Losing time with your children might be your biggest fear as you approach a divorce. You may stress about sharing custody, especially if the situation with your ex-spouse is complex. In stressful cases, you may wonder: is it possible to obtain sole custody?
The short answer is yes, it is possible. You can obtain both sole legal and sole physical custody of your children – or one or the other – in different situations. However, there are many things you must carefully evaluate if you seek sole custody. Here are three particular issues you must consider if you believe obtaining sole custody of your children is the best option.
1. The process
You must complete the proper paperwork to file for custody. This will involve many different documents, including the complaint to the court and the one served to your ex-spouse. It may be beneficial to seek legal guidance while filing and moving forward with this process.
The most important thing to remember is that in North Carolina, child custody disputes must go through the Custody Mediation Program. This helps to encourage parents to work through disputes together before taking matters to court.
2. Your children’s best interests
Your children’s interests will be the most important thing to evaluate if you are seeking sole legal and physical custody. Generally, the law and the courts believe children should maintain contact with both parents – but only if it is possible and in their best interests.
Seeking sole custody generally means you must explain why it is in the children’s best interests. For example, if one parent suffers from alcoholism and can often become a danger to themselves and others when under the influence, it may be in the child’s best interests to stay with the other, sober parent.
In these cases, you can still support your children’s relationships with their other parent by arranging visitation. Even if you maintain sole custody and decision-making abilities, your children can still see their other parent often.
3. The future
Remember, child custody agreements do not have to be set in stone. Considering the example above, it is possible for an alcoholic parent to seek treatment and eventually recover. It would be possible to adjust the custody arrangement in the future on certain conditions, such as if the other parent:
- Obtains treatment for alcoholism
- Remains sober for a set amount of time
- Maintains a lifestyle safe for the children
Therefore, it is also important to consider the future possibilities, even while seeking sole custody in the present. These cases often involve dangerous or emergency situations, but the circumstances could always change in the future.