The tendency nowadays is to give divorcing parents joint custody of their children. The thinking is that both parents should be involved in rearing their kids.
This is fine as far as it goes, but there are situations when the parents can’t work together, and sole custody is the only answer. Hopefully, you and the other parent can work together even if you can no longer share living space.
There is no one way for a member of a divorcing couple to be guaranteed sole custody. If one of the parents behaves in a way that makes joint custody impractical, a judge would be more likely to give one of the parent’s primary authority over child rearing decisions.
The uncooperative parent who demands sole custody may find that the judge will grant it, but to her ex instead of her. Ultimately, however, the judge has to consider what is in the child’s best interest, and there are good reasons for a judge to agree with the parent who requests sole custody.
Make a list of the reasons that you feel your ex has failed as a parent. Is he an alcoholic or a drug addict? Does she go out with her buddies every night, leaving you as primary caretaker?
Is he violent with you or your children? Now, ask yourself, how am I going to prove this?”
The court won’t care whether the two of you like each other. Its main interest will be to protect the child from either parent’s shortcomings.
If there are drugs or alcohol involved on one side, the other parent will probably be better qualified to have primary responsibility for the child. If both of you are sober citizens, the judge may decide that joint custody would be better for the kids.
Has the other parent abused you or your child? If she has, you will have to get your local welfare department involved.
Child Services will investigate both of you. If the child is found to be injured, he or she can be placed in foster care while the truth of the parent’s accusations against each other are sorted out.
Another possibility is hiring a custody evaluator or guardian ad litem. These professionals can prepare reports for the court after they investigate both party’s lives and homes.
They will also be entitled to any reports that others have made regarding your child, such as report cards, doctor’s records and teacher reports. Baby-sitters, coaches and counselors may also play a part in informing the court’s decision.
Your income may also be relevant. You may even have to get references from the people who know you. In short, asking for sole custody is an uphill battle unless your ex’s defects are so glaring that even the judge can pick them out in the few hours you’ll have to convince him at your final hearing.