Winning full custody of a child may prove to be a challenging fight, as full custody gives one parent both legal and physical custody of their child. It is important to understand why you want full custody before you pursue it. You should not seek it if you simply want to punish your ex-spouse. Full custody is only appropriate if you truly believe their other parent is not fit.
In this article, we’ll cover the factors that a judge will consider when they’re deciding what is best for your child and how you should present yourself in court if you want to win. If you’re determined to get full-custody, this is the general overview of the process you need. For more specific information, it’s best to consult a lawyer.
Factors Considered in Determining Custody
Most courts believe that joint custody is the best option for children as it allows both parents to have regular contact. However, there may be reasons why you feel the other parent should not share custody. In most cases, problematic behavior of the other parent is solid evidence when requesting full custody, but there are other factors the courts will use, including:
- Best interest of the child
- Child’s wishes (often based on age)
- Courtroom demeanor of both parents
- Past incidents of abuse
- Relationship of the two parents
Best Interest of the Child
You will need to state clear reasons in court why the other spouse should not have joint custody of the children. For example, if you have evidence that the other parent suffers from substance abuse issues, you will need to state that in court and provide evidence.
The judge may want to talk to the children as well to see what their wishes are as well. Bring photos, documents, and anything else you may have that indicates you should have full custody.
When you are in court, you need to be polite, respectful, and calm. Even if your former spouse attempts to antagonize you, it is important that you avoid interrupting them and control any angry outbursts, regardless of what they say.
Dress professionally in court, as your appearance will also have an impact. Don’t wear jeans, t-shirts, or clothes with tears or stains. Be prepared with documents and photos to verify your statements. Carry everything in a folder or notebook in order to keep yourself organized in front of the judge.
Overcoming Obstacles to Full Custody
It cannot be stressed enough that courts are very reluctant to award full custody unless there are strong reasons to do so. Domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and evidence of neglect may all be used as reasons to award one parent full custody.
Although getting full custody means you will have physical and legal control of the child, the other parent may be awarded generous visitation rights. You will need to abide by any visitation that is awarded by the courts.
If you believe your children are unsafe with the other parent, it is critical that you make your fears known to the judge during the hearings in order to limit visitation as well as custody of the children.
It is also important to remember that custody and visitation in most states have little bearing on child support. The fact that you have full custody may not mean that you will receive a higher child support amount, although in some states, child support is determined by the number of hours children spend with each parent in a week.
If you are seeking full custody of your children, you need to seek the advice of an attorney. A lawyer can guide you through the process and provide you with information about custody, visitation and child support.