Regardless of longevity, if you have determined that your marriage is no longer sustainable, as a parent, you must resolve certain issues before moving on in life without your spouse. Like all good parents in California or beyond, you consider your children’s well-being a top priority. A divorce will disrupt their lives, but it doesn’t have to ruin them. As for child custody, if you believe you should have sole legal and physical custody of your kids, you will need to convince a judge.
Most family court judges believe children are better off after divorce when they maintain healthy and active relationships with both parents. However, there are exceptions, such as if a parent is unfit. There are certain issues that the court would consider as legitimate cause for seeking sole custody.
Does your ex have a substance abuse problem?
Sadly, many children live in households with a parent who abuses drugs or alcohol. If you have filed for divorce from someone who has a substance addiction, you may have grounds for requesting sole child custody. Your children’s safety and well-being are a central focus in all custody decisions the court might make.
If your co-parent is moving far away
Sharing custody may not be practical if your ex is going to live hundreds or thousands of miles away from your children. This would be another legitimate reason for seeking sole custody of your kids. Maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine in children’s daily lives helps them cope with divorce. If you believe that living with you full-time will help your children do this, you can file a petition to request it.
Legal custody versus physical custody
You can request sole physical custody, which refers to your children’s permanent residence. You may also request sole legal custody, which is the authority to make decisions on your children’s behalf. It is possible to request sole custody for one of these issues but not the other, or you can request sole custody for both. In some cases, the court might allow restricted or supervised visitation. At other times, the court might prohibit a parent from all interaction with his or her children.
If circumstances change later on, and you determine that the arrangement you have is no longer feasible or that circumstances that made your ex unfit no longer exist, you might consider requesting modification of the existing court order. Unless and until the court grants such a modification, however, you and your ex are obligated to adhere to the terms of the existing agreement.