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Philadelphia Family Lawyer > Blog > Family Law > When Should I Sue for Sole Custody of the Children?

When Should I Sue for Sole Custody of the Children?


Custody battles in divorce are among the most contentious issues. In making decisions, the courts will always consider the best interests of the children. Pennsylvania courts default on the premise that having both parents in the child’s life is preferable to only having one parent. That means that if a spouse is attempting to seek sole custody, they must be able to prove that the other spouse isn’t fit for child-rearing. But it can be a daunting decision because it will cause a great deal of animosity between the parents when one parent alleges that the other is unfit to be around the children.

In Pennsylvania, custody matters are decided by the court in concert with the best interests of the children. If it is in the child’s best interest that one spouse have full custody, the individual who is suing for sole custody must be able to establish that the other spouse is unfit. Below, we’ll take a look at some situations in which it is appropriate to sue for sole custody.

Is the spouse violent or abusive?

 If a spouse has been violent or abusive toward the other spouse or the children, joint custody might not be the best option. The courts will only consider the best interests of the children when determining custody arrangements. If one spouse alleges that the other has been violent or abusive, then that would be a strong argument for sole custody. It’s important to note that the violence may not necessarily be against the children to obtain sole custody. The violence could be toward the other spouse.

Substance abuse situations 

Substance abuse can be considered a factor when awarding one spouse sole custody of the children. However, it may not necessarily be enough for the courts to consider sole custody. The courts will want to know if the spouse is currently abusing drugs or alcohol or whether or not it was in the past. They will also want to know if they are attending meetings related to substance or alcohol abuse and whether or not they have a sponsor. They will also want to know if the spouse has been through detox. They may be required to submit to random drug tests of alcohol monitoring in order to have access to the children.

Custody versus visitation 

Custody includes the power to make legal decisions on behalf of the child. This includes medical and educational decisions. Visitation is something separate. Even if one spouse has sole custody of the children, they may not be able to block the other spouse from having access to the children. This can include supervised visitation.

Talk to a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyer Today 

If you are concerned about the conduct of your former spouse and are considering petitioning the court for sole custody, The Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane can help you prepare arguments to that effect. Call our Philadelphia family lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin addressing your concerns right away.

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