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When can a parent get sole custody in a North Carolina divorce?

Sharing custody with your ex isn’t fun, but it is a common outcome in North Carolina divorces. Making divorce as easy as possible for the children and upholding the rights of both parents is the focus of the courts in custody proceedings.

Sharing joint physical custody and sometimes legal custody or decision-making authority has become the default approach to parenting time after a divorce. However, there are some families that will not benefit from shared custody. When might you be able to get full custody in a North Carolina divorce?

If there is a history of abuse or neglect

Has your spouse left the children at home without a babysitter before or taken out their bad mood on family members? If the neighbors called the police because your children were unattended at home or they overheard a violent argument, there will likely be documentation about the history of violence and family.

Medical records, diaries, photographs of injuries and even statements by the therapists or social workers might help you show the court that your ex poses a risk to your children.

If your spouse has uncontrolled mental health or substance abuse issues

Drug addiction and alcoholism can make someone in to a worse parent than they would be otherwise. The same is true of a sudden flare-up with a mental health disorder. Addiction and mental health issues can keep a parent from providing for their children or behaving in a safe and appropriate manner. If you can show that your spouse’s condition keeps them from caring for the kids properly, the courts may reflect that in their custody order.

Barring situations where a parent’s involvement with the children puts them in danger, the only situation in which you can get full custody is when your ex doesn’t want their parental rights. Some parents do secure sole custody because the other parent simply doesn’t ask for parenting time or shared authority.

If you think that sole custody will keep your kids safe, it may be worth fighting for. For most other parents, the best approach may be to accept that co-parenting is the usual reality in contested custody proceedings.