Sole Custody Agreements
You can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans for custody agreements. You make each part of your agreement, and then you can print professional documents of your plan.
There are two types of custody: Legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody is a parent's right to make decisions regarding matters of importance in the child's life, such as the child's medical care, education, religious upbringing, and moral development.
Physical custody pertains to where the child lives and the actual physical care of the child. Decisions regarding the day to day care of the child are typically made by each parent when the child is in their care.
If a parent has sole legal custody, he or she is able to make all of the major decisions regarding the child without consulting the other parent.
If a parent has sole physical custody, the child will live with that parent full-time but will usually have reasonable visitation with the other parent unless the court finds that would not be in the child's best interest.
You can use Custody X Change to create both joint and sole custody agreements. Custody X Change enables you to create professional custody documents that include everything you need to create a custody plan to present to the court.
Most courts find that children benefit from being able to spend time with both parents. Some courts even have a preference to award joint custody. However, joint custody is not always appropriate for every situation and there are reasons sole custody would be in the best interest of a child:
ABUSE: If a parent has a history of violence or sexual abuse and has been abusive to the child (or any child) or the other parent, this presents an obvious danger to the child. A child should be protected from physical harm.
NEGLECT: If a parent has a history of neglecting the child, it is likely this neglect would continue in the future. Neglect is the failure to provide a child with necessary dental care, medical care, proper supervision, adequate food, appropriate clothing, shelter, and any other safeguards that protect the child's physical and emotional well-being.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE: A parent who engages in substance or alcohol abuse presents a danger to the child. The altered mental state that occurs as a result of substance abuse prohibits the parent from being able to properly care for the child.
MENTAL ILLNESS: A child should be protected from a parent who is mentally unstable and exhibits irrational and unpredictable behavior that may endanger the child. For example, a child should never be left with a suicidal parent, for obvious reasons.
These are extreme circumstances. If you need to get sole custody in an effort to protect your child from the other parent, you should be prepared to provide proof of any allegations brought before the court.
When you use Custody X Change to create a parenting plan, you will be able to include stipulations to protect your child, such as forbidding the other parent to drink alcohol in the child's presence or exchanging the child in a neutral, public location.
There are other reasons for obtaining sole custody besides protecting a child from physical harm:
ABANDONMENT: Sometimes parents are unable or unwilling to take care of their child. If a parent has shown little or no interest in the child and has failed to maintain contact with the child, you may want to get sole custody in order to protect your child's best interests.
Obtaining sole custody when the parent is absent will protect your child if the parent, a virtual stranger, decides to resurface years in the future and take custody.
INCARCERATION: If a parent is in prison, they are not going to be able to provide a home or care for the child. If you feel it would be in your child's best interest, you may want to seek sole custody that will secure your custodial status now and offer the incarcerated parent reasonable (if appropriate) visitation in the future.
Occasionally, parents take their children to visit incarcerated parents in prison. You should not feel obligated to do this if you feel it will cause your child emotional harm.
RELOCATION: If a parent plans on moving out of the state or country, some parents feel it would be better if one parent was granted sole custody.
The chances of getting sole custody vary greatly and are dependent upon the circumstances of each case.
If you and your ex are able to agree on sole custody, you can present your agreement to the court and the judge will typically approve it.
If the other parent is unwilling to come to court and does not protest the custody, the lack of interest will typically compel a judge to award sole custody.
If the other parent decides to fight for custody, you may face a long battle. If you want sole custody in order to protect your child, you will need to prove to the court that the other parent is a danger to your child.
You should keep in mind that most parents who have sole custody of their children still have to allow the other parent to have reasonable visitation with the child. You can try to get supervised visitation if you feel that would be best for your child.
Regardless of the reason you would like to obtain sole custody of your child, it should be done in the child's best interests in an effort to protect the child, not to deprive the other parent.
You can use Custody X Change to create a reasonable visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. You can also use Custody X Change to keep track of what actually happens and record any missed visits.