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3 times one parent can potentially secure sole custody in West Virginia

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2024 | Child Custody

Many parents navigating a divorce or breakup fantasize about sole custody. They dream of moving on with their lives with their children and not the other parent. While that can be a pleasant concept, it is far from the reality experienced by most adults who end relationships with their co-parents.

It is standard practice in West Virginia and elsewhere in the United States to award joint or shared custody when parents divorce or separate. Family courts typically want to do what is right for the children. The best interests of minor children typically include having positive relationships with both of their parents.

Occasionally, West Virginia family law judges may agree that awarding one parent sole custody is in a child’s best interests. What situations might lead to one parent securing sole custody of shared children?

An agreement between parents

Sometimes, one parent has always shouldered the majority of parental responsibility. The other may have health challenges or a demanding job that could limit their ability to parents. Two adults can decide through mutual agreement to grant one sole custody while the other enjoys a liberal amount of visitation access. Such arrangements are often the easiest means of securing sole custody.

A history of abuse or neglect

Some people honestly believe that their spouses may pose a threat of harm to their children. In cases where there has been pervasive and ongoing domestic violence, especially if the children have been targets and not just witnesses, that could be a reason to seek sole custody. A history of neglect or outright failing to meet a child’s needs could also justify a request for sole custody. Parents typically need evidence other than their own testimony to support their claim that the other parent might endanger the children.

An unstable situation

There are people who would never intentionally hurt their children who still cannot properly parent them. Perhaps they have a debilitating medical condition and refuse to acknowledge the limitations that it generates. Maybe they struggle with addiction despite loving their children deeply. Some people don’t have a safe place to live or lose their jobs because of their inappropriate conduct during a divorce. One parent might be able to obtain sole custody when the other is in a very unstable situation.

Having adequate evidence of concerning circumstances can be as important as a compelling narrative when seeking sole custody in the West Virginia family courts. Learning about when judges may agree that sole custody is best for the children can help those preparing for divorce or custody litigation.