Grounds for Full Custody of a Child

During a divorce, parents often worry about the possible outcomes of the dissolution, especially their children’s well-being.

If you are reading this article, you probably believe you can provide a better upbringing for your children, and you are seeking answers about the specifics involved in getting full custody. Below is an overview of the grounds for getting full custody to answer some of your questions and help guide you.

The definition of custody is “the protective care or guardianship of someone or something.” In other words, it is the act of keeping someone or something safe.

As you pursue this part of your divorce, you should know about two types of custody: :

  • Legal custody gives the custodial parent the right to make decisions that surround the child’s well-being or welfare.
  • Physical custody determines where the child in question will actually live.

How Does a Parent Get Full Custody?

First of all, the courts want both parents to raise the children. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that you will be get full custody of your children unless you are able to prove that you warrant it.

Here are some examples of what you would probably have to prove:

  • Full custody would be in the best interests of your children.
  • The other parent shows a serious lack of involvement.
  • Some kind of abuse is occurring in the home (physical, substance, mental, or emotional).
  • The other parent lacks the financial ability to care for the child, or cannot offer the child a proper living environment.

In order to win full custody, you must focus on the best interest of the children.  The judge presiding over your case will take a look at many different things, including:

  • The ability of each parent to fulfill their child-rearing duties
  • The ages of the kids involved
  • The children’s safety
  • Consistent, constructive routines
  • The ways their lives will be impacted if the existing routine is altered

This examination of the routine includes the geographic locations of the parents, and the proximity to the children’s schools, extracurricular activities, doctors, and other healthcare specialists.

Justices will also examine if siblings will be separated. Most judges want to keep the children together if they can. Here is their reasoning: Their lives have drastically changed due to the divorce, so it is critical to keep the relationships with the siblings, step-siblings, and half-siblings as stable as possible.

Parent to Child Relationship

The judge will also examine what each parent has planned for the children. To determine which home is the most stable, they examine the residences of each parent. They are trying to find out if there are any reasons why a home would be inappropriate or unsafe.

Remember, these indications involve the parent to child relationship being unsafe or inappropriate. Therefore, it does not matter if one spouse cheated on the other, or if one parent is gay. . It also does not matter if one spouse is a different religion than the other.

Remember, the only relevant factors are things that directly impact your children. Your lawyer can probably attest to the fact that some parents use their kids to get back at the other parent during a custody battle. They may manipulate the kids by stating that the other parent is dangerous in some way, which will cause the children to turn their backs on that parent.

Of course not, this behavior is NOT in the best interest of your children. Nevertheless, parents embroiled in sometimes-ugly legal battles utilize these tactics.

Another tactic is helplessness: “If I am with Mom, who will be there for Dad?” Or, “If I stay with Mom, Dad will get mad at me and will not love me anymore because he thinks I am on her side. Then he will stop talking to me, and I will not have my Dad anymore.” These beliefs are gut-wrenching and scary for kids.

Here is the bottom line: You have to put your kids first. You may not love your spouse anymore, but you have to do what is right for the children, and put your differences aside to create a stable environment for them.

How You Can Increase Your Chances of Full Custody

Most of the time, courts divide the lives of the children between the parents, but some courts cases do, in fact, warrant full custody. In this section, we shall examine what you can do to increase the likelihood that you will get full custody.

Here are some of the big factors that will help you generate a good image and a strong representation of a parent who should be in charge:

  • Maintaining a professional disposition in the courtroom. (More on this point later in the article.)
  • Putting the children and their interests first.
  • Being prepared in court.
  • Being able to support your claims that the other parent is unfit.

As soon as you and your spouse decide that a divorce is the best way to go, you need start proving that you “put the children first” Certainly, you may not care for one another anymore. However, this indifference does not give you a free pass to bully and manipulate the other parent. This behavior will negatively reflect upon you in court, since you will present yourself as a parent who cannot or will not change in a way that is best for your kids.

Well-meaning parents see what is happening, and instinctively think, “What can I do to minimize the pain these children are feeling? What can I do to alleviate their stress and confusion?”

Children Are Impressionable

They pick up on everything going on around them. Parents must avoid doing things that affect the perception of the other parent. For instance, a mother might buy her son a new bicycle to show him how much more she cares than the child’s father.

But when that child’s father catches him riding the bike without a helmet, he might accuse the mother of unfit parenting. Thus, the child is led to believe that an innocent, quick test ride on a bike is actually proof that the mother put him in an unsafe situation.  

You do not want your child to grow up thinking one parent intentionally put him or her in harm’s way if it is not true. Eventually, he or she will find out the truth, which will only exacerbate the problem. Therefore, it is best to take the high road in all these matters.

Disposition in the Courtroom

In the courtroom, everybody is watching you to see what kind of person you are. The judge will  assess your credibility as a parent, a witness, and a member of the courtroom. The legal teams of both spouses are trained and skilled at determining your character. Therefore, do all you can to portray yourself as a positive, healthy, well-adjusted impression.

Therefore, do not come to court dressed as if you are popping into the grocery store for a pint of ice cream. Blue jeans, tennis shoes, and other casual clothing are unacceptable. To find out more about suitable attire, read online reviews or talk to a fashionable friend. Dress shirts and well-fitting black slacks are good choices for both genders.

From the moment you step out of your car until the moment you get back into the car, maintain a professional demeanor. Wait until you are far away from the courtroom to make any phone calls. For all you know, the people you see in the hallways and restrooms could work for the judge or the opposing attorneys. During courtroom recesses, you are being observed, so act like it.

Lastly, do not play “he said, she said” games with the court. Your goal is to give examples of why you are the better choice for your children by providing emails, receipts, text messages, and photographs in a professional manner. Your lawyer can further assist you with this protocol.

Gender-Neutral Courtrooms

Over the years, times have changed. In the past, mothers were considered to be the better caretakers. But remember, courts now believe that both parents should raise the children.  

Nowadays, dads are taking on the roles that used to be reserved for mothers, such as attending parent-teacher conferences, taking kids to  practices, and chaperoning field trips. Today, fathers are now even in the delivery room, so they establish their importance from the very first day.

Therefore, fathers should buy into the idea that their former spouse will be the one to win full custody of their children. They should also not try to win custody in an attempt to  hurt the other parent.

For instance, some parents may buy their kids everything they want, make them their preferred food, or do anything it takes to make them feel like he or she is the better parent. These parents may also say things like, “A 50/50 split is fine, but I think the kids should live with me most of all because Mom is an unfit parent.” Why agree to a 50/50 split if the mother is so unfit? This argument screams of trying to get sole custody without having evidence to back it up.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Some parents make false allegations as a way to  win a custody battle. This type of deception could result in Child Protective Services getting involved, which could actually work against you.

Both parents must arm themselves with  excellent lawyers who can honestly educate them about the situation at hand. A great attorney can provide reassurance and guidance, and realistically advise you about  threats.

Parents should also get evidence that proves how childcare was handled in the family. Notate who handled the kids during their daily journey, including getting them out of bed, showering, going to school, eating, and completing homework. This documentation will help you show the court whether you handled the child-rearing duties, as opposed to your spouse.

Conclusion

There is much to learn about how to win full custody of your child whether you are just starting out or further along in the process. For further help, speak with your legal team, and get the information that best pertains to your situation.