How to Get Full Custody of Your Children

Updated March 16, 2017

The standard applied in a custody case is determining what is in the best interests of the child. Seeking sole or full custody of your children requires a demonstration of not only why you should obtain custody but why your spouse should be precluded. Family law provisions generally establish a presumption that both parents should share in custody of children whenever possible. Demonstrating facts supporting your proposition is the heart of an effort to get full custody of your children.

Retrieve from the court clerk a motion for custody form. Court clerks typically maintain a selection of forms commonly used in family law proceedings of all types, including those associated with child custody. You pursue custody matters in the court where the underlying divorce, paternity or legal separation case initially was filed.

Fill out the motion for custody form. The court clerk provides instructions on this process.

Include within the motion the specific facts supporting your request for full custody. The facts you present must demonstrate that sole custody with you is in the best interests of your children. For example, if your spouse is incarcerated, this fact supports your contention that sole custody with you is in the best interests of your children.

File the motion with the clerk of the court.

Send a copy of the motion to the other parent. You do not need to send the motion by certified mail. The motion form includes a verification you fill out that attests to the fact that you sent the document as required.

Request a date and time for a hearing on your motion from either the court clerk or the administrative assistant to the judge assigned your case.

Send notice of the hearing to the other parent.

Attend the hearing. Present evidence and argument supporting your contention that full custody is appropriate.


Consider retaining the professional assistance of an experienced attorney. The local and state bar association maintain directories of attorneys in different practice areas, including specialists in family law. Contact information for these groups is available through the American Bar Association:

Things You'll Need

  • Motion for custody
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About the Author

Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.