How to obtain sole custody

Updated March 18, 2017

In the world of child custody, two types of sole custody exist: legal and physical. Sole physical custody is easier to achieve than sole legal custody because it is easier to prove that physical visitation is potentially damaging to the child than it is to prove that the other parent cannot make decisions about his child. The primary goal of the court is to determine what type of set-up is in the best interest of the child in each individual case to ensure that the child has the best chance in life, which in most cases is both parents, but not always.

Hire a lawyer who specialises in family law. These lawyers are the most familiar with how the legal system works in regard to custody and how to approach a request for sole custody.

Decide if you would like to pursue sole physical custody, sole legal custody or both. Sole physical custody means that the other parent is not given any visitation with the child, but does get input into decisions affecting the child and is allowed access to the child's records. The parent with sole physical custody would have the final say, however. In some instances, visitation may be awarded at the discretion of the custodial parent. Sole legal custody means that you are the only one who can make decisions about the child's life, but the other parent still gets visitation.

Gather the evidence to prove that the other parent is unfit for custody of the child. This can include mental health records, arrest records, any restraining orders or a child abuse case. Proving these issues does not guarantee that the other parent will not get some form of visitation, but the proof is necessary to gain sole custody.

Keep good records of all interactions with the other parent or lack thereof. This documentation is an important element to your case, especially if the other parent does not have much contact on his own.

Complete all actions ordered by the courts. To make an accurate evaluation of whether to award sole custody, the court may order additional steps, which may include hiring a guardian et litum for the child, a home study and psychological evaluations of both parents. These tools are detrimental to your case if they are ordered. Without completion of any tasks that are ordered, the court may deny your request.

Choose your words carefully if you are called on to testify in front of a judge. The judge is only interested in the best interest of your child. If you come off sounding like you are spiteful toward your ex, the judge may deny sole custody based on the assumption that you are asking for it out of spite. Focus on the best interest of the child. Your attorney can coach you on how to carefully word your testimony in front of a judge.

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About the Author

Kimberly Turtenwald began writing professionally in 2000. She has written content for various websites, including Lights 2 You, Online Consultation, Corpus Personal Injury and more. Turtenwald studied editing and publishing at Wisconsin Lutheran College.