Most children benefit from joint custody arrangements when their parents get divorced. But as you and your spouse split up, you may worry that such a plan is not in your children’s best interests. Your divorce may stem from your spouse’s conduct, and you might fear that it may harm or negatively influence your kids. Depending on their behavior, you may want to consider pursuing sole custody. Before doing so, you must acknowledge the circumstances where this arrangement makes sense.
How conduct affects custody
In Delaware, a parent’s marital conduct only factors into custody decisions if it impacts their children. While your spouse’s conduct may have broken up your marriage, it may not have affected your kids. Despite their mistakes, they may be a fit and devoted parent that your children would benefit from having around.
Yet, your spouse’s behavior may have affected their relationship with your children. Or, it may have harmed them directly. In these circumstances, your spouse’s conduct could impact your custody ruling if:
- They have a history of substance abuse
- They have a history of child abuse or neglect
- They have a history of criminal activity
- They have a serious mental illness
- They are unable to provide for your children’s basic needs
Protecting your children
If a court deems that your spouse’s conduct affects their parenting ability, you will likely receive sole legal and physical custody of your children. Your spouse might receive visitation rights. But these will likely face limitations or require supervision. Yet, their behavior may prove alarming enough that you will not want them around your children at all. So long as evidence supports your concerns, your spouse may lose visitation rights altogether. In extreme cases, their parental rights could face involuntary termination.
Even if you had hoped to share custody with your spouse, you must do everything in your power to protect your children. If you fear your spouse’s conduct will harm them, an attorney can help you work toward an outcome that prioritizes your kids’ safety.