If you are going through a divorce or ending a long-term relationship where a child is involved, you may be considering seeking sole custody for your child. While you may be curious how this process works, it is crucial that you keep in mind that most of the time these custody battles become stressful, frustrating, and overwhelming. Therefore, if you do not think that you can co-parent or share custody, you must be prepared and ready for an extremely difficult and challenging legal battle.
What is sole custody and why would a parent want to pursue this?
Sole custody is a term typically used to describe an arrangement where only one parent receives full responsibility for the child. This means that only one parent is responsible for ensuring that the child is healthy, happy, thriving, and taken care of. The other parent typically has no responsibility whatsoever for the child.
Most couples who are divorcing or splitting up decide that both parents are needed and want to try to work together to be good parents to the child. As a result, they may work with a New Orleans family law attorney to develop a custody agreement that they both mutually agree on. However, it is not unusual for one parent to make the decision to stand up and fight for sole custody. This may be because they are currently angry with the other parent, or they truly believe that it is in the child’s best interest to be with them full time. Sometimes, parents are unfit, have an illness, or are disabled, which prevents them from being able to parent their child. If a parent is considered unfit, this usually means that they have a substance abuse addiction, history of child abuse, or have a long criminal record.
If both parents cannot come to an agreement about custody and visitation for their child, they will likely hire a child custody lawyer to take the case to family court. At their court hearing, the Judge will look over all the facts of the case and determine who should have sole custody and if visitations should be allowed or not.
Five steps to successfully seek sole custody in New Orleans, Louisiana
When a parent is seeking sole custody of their child, they must be able to show proof that having sole custody is in the best interest of the child. In order to successfully do this, they must point out the facts and details of their case, which may be unique compared to other cases.
For example, if your child’s other parent neglected your child multiple times or they are completely incapacitated and unable to care for the child, it is beneficial that you show proof of this. The court will assess all evidence you provide and make their own decision regarding whether or not you should have sole custody of the child. However, if you want to increase your chances of seeking and receiving sole custody, there are five steps you can pursue in New Orleans, Louisiana, which include:
- Be actively present and involved in your child’s life: If you want to successfully pursue sole custody of your child, one of the first steps you will need to take is to be actively present and involved in your child’s life. The court will want to see proof of this, and it must be consistent. You cannot see your child once every couple of months and expect the Judge to grant you sole custody as this shows that you do not see them on a regular basis. You want the court to notice that you are very interested and involved in your child’s learning, health, growing, milestones, and more. This may require showing proof of attending sport events, teacher conferences, school events, and extracurricular activities.
- Cooperate and work with others: Another factor the Judge will be looking for is if you are cooperative and willing to work with others. This means that you must be cooperative and willing to work with your child’s other parent as well as the court during the child custody legal process. This may be very hard as you most likely detest the thought of being around your ex-spouse, but the court will want to see that you are entertaining the thought of possibly co-parenting with them. In order to do this, you must allow them to still have their scheduled visits, include them when making decisions regarding your child’s health or education, and avoid talking negatively about them when your child is around. Being cooperative and working with your child’s other parent shows that you prioritize your child’s best interests and want your child to have a good relationship with their other parent. This also shows that you are not seeking sole custody simply because you are angry or upset with your ex-spouse.
- Allow professionals to analyze and evaluate your home and relationship with the child: The court may decide that you should participate in an in-home evaluation, which is where a professional analyzes and evaluates your relationship with the child. This evaluation takes place at your home, and the professional will watch you play, interact, and take care of the child for a certain length of time. They will likely do the same with the child’s other parent. After both evaluations are complete, the professional will provide feedback to the court and make a recommendation based on what they saw. This shows them how well you raise and look after the child and whether or not the child will be better off in yours or the other parent’s custody.
- Make sure that you present yourself in the best manner possible: While it can be very challenging to fight and win sole custody of a child, there are small and simple changes you can make to show the court that awarding you with sole custody is in the best interest of the child. For example, you should dress very nicely and professionally, attend every court hearing or appointment on time, remain professional, and always follow your family law attorney’s advice. You should also refrain from drinking alcohol or using drugs and continue working a steady job. The goal is to show the Judge that you are reliable, stable, responsible, and will ensure that your child has everything they need to flourish over the years.
- Hire a knowledgeable and skilled New Orleans child custody attorney: Seeking sole custody can change yours and your child’s life. Since this is a very important and critical type of case, it is crucial that you hire a knowledgeable and skilled New Orleans child custody attorney at your earliest convenience. This will increase your chances of winning as well as ensure that you know and understand everything going on and what is needed throughout the legal process. A lawyer will build a strong case, showing that you are a good parent who wants nothing but the best for their child.
If you need an attorney who will guide you through the child custody process, The Law Office of James A. Graham is here to help you. We are a team of experienced family law attorneys who are ready and available to assist you whenever you are ready. Our lawyers are understanding and compassionate toward our clients going through this difficult process, and we will do everything we can to secure the best outcome possible for your custody case. Contact our office in New Orleans or Slidell to get started today.