From the start of your divorce, you may have known that your spouse was not going to make the ordeal easy for you. In fact, you anticipated a child custody battle because of the way your relationship ended. However, you did not know just how far the other parent would go to keep you from the children.
Because you and the other parent could not come to an agreement regarding child custody together, the court had to play a role. You may have been fine with the idea of joint custody because you understand the importance of your children having relationships with both parents. What you did not expect, though, was for your spouse to petition for not only sole physical custody but also sole legal custody.
What could this mean?
Legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make important decisions on behalf of a child, such as decisions regarding health care, education and religion, among others. Often, parents maintain joint legal custody even if the court awards one parent sole physical custody. If your soon-to-be ex-spouse wants sole legal custody, it means that he or she does not want you to have any decision-making authority for your kids.
You likely do not want this outcome for a number of reasons, but you may still need to present your case to the court as to why awarding the other parent sole custody could be detrimental for the kids. You could argue that the other parent may not make good decisions due to being overwhelmed by the responsibility or that your relationship with the children would suffer because you would have so little input in their lives. The children themselves may also suffer from a lack of multiple parental perspectives.
What can you do?
You certainly want to maintain an active role in your children’s lives, and your enthusiasm to maintain your parental rights may help your case in court. If the other parent does not have a valid reason to obtain sole legal custody, the court will likely not rule in his or her favor.
However, that does not mean that you do not need to prepare for all possible scenarios. Discussing this issue with your North Dakota legal counsel could allow you to understand your options and how to best handle this ordeal.