You’ve been unhappy in your marriage for a long time and finally decided to jump ship and file for divorce. You also think that it might be easier on you as a parent to file for sole custody. But should you?
Every marriage is unique and what applies to one parenting situation will not necessarily apply to another, of course. But in most instances, you should really think twice about filing for sole custody of your kids in a divorce.
Sole custody should not be used as punishment
Your ex may be a serial cheater who could not be trusted to stay within the bonds of a marriage without stepping outside for intimate companionship. But this does not necessarily preclude their being responsible and loving parents to their children.
It can be hard to reconcile a philandering spouse with their role as a devoted parent, but the fact is that a person can be both a cheater and a responsible parent at the same time. Sole custody should never be used as a vengeful tactic to keep a parent from their children barring other evidence of irresponsible parenting.
Sole custody can hurt the kids
Unless there is prior evidence of abuse or neglect on the part of your children’s other parent, the courts look askance at attempts to restrict parenting time. After all, the children are part of your ex just as much as they are part of you. They deserve the opportunity to continue to have a close relationship with both of their parents.
You want to control the major decisions
If the two of you have fundamental differences about how the children should be reared, e.g., to vaccinate or not or which religion to follow (if any), you might think that sole custody should be granted to you. But you could still wind up as the decision-maker even in a joint custody situation with the right wording in the order.
Your children may resent you later
The decision to keep a child from spending a great deal of time with their other parent should never be made lightly. Even if you succeed, when your child reaches their majority, this could backfire spectacularly if the child decides to freeze you out and bond with the parent whom they were denied a relationship during their childhood.
It’s expensive to launch a fight you can’t win
A responsible attorney will let a client know that they are facing an expensive, uphill battle to deny the kids’ other parent joint custody when they are likely to lose anyway.
There are certain circumstances when sole custody is appropriate. If the other parent is incapacitated by addiction or mental illness, these are examples of when it may be necessary to seek sole custody. Discussing your concerns with your Colorado family law attorney can help to clarify your custody goals.