Most professionals involved with the family courts will quickly tell you that shared custody is typically the best arrangement when parents separate or divorce. However, there are certain scenarios in which shared custody is not safe or appropriate.
If your ex has a serious issue with substance abuse, you may worry about their capacity to parent without your support. Their addiction can also affect your child’s social and emotional health. Chemical dependence is one of the reasons the court may consider a request for sole custody.
How do you convince the courts that there is an issue with alcohol or drug abuse in your household?
Has your spouse ever had a brush with law enforcement? Even if they avoided criminal charges, an arrest for drunk driving or possession could be helpful evidence as you attempt to build a case about their substance abuse. Obviously, an actual criminal record involving convictions for offenses involving alcohol or other substances can help you show the courts that there is a real issue affecting your family.
If your ex has ever gotten sick from drinking too much or overdosed on a drug, you may have had to seek out emergency medical care. They may have also undergone voluntary treatment for substance abuse or even have failed drug tests in their medical records. While everyone does have a right to medical privacy, certain relevant medical records could play a role in a custody matter.
Substance abuse is an expensive issue. People who drink habitually may spend thousands of dollars a month on alcohol, and those that consume illicit substances may spend even more connecting with their substance of choice. Recurring charges at bars, frequent cash withdrawals to buy illegal drugs and other financial records can help you substantiate claims that your ex frequently abuses alcohol or illegal drugs.
Evidence could also help you settle outside of court
It can be very difficult for children to witness their parents litigating custody matters and fighting bitterly over parenting time and access. You and your ex could shield your children from this difficult experience by negotiating your own custody arrangements.
If they recognize that you could be in a position to secure so custody if you litigate, your ex may be more likely to cooperate with you during negotiations for an uncontested filing. Settling custody matters through your attorneys or in mediation sessions will keep your children out of court and can also protect your privacy.
Learning more about what influences custody decisions can help you determine the best way to build your custody case.