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When can a divorcing parent secure sole custody?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2024 | Custody

Divorce is typically a very emotional process, and few issues make people more emotional than the need to alter the relationship that parents have with their children. The bond between parent and child is very deep, but divorce inevitably changes all family relationships.

Most adults have heard at least one horror story in which a loving parent ends up losing custody. Many people have also heard about nightmare scenarios where people end up co-parenting with someone who is abusive. Someone who has decided to divorce an unstable or volatile partner likely worries about leaving the children unattended in that person’s custody.

Can a parent worried about abuse or other parental misconduct protect their children by seeking sole custody in an Indiana divorce?

Sole custody is an uncommon solution

Contrary to what many people believe about divorce, the custody process is not a winner-take-all scenario in which one adult maintains their relationship with their children at the expense of the other’s bond with the children. For most families, giving both parents a liberal amount of parenting time and a degree of control over a child’s upbringing is the optimal solution for custody.

However, Indiana family law judges recognize that not all family circumstances are the same. Either parent can present evidence to the court to convince a judge that there are unusual or concerning family circumstances. Medical records, photographs of injuries sustained during violent conduct, police reports related to substance abuse issues and other verifiable evidence can potentially convince a judge that they may need to limit the parenting time or authority of one parent.

Proper documentation is crucial when seeking uneven parenting arrangements without the consent of the other parent. For most people, the easiest way to obtain sole custody is through negotiations with a spouse. If there is an agreement to specific terms, then there is no need to convince a judge to intervene.

Parents who have experienced domestic violence or witnessed the substance abuse issues of a spouse may need assistance preparing for divorce so that they meet the necessary standards for evidence. Every custody case is unique, which means that every parent seeking sole custody in an Indiana divorce needs to use a slightly different approach. Understanding the way that the courts approach contested custody matters may benefit parents worried about the protection of their children.