In most divorce cases, courts divide parental access to children between both parents in what is known as shared or split custody. Sole custody, where one parent has their children with them full-time (the other parent gets visitation allowances), is granted far less often.
The goal of every court system is to do what is best for the interests, safety, and well-being of the children involved in a divorce and custody case. For this reason, even if you are the primary caregiver of your children, you are very likely to be given joint custody of your children.
Many factors go into whether you will be granted sole or full custody of your children (both physically and legally). Speak with your lawyer to see if any of the following factors regarding child custody apply to your specific case.
Your Child Has Special Needs
Children with special needs often rely on routine and very close supervision in order to thrive. If you have a special needs child who requires an individual education plan at school, constant supervision in the home, and who receives therapy outside the home that you are primarily present for, the court system may grant you full custody of your child so they have fewer transitions in their life.
You will have to prove (with evidence from therapists and special education teachers) that having your child removed from your home for large periods of time will greatly disrupt your child's sense of comfort and safety. Courts will then decide if sole custody in your favor is in the best interest of your unique child.
Your Ex-Spouse is a Danger
If the other parent is a threat to you or your children, then allowing the other parent extended rights to your children will not be considered in the best interests of your children. Domestic violence, drug abuse, or severe mental problems can all be used in court against the other parent to show they are unstable enough to make you uncomfortable with them having the children without your supervision.
Proving your ex-spouse is a current or future danger to your children can be tricky: your lawyer will want email or text message exchanges, recent police reports, past arrests, and any documented abuse you have experienced or witnessed to show the courts to help strengthen your case.
Your Ex is Not Involved with the Children
Are you the primary decision maker for the care and needs of your children? Have you provided most of your kids' needs financially in the past? Has your ex-spouse spent several days away from the home or neglected the children on days when they are not working?
Parental neglect or lack of involvement throughout your marriage can be a factor in whether you gain full legal and physical custody of your children or not. However, be prepared to fight - your ex spouse will try to negate any proof you have of their lack of involvement in the lives of your shared children, and will attempt to convince the courts that you are simply trying to keep the children from them out of spite.
If you are concerned about the welfare of your children and worry the court will not see things your way regarding child custody, hire an experienced family law attorney right away. Together, you and your attorney will come up with a plan of defense to use in the courtroom to prove that you are the parent your children should be with full-time.
A divorce when you have children in common is frustrating and often frightening. Allow our legal team at the office of Allan Brandon Tise PLLC, Attorney at Law to fight for your parental rights during your divorce today.