If your spouse has exhibited conduct issues throughout your marriage, their behavior may be reason enough for you to file for divorce. If you two have children, you may fear that, if you share custody, your spouse’s actions could put them in harm’s way. In this case, you likely feel that it makes sense for you to seek sole custody of your children. It is important to understand, though, whether Virginia courts would find your request in their best interests.
Understanding sole custody
Many people find the concept of sole custody confusing. This is because two different kinds of custody exist, being legal and physical. A sole legal custody arrangement is one where you would make all decisions about your children’s lives and well-being. And a sole physical custody arrangement is one where your children would live mainly – or only – with you.
It is uncommon for courts to award sole legal custody and sole physical custody in Virginia divorces. Yet, if you seek both, you may receive them if the court finds that joint custody is not in your children’s best interests. The court may consider sole legal and physical custody appropriate if:
- Your spouse abuses alcohol or drugs
- Your spouse abuses you or your children
- Your spouse neglects you or your children
- Your spouse engages in parental alienation
- You and your spouse are unable and unwilling to communicate or cooperate about parenting matters
How visitation works in sole custody arrangements
If you receive sole legal and physical custody of your children, the court will likely award your spouse visitation rights. Depending on the nature of your spouse’s misconduct, though, their time with your children may happen under supervision. Alternatively, it could come with certain restrictions.
Requesting sole legal and physical custody of your children may be necessary if you believe your spouse could harm or endanger them. By addressing your concerns with a family law attorney, you can determine whether this arrangement is appropriate for your family’s circumstances.