It is never easy to deal with courts, legal proceedings, and the custody of a child. You likely reached this point because you and the child’s other parent are at odds, and it can all lead to a very stressful endeavor. However, while it will be difficult, if you are trying to get full custody of a child, then there are tactics and strategies that you can try to find success in the court system. Today, we will talk about what you need to accomplish to get custody and the steps to take along the way.
What is Full Custody?
The first step in this long process is to get a full understanding of what full custody means and what it entails. By getting sole legal and physical custody, the child will live exclusively with you, and the other parent will only have visitation rights at best. This custody means that you will have full decision-making authority, so you can make decisions about all medical care, education, and religious choices.
Note that full custody means that you get to make all of the decisions. Sometimes, a parent may only have sole physical custody or sole legal custody. Meaning that your child may live with you, but you can’t make all of the decisions. Or, you can take part in legal decisions, but your child doesn't live with you. Know the differences before you move forward.
Keep in mind that there is also joint custody. This is when you and the other parent share responsibility for the child. The decision of where the child lives would be up to the court.
How to Get the Best Chance of Full Custody of a Child
If you are trying to get sole custody, then you need to know the scenarios where you will be presented in the best light. The point is that your child is in the best possible environment where they can properly grow and thrive. With that said, these scenarios will give you the best opportunity to get full custody of the child:
- You have proof that the other parent has neglected, abandoned, or abused the child.
- The other parent is unable to adequately raise and supervise the child.
- You have a protective or restraining order against the other parent, and you believe that they pose a threat to the child.
- You have a more flexible work schedule then the other parent, so you have more time to care for the child.
- The child is old enough to make a clear choice about the parent that they rather live with, and your particular state gives your child the right to express their input.
- Your child has already been living with you, and they are currently thriving in your care.
- The child has special needs, which you are better equipped to handle.
- You have been the primary caregiver, and the other parent has so far had minimal involvement in their life.
- You believe that you are more equipped to ensure the child’s educational success.
- You’re more financially stable than the other parent.
- You have a more stable home environment in which you can provide plenty of food, shelter, and attention.
- The other parent has proven issues, such as a history of alcohol abuse or mental health issues, that prevent them from properly caring for the child.
The Process of Gaining Full Custody
In order to get full custody of a child, you need to do more than just request it from the court. Instead, you will need to go through family court, and they will review the facts. Here is a rundown of how to go through the process and have a chance for success:
If you really want to have full custody of a child, then you need to spend a lot of time preparing and getting all of your facts straight. You will also need to prove what you say. Compile all of the documentation that you have that will prove that you have the capability of raising the child on your own. You can prove that with signed affidavits, photos, and financial statements.
Since you are in a court of law, it is essential that you are 100% honest during the proceedings. Do not try to falsify information or lie in order to try and prove that you deserve full custody. If you do, and the court finds out, then you may be in contempt of court. Even worse, you are almost guaranteed to lose the court battle.
Also, although you may point out facts about why you are more capable of caring for the child or providing for them financially, it is essential that you do not belittle or insult the other parent. Doing so will show you in a bad light, and the behavior could hurt your chances.
How is Custody Determined?
The family court will listen to the testimonies and statements of both parents in order to make their final decision. In many cases, the court may also make a decision based on the following:
- The child’s gender, background, age, and personal health.
- If the child has special needs, then they will factor in which parent is better equipped to handle those needs.
- Environmental factors, such as the crime statistics in the town where each parent lives or the quality of the schools, proximity to extracurricular activities, etc.
- The physical and mental health of you or the other parent.
- The level of attachment to their siblings or other family members that may be living in your home.
Tips for Getting Full Custody of a Child
While we went over the general considerations for how custody is given, there are tips that can help you along the way.
Hire a Lawyer
It is not required to have a lawyer to go to family court and try to get custody of your child. However, if you know that you are in for a fight and that it will be a complicated process, then it is a good idea to hire an attorney.
There are lawyers that specialize in child custody, and they are knowledgeable on state laws and other information that could be a big help. Lawyers are also very familiar with the complicated legal language that can be discussed during this type of hearing. If you get one of these terms wrong, it could be big trouble. So, it is better to have a professional.
Document Your Parenting
If you are with your child a lot right now, then it is a good idea to document the fun activities you do, how you help them learn about life, and the time that you spend with the kids every day. The last thing that you want is to have a judge ask you about your relationship with your children, and you draw a blank.
In addition to writing it all down, you should also take pictures. Photos of you and your kids thriving, smiling, and being happy while doing a multitude of activities can go a long way, especially if the other parent fails to show the same proof.
Use Credible Witnesses
Yes, you can bring in character witnesses during the hearing to help you to prove your case, but you must choose them wisely. Find credible sources, like a good coworker, a member of your religious community, or someone from the PTA board, as a few examples. Have them provide a clear and meaningful statement, and they could make all of the difference.
Realize That it may be a Long Process
In most cases, child custody is not an open-and-shut case. Instead, it could take days or weeks. The most important thing is that you keep your composure through it all. Answer the questions the best you can and be honest at all times. It can get tense at times, but remember that you must keep your cool. Your positive demeanor could be what gets you full custody.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into getting full custody of a child. It will not be an easy process, but then again, the most important things you do in life are never easy. However, if you feel like you are the better parent and that your child needs to live with you to truly thrive, then you must do what is right. Consider the tips discussed here, and you have a fighting chance.