Is your soon-to-be ex-spouse threatening to take your children away from you so that you'll never see them again? When parents go through an acrimonious divorce, these sorts of threats aren't uncommon. However, that isn't as easily done as some people imagine. Learn more about your rights as a parent and the difficulties of a petition for sole custody.
There has to be a reason for sole custody.
For a court to award sole custody of the children to only one parent, there has to be a very good reason and that reason has to be centered around the child. In other words, if your spouse is angry at you over an affair, that's really not going to be a factor unless the affair affected your ability to be a proper parent to your child. The court makes custody decisions based on the best interests of the child–not what's in the best interests of either of the divorcing couple.
What sort of things could influence a judge to award your ex-spouse sole custody of the children?
You have a history of drug addiction or alcoholism and the problem is ongoing.
You have convictions for domestic abuse, including the abuse of your children.
You've been convicted of neglecting your children.
There's documentation that proves that you don't adequately supervise your children when they're alone in your care, such as hospital reports or social service interventions.
You've been uninvolved, by your choice, in the child's life.
You're physically or mentally unable to care for the child.
If none of those things apply to your case, your ex-spouse is going to have a very difficult time convincing a judge that you don't deserve equal time and control over your children. In addition, the court isn't going to simply accept your ex-spouse's allegations over the matter. He or she has to have some kind of evidence that a serious problem actually exists, not merely his or her opinions.
Ask yourself if there are any documented examples that your spouse can use to show that you have mental health problems, are abusive, or have an addiction issue. Are their police reports? Have social services been involved? Are their doctor records? If there are, discuss the situation with your attorney. If the incident was something out of character for you or well in the past, your attorney may be able to overcome the issue.
Sole custody doesn't equal a loss of visitation.
Even if there is a physical, mental, or financial reason that you aren't able to share custody, that still doesn't mean that you will be prevented from seeing your children. Sole custody doesn't mean that your ex-spouse will have complete control of when, how, and if you see your children.
If you ex-spouse is awarded sole custody, that gives him or her the right to make some decisions regarding your child's welfare without asking for your input. For example, your ex may be able to decide to change their schools or dictate their religious upbringing without your advice.
However, unless there is a compelling reason to prevent you from having any contact with your children at all, the court will generally award you liberal visitation rights, on a court-ordered schedule.
If you have had problems that give the court pause, such as serious drug addiction issues, you can petition the court to grant you supervised visitation for a time. You usually have to pay for the supervisor's time, but it allows you to demonstrate your ability to be a parent over time and move toward unsupervised visitation.
The reality is that your soon-to-be-ex doesn't control the outcome of a custody decision. That's really in the hands of the court. There are also many things that you can do to make the decision a positive one. For more information, talk to an attorney, like one at Pagel Family Law, today.Share