Filing A Petition For Sole Custody
Family law courts have mostly moved away from awarding one parent in a divorce sole or full custody of a child. While the importance of both parents spending equal amounts of time with their children is recognized, exceptions do exist. If you are going through a divorce in which you believe joint or shared custody would jeopardize your child’s best interests, you are entitled to petition the court for sole custody.
Reasons For Seeking Sole Custody
The family court will require a formal request stating the reasons you are seeking fill custody before it will make a ruling. Here are four of the most frequently cited reasons:
1. Unfit Parent — The state of Texas will have its own legal definition of unfit parents, which typically include neglect, abuse, substance dependency, mental illness or others. If a court declares your ex-spouse as unfit, the judge will determine the level of the threat and decide whether the child and that parent may continue to have a relationship.
2. Absent Parent – A court will evaluate particular circumstances to determine if your ex was an absent parent. Your child living with you is not enough for the other parent to be considered absent, and even your ex’s failure to pay child support may not be a sufficient enough. The court will typically want evidence of failed attempts to locate or contact the absent parent. If the other parent tries to reestablish contact after the awarding of sole custody, the court may reconsider.
3. Fighting Parents — If the relationship between you and your former spouse has deteriorated to a level that is bitter and hateful, and that behavior, such as extreme badmouthing, will be detrimental to the well-being of the child, you might be awarded sole custody.
4. Child’s Choice — A judge may consider the preferences of your child — depending on his or her age and level of maturity. However, the child’s wishes will not be enough to let the judge award sole custody. Any of the above reasons to file a petition for sole custody that exist may also motivate your child’s wishes, in which case the court may use that as additional evidence.