As with most legal cases, sole custody is never entirely black and white. Sole custody is common in divorce and family law cases where a child is involved, and one parent is deemed unfit or incapable of having any responsibility. As a parent, you can either have legal or physical custody when it comes to obtaining sole custody of your child.
A parent who obtains both legal and physical custody is then given exclusive rights concerning their child. Many parents rather head into divorce proceedings without understanding how to get sole custody of their children and when to ask for it.
When to Get Sole Custody of Your Child
You ask for sole custody as a parent to protect your child from physical and emotional hurt. Therefore, one should ask for sole custody in the following cases:
1. In Case of Abuse
The court orders sole legal custody to the non-abusive parent with a history of abuse, especially a recent one. A parent who assaults or sexually abuses the other parent, their child, or any other child is considered an obvious danger to their child.
2. When There’s Neglect
When a parent neglects a child, it’s evident that the parent will continue neglecting the child in the future. This happens when a parent neglects their child’s basic needs including food, shelter, medical care, safety, security, and clothing.
3. Lack of Contact with the Child
If your co-parent is not and has never been in contact with your child, then it’s appropriate to be given sole custody. A parent who is not in their child’s life might not be in tune with their needs. Therefore, the child is at risk when the parent is responsible for making major decisions for them.
4. The Parent Is Impaired by Mental Illness or Substance Abuse
When a parent is mentally ill or abusing drugs, their judgement is equally impaired. However, when parents going through this try to work on themselves or show consistent effort to work through their issues, then they may be allowed shared custody. However, if the issue involves impaired judgment of the parent, the court might issue custody to the stable parent.
5. No Communication Between the Parents and Child
If the parents’ relationship is so strained that they cannot communicate, the court will offer sole custody to the other parent. However, the court will urge the parents to work on their communication before denying legal custody, although there’s a potential of ordering sole custody.
As the parents, you’re ordered to go through counseling to work on the issues that might negatively affect your child. If it’s clear the communication issue is unresolved and will affect the child’s well-being, then sole custody is granted.
6. Presence of Abandonment
If a parent has shown little or no interest in a child, then you might want sole custody of your child. Sometimes a parent can’t or will not take care of their child. To prevent the parent from resurfacing years later and exercising custody rights even though they’re a virtual stranger to your child, you may want to seek sole custody.
7. If a Parent Relocates
If a parent decides to move out of state or the country, then as the other parent, you should have sole custody of the child. The parent with sole custody can however move with the child without the other parent’s approval.
Although the other parent doesn’t have a say in the matter, the court might halt the relocation if it threatens the other parent’s visitation rights.
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There’s Always a Chance to Get Sole Custody
Depending on your case, sole custody varies greatly depending on your circumstances. Even though courts start with the assumption that the child has a right of engagement from both parents, it might not be appropriate in every situation. Obtaining sole custody can feel overwhelming; therefore, you need to be sure to use airtight legal language and not omit any required information.