When many couples with children decide to divorce, they do their best to make a joint custody arrangement work, no matter their feelings toward each other. Yet, this may not be an option in your case if you have concerns about your spouse’s parental fitness. If their conduct has put your child’s safety at risk, you may feel that you must seek sole custody. Before pursuing it, you will need to understand the circumstances in which doing so is appropriate.
Factors that lead to sole custody
Courts in Georgia, unlike in many other states, do not presume that joint custody is in a child’s best interest when their parents get divorced. Yet, it is rare for one parent to receive both sole legal and physical custody of their child. If you seek and receive sole legal custody, you would be responsible for making all major decisions concerning your child. And if you seek and receive sole physical custody, your child’s sole residence would be your home. Likely, your spouse will still have visitation rights. But their time with your child may be supervised if they pose any risk to their safety.
Seeking sole custody may make sense if:
- Your spouse has a history of family violence
- Your spouse has a history of sexual abuse
- Your spouse has a history of substance abuse
- Your spouse has a history of neglect
- Your spouse has a lengthy criminal record
- Your spouse has severe mental health issues
- Your spouse cannot meet your children’s basic physical and emotional needs
- Your spouse cannot provide your children with a stable home environment
Joint custody often provides children with the continuity and stability they need after their parents get divorced. Yet, if your spouse’s conduct puts your child’s well-being at risk, a sole custody arrangement may be appropriate. A family law attorney can help you determine whether it makes sense in your situation.