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Child Custody | Family

How Do I Get Full Child Custody?

7 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

To get full custody of your child, you will need to prove in court that it will be in your child’s best interest. In this article, you will learn about the key factors a judge will consider when making that custody decision. We will also share a way to manage your legal costs in a custody battle.

If you are wondering if it’s possible to get full custody of a child the answer to this question is “yes”. With that said, proving your court case is not easy. Receiving full custody requires solid evidence and substantial preparation, an Unbundled Lawyer can help you navigate the process.

What is Full Custody?

There are several different types of child custody arrangements. However, the two most common custody forms that a court typically considers are full/sole custody and joint custody.

The term “full custody” is often used interchangeably with the term “sole custody.” Both terms describe a custody situation where one parent has custody of the child. Sole or full custody can refer to physical custody, legal custody, or both.

Sole physical custody means that the child lives with one of the parents while the other parent has visitation rights (or no visitation rights if these have been revoked by the court).

Sole legal custody means that one of the parents makes all the key decisions in a child’s life. This includes decisions related to medical care, education, upbringing, and more. 

If one parent has both physical and legal custody of the child, this means that they alone are in charge of where the child resides and what decisions are in their best interest.

Joint custody is an arrangement where two parents split physical custody of the child. Legal custody means decisions can either be shared by the parents or belong to one parent.

Reasons for Seeking Full Custody

You may be guided by a variety of factors in your decision to seek full custody of your child. However, there are only a few reasons that will hold up in court and have the potential of convincing a judge to grant full custody. These include:

Physical or sexual abuse. If one parent can present evidence of physical or sexual abuse by the other parent, there is a higher chance they will be granted full custody.

Neglect. Neglect is defined as the inability or unwillingness of a parent to provide a child with the necessary care. This includes medical care, shelter, food and other resources, supervision, and more. Proven history or separate instances of neglect are solid grounds for demanding sole custody. 

Incarceration. If one parent goes to jail, this doesn’t mean that they automatically lose custody of their child. They may still preserve legal custody and participate in the decisions that affect the child’s life and have visitation rights. However, if you can prove in court that this goes against your child’s well-being, you can file for sole custody — there is a high probability your wish will be granted. 

Substance abuse. If a parent abuses drugs or alcohol, they won’t be able to provide proper care for the child. If you have evidence of substance abuse, you can use this as the basis of your sole custody case.

Mental illness. If one parent suffers from a mental illness that prevents them from being a reliable caretaker, the other parent has grounds for demanding sole custody.

Relocation. If one parent moves to another city, state, or country it may be in the child’s best interest for the other parent to have full custody. In this case, however, things are not as clear-cut. When making a decision, the court will consider the child’s relationship with both parents, which have been the primary caregiver, and the ability of each parent to provide proper living conditions, etc.

This is not an extensive list of reasons and factors that may guide a judge to consider granting full custody. The underlying principle for granting full custody is that this decision by the court will be what is in the best interest of the child.

Thus, if you plan to seek full custody, you will need to provide the court with sufficient evidence that your child will benefit from this arrangement.

How to Get Full Custody of a Child?

To get full custody of a child, you will need to prove in court that it will be in the child’s best interest. You will need to make the case that the other parent is incapable of providing proper care for the child.

Here is what you will need to do:

Provide all relevant documents that prove that you are capable of raising the child on your own. These can be financial statements, references from work, statements by your child’s teachers or therapist, and more.

Offer evidence that the other parent is incapable of taking care of the child. If you are requesting sole physical custody, you should demonstrate that visitation with the other parent is causing harm to the child. If you are seeking sole legal custody, you will need to show that the other parent’s participation in the child’s life is either non-existent or goes against the child’s best interest.

All the documentation you provide in court should be genuine. You should not intentionally exaggerate any of the information you provide or present false information. This may lead to you being held in contempt of court and result in criminal charges filed against you.

Your behavior in court may also affect the final decision. It is important to point out the differences between you and the other parent that justifies your seeking full custody. With that, you shouldn’t belittle or offend the other parent in court and do your best to keep your emotions at bay.

Do I Have a Chance of Getting Sole Custody?

Your chances of getting full custody depend solely on the strength of your case.

Every court deciding on a child custody case will be guided by the best interests of the child. In most cases, this presupposes joint custody is best when both parents can communicate with their children and take part in their lives. 

In some cases, however, joint custody is not the best option for the child. 

Your best chance of getting full custody is to reach an agreement with the other parent. If both of you agree on sole custody, the court will typically grant your request. The same goes for when the other parent isn’t present in court or doesn’t contest your demand for custody.

If the other parent is fighting for custody, you will need to provide evidence that they are unfit to care for your child. Proceedings for gaining full custody tend to be long and tedious. The case “against” your partner will need to be backed by solid evidence. 

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Full Custody?

If the other parent doesn’t agree with your request for sole custody, you may have a long legal battle ahead of you. In this case, it is recommended that you do have professional legal help to prepare and present your case.

So, how much do the services of a child custody lawyer cost? Most custody lawyers tend to charge a package fee for their services, which ranges from $3,000 to $5,000. With that, if your case is particularly complicated, be prepared for your lawyer to charge an additional $300 to $500 per hour. Needless to say, a child custody case can get quite expensive. 

How to Save Money with Unbundled Legal Services?

Child custody lawyers are expensive because they provide a comprehensive set of services. This includes gathering evidence for your case, representing you in court, drafting agreements, negotiating with the other parent, and more. 

The thing is — you might not need all these services to prepare your case. For instance, you may just need a lawyer to help you draft a new agreement or to assist you in court. If this is the case, using Unbundled Legal Services can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

With Unbundled Legal Services, you can allocate specific duties to your lawyer and take on the rest of the work yourself. As a result, your legal fees may be as low as $500 to $1,500.

Unbundled Legal Services may not be the best solution for every case. If your custody battle is complicated, you will probably benefit from full representation. When using Unbundled Legal Services, the price for full legal representation can still be quite affordable. This is because we mainly cooperate with small law firms and individual attorneys. 

We can put you in touch with an unbundled lawyer from our network today so you can get a price quote and evaluate the potential costs of your custody case.

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