As a parent, you would likely do everything in your power to protect your children. If you and your spouse are planning to divorce, this may involve making tough custody decisions. You may hope that your children can maintain a relationship with your spouse. Yet, you may have serious concerns about how their conduct will impact their safety and well-being. In this case, you must consider whether pursuing sole custody makes sense for your family’s circumstances.

When sole custody makes sense

In Virginia, your custody agreement must reflect the best interests of your children. For many divorcing couples, this means a joint custody arrangement – whether physical, legal or both. Yet, your spouse’s conduct could make this arrangement difficult. If it affects their parental fitness, it may make sense for you to have sole custody. By having sole custody of your children, your home will be their full-time residence. You will also be responsible for making all decisions concerning their lives.

You may want to consider seeking sole custody if your spouse:

  • Has a history of family abuse or sexual abuse
  • Has a history of substance abuse
  • Has a history of neglect
  • Has a history of serious mental illness
  • Cannot satisfy your children’s basic needs
  • Cannot provide your children the stability they need to thrive

Considerations to make before moving forward

Before moving ahead with pursuing sole custody, you must make sure your reasons for seeking it are sound. Many parents who fight for sole custody have their children’s safety and well-being in mind. Yet, others do so in the heat of a contentious custody dispute. If you harbor ill feelings toward your spouse, yet they are a fit and loving parent, it is likely in your children’s best interests to establish a joint custody arrangement.

Furthermore, if you are awarded sole custody of your children, your spouse, in most cases, will receive reasonable visitation. This visitation may or may not be supervised, depending on their circumstances.

Deciding to seek sole custody is a difficult decision to make. Yet, you may feel that it is necessary for your children’s safety and well-being. An attorney can help you understand if it is in their best interests, as well as your options for moving forward.