For most couples going through a divorce, the question about child custody isn’t whether they will share it but how they will do so. In the vast majority of cases, the courts recognize that having both parents involved benefits the children.
However, there are situations in which the Virginia family courts could consider giving one parent sole custody of the minor children in the family. If you find yourself thinking about requesting sole custody, determining whether or not your circumstances necessitate the limitation of your ex’s involvement in the children’s lives will give you a better idea of how likely the courts are to approve your request.
You have to show that sole custody is in the best interests of the children
Losing a relationship with a parent or only getting to see a parent infrequently can cause emotional and social issues for children of all ages. As such, if you want to request full custody, you will need to have a compelling reason for the courts to consider such a custody arrangement.
Situations where you can demonstrate that your co-parent poses some kind of risk to the children due to issues such as neglect, abuse, instability or an inability to provide proper care could potentially result in a sole custody ruling. Simply having an unhealthy relationship or not agreeing with certain parental decisions that your co-parent makes, like not enforcing bedtime, likely won’t be satisfactory grounds for seeking sole custody.
The courts may still award a problematic parent visitation
Even if the courts agree that your ex isn’t currently stable or safe enough to fulfill their parental obligations, they may still try to keep them involved in the children’s lives by granting visitation instead of shared custody.
If there is reason to think that your co-parent poses an immediate threat to the kids, supervised visitation could be an option that could help your family until they either make changes to their lifestyle or improve their parenting skills enough to play a more active role in caring for and raising your kids. Talk with your family law attorney about your options.