources to hire a lawyer to commence a guardianship. In that instance, the new law provides that a properly executed power of attorney may grant another individual any of the powers regarding the care and custody of a minor child that a custodial parent may have.

The law is not without limitations and exceptions. It specifically limits this temporary relinquishment to a period of one year. In addition, the power of attorney may be revoked by its maker at any time. Furthermore, the maker may not grant a power of attorney to any other person which allows the newly appointed power of attorney to consent to marriage, adoption, abortion, or to terminate the granting parents’ rights. Most importantly, the law recognizes that granting such power of attorney does not deprive the parent of any legal authority regarding the care and custody of the minor child or constitute abandonment under current law.

While it is unclear how this new law interacts with existing law regarding third party custody and/or a deployed parent’s visitation rights, it does provide a good alternative to costly judicial intervention when the need for a temporary change of custody arises. On those occasions, the execution of a power of attorney is a simple alternative to accomplish your goal.

For questions on this matter, contact Philip J. Outhier at Outhier & Caruthers PLLC, by phone at 580-234-6300 or email pouthier@enidoklawyers.com.

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