Parents who are going through a breakup or divorce often have a hard time seeing the good in one another. They may convince themselves that it would benefit the children to cut the other parent out of the family’s future. However, for most families undergoing a transition in the parents’ relationship, the continued active presence of both parents on a regular basis will be of the utmost importance for the health and happiness of the children in the household.
Even if one parent does ask for sole custody because of the conflict in their relationship, a judge will typically expect them to cooperate with the other parent for the benefit of the children. However, there are scenarios in which one parent will receive sole custody of their children.
Judges need to believe it would be best for the children
The only scenario in which a judge agrees to give one parent sole custody while allowing the other only visitation, if that, is when the judge believes that the children would be at risk in the custody of one of the parents. There are numerous reasons why an individual may not be able to safely parent children. Sometimes, one of the children has exceptional medical issues, and one parent’s lack of experience in the matter could be enough to make their sole care of the children a reason for concern. Often, judges reach the conclusion that sole custody would be best for the children because of an issue with one of the parents.
Someone currently incarcerated is not in a position to spend time with their children or parent them. Extreme medical issues, like current chemotherapy treatment or other debilitating medical concerns, might be reason to worry about the children’s safety. Addiction, including alcoholism, is another reason why parents may worry about leaving their children alone with the other parent in the family. Finally, a history of abuse would also be a justification to request sole custody.
A parent making any allegations about the safety of the children while in the care of the other parent will need documentation beyond just their allegations to affirm their claims. Unsubstantiated claims will likely have minimal impact on the proceedings and could impact how the courts view the parent making the allegations.
As a final note, sometimes sole custody arrangements are possible because parents settle with one another and one of them acknowledges that they do not have the time, patience or space to commit to a shared custody arrangement. Seeking legal guidance to better understand when sole custody may be an option can help parents who are concerned about shared custody arrangements.