5 Steps to Follow to File for Sole Custody
Around 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce.
One of the messiest parts of divorce is the decision about child custody.
You may be in a position where your spouse has been abusive or neglectful. Or you may be the parent who can best care for a child’s educational or social needs.
If you are wondering how to get full custody of your child or children, here are some places to start.
1. What Is Full Custody?
In joint custody arrangements, parents who don’t live together share custody based upon their work requirements, housing arrangements, and children’s needs. Parents share responsibility and physical control of the children. Parental non-cooperation and switching physical locations for the children are some common problems in these cases.
Sole custody occurs when a child lives primarily with one parent, and the other parent has visitation rights.
If you are granted sole legal custody, you also have full decision-making authority. You will be permitted to make the call when it comes to your child’s religion, medical care, and education. It is possible for a parent to have both full physical and full legal custody.
More often than not, however, one parent will have full legal custody while both parents will share legal custody, working together to make major decisions.
Generally speaking, it is best not to seek sole custody unless one parent has caused direct harm to the children. Custody laws, however, will vary from state to state.
2. What Are Some Reasons For Full Custody?
You may choose to file for full custody for a number of reasons. Obviously, if it is dangerous for a child to remain in a situation with one parent, the stable parent should file for full custody.
Your child may have special needs that you are better equipped to handle. Or they may be old enough to express their point of view and decide that they would rather live with one parent over the other.
More financial stability or a greater ability to care for a child’s basic needs are also reasons full custody may be granted to one parent. If you are the primary caregiver or have a more flexible schedule that allows you to spend more time with the child, you may also be eligible.
3. Things To Consider
Before filing for sole custody, it is a good idea to research child custody laws in your state. It may take some time, but it will improve your ability to present yourself and your case well.
You should also keep detailed records of communication between yourself and your ex. Keep records of visits, phone calls, and emails between you and your ex. Stick to the facts and refrain from using negative language if you can.
Be polite and respectful to lawyers and judges at all times. Avoiding any displays of anger or frustration will help your case. Arrive on time and dress appropriately.
Stay focused on your mission and remember that what you are doing is completely for your kids.
4. Filing For Custody
It is best to hire an experienced custody lawyer before filing for full custody. If you cannot afford a full-service lawyer, many attorneys may provide limited services for a lower cost. In these cases, they may prepare your documents, give you limited legal advice, or teach you about the area of the law.
You will need to file your petition for custody in the same court you opened your family law case in, even if you live in a different county.
You will be required to fill out a request order giving the request for custody and the facts supporting your request. This should spell out why full custody is in the best interest of the child.
Review your forms carefully, as they will be the basis of your argument. Go over them with your lawyer.
At your local courthouse, you can file your request with the clerk of courts. They will take possession of your forms and require you to pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford the fee, you can always ask for a waiver if you can prove financial hardship.
You will then hire someone to give a copy of your filed forms to your ex. The other party will then have the opportunity to respond to your petition by agreeing with your requests or denying some of them.
In some cases, you may need to try to mediate with your ex before going to court. If you come to an agreement, it can get signed by the court or act as your valid custody order.
5. Going To Trial
If you cannot reach an agreement during mediation, you will need to argue your case before a judge. Courts will look at different factors depending upon your state.
Parents will look at the mental and physical health of those involved, as well as the relationships between parents, children, and siblings.
You will have the opportunity to collect facts, conduct witness interviews, and take photos. If possible, keep records of your child’s community involvement and records from the school.
During the trial itself, do not engage in any arguments. Counter any bad facts as best you can. Keep your answers brief and stick to the facts when arguing your case.
Remember that the interests of your child come first, and your compassion for them should be obvious.
How To Get Full Custody
If you are wondering how to get full custody of your child, begin by deciding if it is in yours and your child’s best interest. If it is, find a trustworthy attorney and begin your journey toward bringing your child home.
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