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Is sole custody best for your child?

If you and your child's other parent have decided to split, you likely have many questions and concerns about the future. Most pressing may be the worries about how the split will affect your child. Your desire may be to provide the most stable and stress-free environment possible following the breakup, but does this mean seeking sole custody of the child?

Custody, or parenting time, typically refers to the time when the child is physically with you. Often, parents can work out a fair arrangement on their own, but sometimes they ask the court to intervene. While you may agree that your ex should have a generous amount of access to the child, you may wonder if it is best for the child if you petition for primary physical custody.

The pros and cons of sole custody

Fortunately for many children of loving parents, the courts most often seek to divide parenting time as evenly as possible between the two parents. Still, about 25% of minors live with one parent, typically the mother, and see the other parent during regular, scheduled visitation times. If this is the arrangement you are seeking, you may recognize the benefits. Your child will have minimal disruption to his or her routine, remain connected to friends and avoid the stress of frequently packing belongings to stay with the other parent.

However, it is important to recognize the downside of sole custody, including the following:

  • Visitation is seldom as effective as shared parenting time for maintaining a strong bond with both parents.
  • Your child (and your ex) may suffer because of the loss of time together.
  • You may find it a challenge to meet all the responsibilities of parenting on your own.
  • Your child may interpret the court's decision to grant you sole custody as a judgment against the other parent.
  • Your ex may find it difficult to maintain discipline or to teach responsibility when time with the child is limited.

If you are planning to petition for sole custody of your child or to limit the parenting time of your ex, the court will likely want to see evidence that this arrangement will be in the best interests of the child. As challenging as it may be to think about maintaining a schedule that divides parenting time with your ex, you would be wise to discuss with your North Dakota attorney the options that are most beneficial for you and for the child you love.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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