It is typically believed to be in the child’s best interest to keep a strong relationship with both parents after a divorce. That includes spending quality time with each other to ensure their relationship is sustained and fostered. Shared custody agreements are therefore becoming more typical.
However, there are rare circumstances where having sole custody of the kids would be in their best interests. This article describes how to get full custody of a child as a mother.
What is full custody?
Following a divorce or legal separation, full custody, or sole custody, is where one parent is solely responsible for raising and caring for their child. It could imply that they have complete physical custody, complete legal custody, or both.
Full legal custody
If they have full legal custody, one parent has sole authority over all choices relating to the child’s welfare, education, and health. It includes questions like:
- Which schools does the child attend?
- What after-school activities does the child engage in?
- Where medical care is received (including dental care) for the child
- What kind of religious education the child received and/or the location of their religious activities?
- Whom and where does the child spend time?
- If and to where the parent (and child) move
Full physical custody
Full physical custody means the child lives with both parents full-time and is primarily housed in one of the parents’ homes. This agreement frequently includes visitation rights from the non-custodial parent, whether they are unsupervised or monitored. Supervised visitation is typically allowed if the second parent has been proven unable to give the child a safe and caring home.
When it is not in the child’s best interests to allow non-custodial parent visits, the court may do so in exceptional circumstances, such as when the child is deemed at risk or when the non-custodial parent is incarcerated.
In addition, a parent who has primary physical custody of their child is accountable for the following:
- Providing their child with food, drink, and a place to live.
- Managing the child’s education and any ensuing problems and issues
- Covering any further expenses
Even though the non-custodial parent doesn’t see the child, child support is typically awarded if one parent gets full physical custody.
Factors Considered During Custody Cases
The child’s best interests are the first and most important consideration in custody decisions. It means that the needs of the child, and the best approach to meet and support those needs, come before those of the parents.
While the courts frequently assume that a child’s best interests include spending time with both parents, there are specific situations when they recognize this might only sometimes be the case. Full custody is typically requested and granted to safeguard a child from potential bodily danger.
If any of the following apply to one parent, it may be reasonable to ask for full custody:
- Abuse: A parent has physically harmed or sexually exploited the child or the other parent.
- Substance abuse: When a parent uses drugs or alcohol, they may become altered and unable to meet their child’s needs.
- Neglect: A parent neglects to give their child the necessary care, including supervision, clothing, shelter, food, and other basic needs.
- Mental illness: A parent that’s unstable and exhibits unreasonable and unexpected conduct (such as if a parent becomes suicidal) shouldn’t be trusted with a child alone.
Other justifications for pursuing exclusive custody include defending your children or kids from physical harm and the following:
- Abandonment: It might be a good idea to ask for full custody if a parent can’t or won’t care for their child and neglects to keep in touch with them. It is to prevent them from attempting to exercise their parental rights in the future after they have become estranged from the child.
- Relocation: Even if there are no signs of abuse or harm, it may be in the child’s best interests to have sole custody of the surviving parent if one intends to relocate beyond the state or nation.
- Incarceration: If one parent is behind bars, the youngster won’t have somebody to look after them or a place to live. In this situation, it could be wise to ask for full custody and, if necessary, plan to visit the non-custodial parent after their release from jail or prison.
Finally, a judge typically takes into account the following factors while making a decision:
- Courts typically oppose splitting siblings due to the child’s emotional connections to other family members.
- the parents’ concern for and treatment of the child
- The parents’ preference for maintaining their current bond with the child
- The ability and willingness of each parent to promote and aid in the development of a deep bond between the child and their other parent
Seeking full custody
Some parents could work out a custody arrangement on their own. In this scenario, one parent could be ready to give the other full custody.
If you and your partner cannot agree on custody, you must convince the courts that you deserve full custody of your child. Bring a thorough parenting plan that outlines your caregiving responsibilities, your case for full custody, and your vision for your child’s future.
Keep your child’s interests in mind throughout the entire procedure. You’ll need to prepare arguments for why shared custody might be improper or harmful to your child’s well-being because the courts frequently prefer to award joint custody. (Again, this typically occurs in situations involving abuse of the body, mind, or sexuality; mental instability; substance abuse; or other clear risks.)
Remember that it’s best to be prepared when making these arguments, as seeming emotionally invested or unprepared may reduce your chances of succeeding.
How To Get Full Custody Of A Child As A Mother
Historically, divorce and family law in the U.S. have been handled more from a gender perspective. Due to her status as the child’s primary caretaker, the mother typically had easier difficulty obtaining full custody than the father. For the child’s best interests, courts now support joint custody arrangements.
There are several things to consider if you’re a mother who wants sole custody of your child.
First, a parent still has some parental rights even if they do not legally possess their child. These may include the right to decide on the child’s upbringing, education, religion, and medical treatment, and the right to devote time to them. As a result, be aware of if and how paternity can be proved in your situation:
- Paternity rights are frequently (but not always) automatically awarded to fathers with children during marriage.
- If the mother isn’t in a relationship with the father and the child is born outside of marriage, she will typically be given complete legal custody.
- In some states, the father’s name on the birth certificate may not automatically guarantee paternal rights. Furthermore, some state laws do not require mothers to let the father access the child without recognized paternity rights.
- The mother and the father must willingly sign an acceptance of paternity form to prove paternity outside marriage.
Second, obtaining full custody may need more effort and may require going through a protracted court proceeding if you are a mother going through a divorce or you are single, and the father has established paternity.
