Whenever possible, San Jose divorce courts will award joint custody after a divorce. The court generally believes that children do best when both parents are allowed the chance to have a relationship with the children. It is possible for one parent to have sole custody, but you should expect joint legal custody in most circumstances.
For sole custody to be considered in the child’s best interests, you will need to prove that your spouse is an unsuitable parent. For example, your spouse’s history of past abuse or neglect would give the court ample reason to award sole custody. A history of domestic violence may also cause the court to limit a parent’s access to his or her children. Claims of abuse and/or neglect must be substantiated, however. False claims made for the purpose of obtaining sole custody can leave you open to serious legal penalties.
Sole custody can be awarded if your spouse is mentally ill and can not safely care for the child. Mental illnesses that would impact a parent’s ability to provide appropriate care include paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, or uncontrolled hallucinations. Depression or anxiety disorders being successfully controlled with medication would not qualify.
A drug or alcohol addiction that your spouse refuses to seek treatment for may be reason to seek full custody if you can provide proof of how the addiction has affected his or her ability to care for the child.
If your spouse has deliberately abandoned the child, sole custody should not be a problem. Abandonment includes refusing to provide financial support or physical care for the child, as well as not maintaining contact with the child for an extended period of time. Abandonment may be cause for permanent termination of parental rights under certain circumstances.
If you wish to seek sole custody of your child, it is best to hire a San Jose family law attorney with extensive experience in custody cases. Do not attempt to handle a custody dispute on your own. The laws regarding child custody can be quite complex, so it’s important to have someone on your side who can advocate for the best interests of you and your child.