Whenever possible, Austin divorce courts will award joint custody after a divorce. The court generally believes that children do best when both parents are given a 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.

When is Sole Custody Awarded?

For sole custody to be considered in the child’s best interests, you will need strong proof. You will need to prove that your spouse’s appointment as a joint conservator would significantly impair your child’s physical health or emotional well-being.

For example: Your spouse may have a history of past abuse or neglect. This 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 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 cannot safely care for your child. Mental illnesses that can potentially impact a parent’s ability to provide appropriate care include: paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, and uncontrolled hallucinations. Since depression and anxiety disorders can be successfully controlled with medication, they may not qualify. This is very case-specific and fact-specific. It is best to speak with a licensed family law attorney to discuss your specific situation.

When a spouse refuses to seek treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, it may be a 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, then this is especially important.

If your spouse has deliberately abandoned the child, then sole custody should not be a problem. Abandonment includes refusing to provide financial support or physical care for the child. Not maintaining contact with the child for an extended period of time is also considered child abandonment. Such abandonment may be cause for permanent termination of parental rights under certain circumstances.

Seek a Austin Family Law Attorney

If you wish to seek sole custody of your child, it is best to hire an Austin 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. It’s important to have someone on your side who can advocate for the best interests of you and your child.