Virginia, like most states, tends to prefer shared or joint custody arrangements when parents with children divorce. They view such arrangements as being in the best interest of the children. Most divorcing parents will find that it is generally a waste of their time, money and mental effort to pursue sole custody in a divorce.
However, there are certain situations in which it may be possible. The five examples below are all scenarios in which a parent could ask the court for sole custody.
There’s a history of spousal or child abuse in the family
If your spouse has a criminal record that involves domestic violence or if you have other corroborating evidence that shows a history of abuse for you and the kids that could impact custody decisions. Abuse targeted at the kids will generally affect custody. So is abuse of a parent that the children witnessed, as that scenario can cause psychological harm.
Your spouse has a drug addiction or alcoholism
Few things affect parental ability as much as substance abuse. If your spouse has a history of abusing alcohol or illegal drugs, they may not be capable of parenting without another adult there to supervise them.
Your spouse is currently in jail, prison, inpatient rehab or a mental health institution
In a situation where your spouse is institutionalized or incarcerated, they obviously cannot meet the needs of the children.
Your spouse has mental health issues or problems with chronic instability
If your spouse has serious mental health or even physical ailments, parenting alone can be very difficult. The same is true of those who don’t have a diagnosable mental health issue but who still struggles with instability like frequent job loss.
Your spouse has no interest in parenting
Arguably the most common reason that people get sole custody is that their spouse has no interest in being a parent after the divorce.
Regardless of why you want to ask for sole custody, you will likely need evidence that helps support your claim, whether you want to show the courts a history of abuse or a background of addiction. Gathering documentation before you file for divorce will make it easier for you to prove your claims in court.