Do Mothers Have Options to Increase Their Chances of Getting Full Custody?
The greatest thing a mother can do to get ready for a custody dispute is to hire a child custody attorney with a lot of experience with contested custody cases. However, there are additional actions a mother may take to get ready for a custody battle:
- Spend every bit of time you can with your child.
- You should keep detailed records of your youngster’s time with their father.
- Plan your workday so you can stay home with your kids while they’re not in school.
- Make sure you participate in every decision affecting your child’s education, health, and other aspects.
- Show positive parenting behaviors by assisting children with homework, enforcing proper discipline, and offering sufficient supervision.
- Make a note of the events and appointments that the father of your child skips.
- Make sure your house is safe, suitable, and clean.
- Never talk about the other parent with your child or in front of them.
Discuss other matters that can affect custody with your attorney if you are divorcing, such as spousal support, child support, and property distribution. Your lawyer will offer additional advice and information based on your unique situation.
What are the grounds for custody?
Custody decisions can be complex and vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case, but they generally revolve around what’s in the child’s best interests.
Here are some common grounds that courts consider when determining custody:
- Child’s Well-being: The primary factor is the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. The court’s primary goal is to ensure the child is safe and thriving in custody.
- Parenting Abilities: Courts consider each parent’s capability to provide a stable and nurturing environment. They consider a parent’s physical and mental health, parenting skills, and willingness to support the child’s development.
- Child’s Preference: Their wishes may be considered depending on their age and maturity. While not always the sole determinant, the child’s preferences can carry weight, especially in cases involving older children.
Courts often encourage parents to work together to create a custody arrangement for their child’s best interests. If an agreement cannot be reached, a judge will determine based on the evidence and these considerations.
Consulting with an attorney specializing in family law is often advisable to navigate the legal process and advocate for your child’s best interests.
What are the best interests of the child?
The child’s best interests refer to the primary consideration or guiding principle used in legal and policy frameworks to determine what actions, decisions, or arrangements will benefit a child’s overall well-being and development. It is commonly used in family law, child protection, custody disputes, adoption, and other areas involving children’s rights and welfare.
While specific definitions and criteria may vary across jurisdictions, some common factors considered in determining the best interests of the child include:
- Safety and security: Ensuring the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological safety from harm, abuse, neglect, or violence.
- Health and well-being: Promoting the child’s physical and mental health, including access to proper medical care, nutrition, education, and opportunities for personal growth.
- Stability and continuity: Providing a stable and supportive environment that nurtures the child’s growth and minimizes disruptions, including considerations of stable living arrangements, consistent caregiving, and maintaining relationships with family members or significant others.
- Emotional and social development: Supporting the child’s emotional needs, promoting healthy relationships, and encouraging positive socialization.
- Education and development: Ensuring access to education and opportunities for the child’s intellectual, educational, and vocational development.
- Cultural and religious considerations: Respecting and preserving the child’s cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and religious heritage, when relevant, to maintain their identity and sense of belonging.
- Parental involvement: Encouraging a child’s relationship with both parents, provided it is safe and beneficial, and considering the ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs.
It’s important to note that the child’s best interests may be determined through a holistic assessment, considering the unique circumstances of each case. Courts, social services, and legal professionals often use these factors, among others, to make decisions that promote the well-being of the child involved.
Things To Consider When Obtaining Full Custody
The following are some significant—and frequently ignored—factors to remember while thinking about full custody.
- Understand the concept of full custody. Be honest with yourself regarding what gaining full custody would entail for your life before you become involved in a custody dispute that could be contentious and expensive. You’ll always be in charge of your child’s life. Ask yourself why you want exclusive custody.
- Don’t assume that having money makes things easier. It’s only sometimes the case that having more assets or financial stability makes you a better candidate for sole custody and will result in extending your parenting rights. Instead of penalizing socioeconomic distinctions, the court wants to find the optimal living environment for the child and fairly split the marital estate. Regardless of your financial situation, you must demonstrate that you are a more involved and effective parent to the child overall if you want full custody.
- Hire a lawyer and keep your documents organized. Hiring a child custody lawyer to guide you through local custody laws is an excellent idea, primarily since state laws differ. Even with the best intentions, several parents may need clarification on the legal jargon and procedures or even choose not to start the process, which is one of the worst blunders full custody-seeking parents can make. If you’re married, it may be beneficial to begin speaking with a lawyer before the marriage dissolves to gather evidence that can be used later.
- Avoid alienating or disparaging your co-parents. Speaking poorly of your ex-spouse will probably affect your case and damage your relationship with your family. The courts prefer that both parents be involved in their child’s life, even if one parent has sole custody (as long as there are no harmful situations). They anticipate that both parents will support a free and loving relationship between each other and the child as part of this. Putting your feelings aside, you must show that you recognize the value of the other parent’s role in your child’s life and that you are the most qualified to support their relationship.
Get Help In Obtaining Full Custody
Take the next step. You might achieve better outcomes if you retain the services of a family law attorney to guide you through the process, because child custody cases are typically tricky, drawn-out, and contentious affairs. Especially for hotly contested instances or multiple complicated aspects, an expert attorney can assist you in properly taking care of all you need to secure a child custody order.
Your lawyer can also represent you in court and serve as the primary communication point between you and the co-parent, especially if they oppose your custody requests through independent legal counsel.
The lawyers at Huggins Law Office have experience with custody disputes and family law. If you have any questions and want to know more, you may schedule an appointment or consultation with us or call us at (702) 387-4014.