When parents divorce, they typically need to find ways to share custody of their children, which can be difficult. Some parents fantasize about seeking sole custody because they strongly dislike the idea of seeing their ex constantly.
However, for most divorcing couples in Maryland, shared custody is the goal. The courts want to do what is in the best interests of the children. Psychological research indicates that, in general, strong bonds with both parents are important for social and emotional development.
There are only a limited number of circumstances in which the Maryland family courts will consider granting one parent sole custody in a contested family law matter.
When is sole custody possible?
Sometimes, one parent will agree that they can’t fulfill the duties of parenting without constant support. Your ex might agree with you that you having sole custody would be the best outcome for the children. However, if they don’t agree with you, then you will have to go to court.
Judges will only consider awarding sole custody if there is a compelling concern about shared custody. A documented history of domestic violence could convince a judge to reconsider shared custody as the standard expectation in your case. Sometimes, severe medical issues or a history of drug addiction or alcohol abuse could convince a judge that one parent can’t meet the needs of the children.
Documentation is crucial when seeking sole custody
Verbal claims of abuse or addiction from one spouse will not be enough to have any impact on the proceedings for most families. Medical records showing treatment for addiction issues or even social media posts boasting about their unhealthy level of consumption could help bolster your case.
If you don’t have some kind of evidence to support your claim to sole custody, trying to limit the time your ex has with the children could potentially backfire. If they accuse you of parental alienation and the courts agree, they might view you as failing to act in the best interests of the children. Judges prefer to see parents cooperating and committing to co-parenting rather than fighting.
Of course, if you believe your children will not be safe with the other parent, then seeking sole custody might be the best thing to do. Learning more about child custody proceedings in Maryland will help you prepare for your time in court.