Divorce can easily become messy when a couple lets their emotions guide their decisions at the end of their marriage. People often want to punish their spouse or “win” in the divorce in any way they can. Some people will fight to keep certain assets or try to secure what they view as a favorable asset division outcome. Others think of fighting for sole custody of the children as a way to beat their spouse in a divorce.
If you are about to file for divorce or have recently received service because your spouse filed, you might find yourself thinking about sole custody. However, a contentious approach to custody will not benefit your children and could even hurt your chances for a positive custody outcome.
The Virginia courts just want what’s best for the kids
Courts seek to minimize the negative impact of divorce on children. The best interests of the children will always be the guiding factor in how the Virginia courts split and assign both legal and physical custody.
Unless you can make a legitimate claim that parenting time with your ex is not in the best interest of the children, the courts are unlikely to award you sole custody regardless of how hard you fight for it. The courts may even award less parenting time to one parent because they pose a risk of alienating the children from the other parent. However, there are still rare cases where sole custody is the best possible outcome in a divorce.
When is sole custody in the best interest of the kids?
Although the courts do want to prioritize healthy relationships with both parents, they don’t want to make a decision that will endanger the children. If you can demonstrate to the court that your ex poses some kind of threat or risk for your children, the courts may consider awarding sole custody or only allowing your ex to have supervised visitation with the children.
Situations in which shared custody might not be in the best interests of the children include scenarios involving:
- physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- addiction or substance abuse on the part of one parent
- habitual gambling problems
- a history of neglect or abandonment
- severe psychological issues
- financial or social instability
- health conditions that preclude someone from meeting a child’s basic needs
In all of these situations, a person seeking full custody will have to have more than just a claim. They will need documentation for evidence that validates their request. Fighting for sole custody in a situation that could endanger your children isn’t easy, but it can protect your children from future harm.