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Is it a good strategy to fight for sole custody during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2020 | Family Law

Divorce often becomes ugly and contentious, with former spouses doing everything they can think of to punish or upset one another. All too often, the children can become a weapon that one parent uses against the other in divorce proceedings.

If you think your ex is irresponsible or you just loathe the idea of them bringing their new love interest around your children, you may feel tempted to seek sole custody as a way to cut your ex out of your life or punish them for their wrongdoing. Is it a good idea to ask for sole custody in a Virginia divorce?

The courts want to do what’s best for the children, not the angry parents

Custody decisions hinge on what the courts deem is in the best interests of the children. For most family circumstances, the courts will interpret those best interests to mean preserving an ongoing and healthy relationship with both of the parents.

The courts want to see former spouses working together and prioritizing the children over any grudges they might have toward one another. When you ask for sole custody without a legitimate justification, the courts will likely question how committed you are to putting the children’s needs first.

The more adamantly you fight with your ex, especially if you disparage them to the children or refuse court-ordered visitation, the more likely it is for such a strategy to result in fewer parental rights for you, as opposed to your ex.

Sometimes, sole custody is what’s best for the kids

Although the Virginia family courts typically prefer to set up a custody arrangement that gives both parents access to the children, there are absolutely scenarios where they choose to deviate from this standard.

A parent who has abandoned the children, engaged in physical abuse of the children, abused their spouse in front of the children or developed a drug or alcohol dependency may not be able to provide protection and resources that children typically require.

If you have documentation of abuse, severe mental health issues, addiction or similar concerns that show that your ex might pose a danger to the children, pursuing sole custody will be in their best interests. Unless you can make a case for having sole custody as a form of protection for your kids, it is unlikely that the courts will grant it unless your ex doesn’t seek custody rights at all.