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Seeking sole child custody in a Pennsylvania divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Child Custody

There were likely numerous times during your marriage when you and your spouse didn’t agree on a topic regarding your children. Resolving such issues is a normal part of parenthood and marriage. However, if you believe that your spouse is an unfit parent, and you have decided to file for a divorce, you might also be considering requesting sole child custody.

There are two main types of custody: physical and legal. The latter refers to a parent’s or guardian’s authority to make decisions on behalf of a minor. The former is relevant to permanent residence, meaning where your kids live after you finalize your divorce. Requesting sole child custody means you want your children to live with you full time, and you want full decision-making authority.

What makes a parent unfit for child custody?

If you’re seeking sole custody on the basis that your ex is an unfit parent, you must provide evidence to convince the court. The family court judge overseeing your case will want to know why you think your ex is unfit. The following list includes numerous issues that constitute justifiable cause for seeking sole custody based on the other parent’s unfitness:

  • There is evidence of emotional or physical abuse.
  • The other parent has not taken any interest in or played an active role in the children’s lives.
  • Your ex is addicted to drugs, gambling or alcohol.
  • The other parent is in jail.
  • The other parent has abandoned the children.
  • The other parent has committed acts of depravity.

If you demonstrate evidence that substantiates your allegations, the court may decide to grant you sole physical and legal custody of your children. Under the court’s discretion, this type of situation may be temporary or permanent.

If your ex is disregarding a custody order

No two child custody cases are the same. The court will review your case and make decisions with your children’s best interests in mind. Just remember that, if you request sole custody, you must be prepared to show justifiable cause — that is, a legitimate reason why you believe your ex is an unfit parent.

Once the court has handed down a decision and executed a child custody order, you and your ex must adhere to its terms. For example, if the court order states that your ex is not to have any unsupervised visits with your children, but then tries to pick them up at school, you can report the incident and ask the court to enforce its orders.