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Want Full Custody of Your Children? Think Again!

Divorce is a complex and emotional process, especially when children are involved. One of the most contentious issues during a divorce is child custody. Many parents believe they can obtain “full custody” of their children simply because they perceive the other parent as “bad” or unfit. However, the reality is that courts rarely grant full custody unless there are clear signs of abuse. 

Parents need to understand that custody battles can be emotionally draining and costly. While it is natural to want to protect one’s children, it is crucial to approach custody decisions with a level head and a focus on what is best for the child. This may mean compromising with the other parent and developing a custody arrangement for everyone. 

So, if you think you deserve full custody, that isn’t enough. Here is what some of our attorneys say when potential clients ask about receiving full custody. 

Hear What Our Attorneys Have To Say About It

Insights From Our
Colorado Family Lawyers

divorce lawyer

Craig Valentine
Managing Partner
Colorado Springs, CO

Full custody isn’t something Colorado often does. It is very rare, even in extreme cases. An experienced attorney will figure out what a judge is likely to order and what is in the kids’ best interest for parenting time.

Colorado Springs Senior Attorney Chelsea Hillman

Chelsea Hillman
Senior Attorney
Colorado Springs, CO

I first ask people what they ‘mean’ when they say full custody. More often than not, I find that the parent doesn’t actually want to ice the other parent out completely — but wants reasonable safety provisions (like not drinking/smoking marijuana during parenting), and those are easily achievable with safety provisions built into the parenting plan. Many people in Colorado think ‘full custody’ is ‘primary custody.’ So an explanation of primary parent and secondary parent usually occurs with that person stating that’s what they’d prefer more than full custody. Colorado feels very strongly about 50/50 parenting time, and I try to suggest safety provisions that become legally enforceable and subject to sanctions if anything isn’t respected.

Denver family lawyer

Andy Kemmer
Associate Attorney
Denver, CO

Parenting time is what people traditionally think of as ‘custody,’ and decision-making essentially determines if the parents must agree on important decisions regarding the child before moving forward on things like education, healthcare, and religion, for example. Regardless, getting ‘full custody’ is tough. Barring relatively extreme circumstances, the court wants both parents to be involved in the child’s life.

Fort Collins child support attorneys

Jessica Breckenridge
Associate Attorney
Fort Collins, CO

Colorado begins with the basis that parents have the fundamental right to parent their children, which makes the baseline 50/50 custody. Of course, there are situations where 50/50 custody is not in the best interest of the child(ren). Courts do not take it lightly when asked to restrict a parent’s fundamental right significantly. Showing a parent is a danger to a child does not have a specific formula. However, things that are considered can be whether a parent has an addiction to a substance that makes it impossible for them to care for a child effectively. Things like domestic violence, driving under the influence with a child, history of child abuse or neglect, child abandonment, history of child sexual abuse, or significant mental health conditions can also prevent a parent from caring for a child.

Insights From Our
California Managing Attorney

Elizabeth Voorhees San Jose Managing Attorney

Elizabeth Voorhees
Managing Attorney
San Jose, CA

When parents tell me they want full custody of their children, I ask questions about any domestic violence in the relationship or abuse of the children. If they just don’t think the other parent is a “good” parent, I remind them that the person may not be the parent their children deserve, but s/he is the parent they have. California’s presumption in favor of joint custody is so strong that courts will order it 9 times out of 10 unless there has been severe abuse. ”

Insights From Our
Texas Family Lawyers

Austin Family Lawyer Erica Larson

Erica Larson
Associate Attorney
Austin, TX

Texas law places significant importance on having both parents have access to the child to promote close relationships with them. Unless a spouse has child abuse convictions regarding the children, a spouse will have some visitation rights. A parent can only fight for the most decision-making power regarding their child’s residence, medical, educational, and other important decisions.

Chris Villarreal

Chris Villarreal
Senior Attorney
Austin, CA

“By default, a child has two parents, meaning that two parents automatically have the right to spend time with the child and make decisions regarding the child, and two parents must support and care for the child.  When getting these rights and duties on papers in a divorce or custody dispute, the law strongly presumes that the parents should be “joint managing conservators,” meaning they both have significant decision-making rights and visitation time with the child.  A lot of the time, when a parent says they want “full custody,” what they mean is that they want to be the parent who designates where the child primarily lives and goes to school.  After talking for a few moments with a parent asking for “full custody,” I usually find out that they are okay with the other parent having visitation and certain decision-making rights and that they really want to be the “primary conservator.”  It is common for one parent to be the “primary conservator” who designates where the child lives and therefore attends school.  However, it is far less common for a parent’s rights and periods of visitation to be terminated or considerably limited.  In determining whether to give one parent sole decision-making rights and restricting or denying one parent visitation time, courts are going to consider factors like a history of violence, threats of violence, substance abuse, abandonment, etc.  If a parent wants to be in the child’s life and does not pose a legitimate safety concern, the court will appoint both parents as joint managing conservators.  It is up to the parent requesting “full custody” to prove that the other parent’s rights should be restricted, which can often be an uphill battle.  Talk to an attorney about the facts of your case to help figure out what is best for you and your child. ”

The misnomer of full custody during a divorce is a common misconception among parents. While some may believe that they can obtain full custody simply because they perceive the other parent to be “bad,” the reality is that courts rarely grant full custody situations unless there are clear signs of abuse. Parents must approach custody decisions focusing on the child’s best interests rather than their desires or emotions. All the best! 

So, if you think you deserve full custody, that isn’t enough. Here is what some of our attorneys say when potential clients ask about receiving full custody. 

Modern Family Law

Modern Family Law’s team of experienced family law attorneys takes a compassionate approach to the practice of family law. Using innovative technology to create an effective and efficient process for our clientele, our attorneys approach each case as a collective effort to find the best long-term solutions for each family. Our attorneys currently practice in Colorado, California, and Texas. Click the following link to view all of our family law locations. For more information please give us a call or fill out a short form online to sign up for a free consultation today! Let us make a positive difference in your life.

By: MFL Team

Posted March 13, 2024

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