When a South Dakota married couple experiences unresolvable issues in their relationship, one or the other spouse might determine that it’s better to part ways than stay in an unhappy marriage. When children are involved, they must discuss many issues and achieve a divorce settlement that is fair and feasible for both parents. In some child custody cases, however, proceedings include one parent seeking sole legal and physical custody over the other. If you’re considering taking this route, you’ll want to be prepared to show just cause.
Demonstrating just cause when seeking sole child custody in a divorce means that you provide the court with a legitimate reason why your children would be better off in your sole custody than they might if you and your ex had a shared custody agreement. The average family court judge typically assumes that children fare best in a divorce when they maintain active relationships with both parents — unless there is a reason why they shouldn’t.
Are these child custody issues relevant in your divorce?
If you seek sole child custody in a family court, you must convince the judge that granting your request would be in the best interests of your children. The following list shows several reasons why judges have granted sole custody to South Dakota parents in past divorce cases:
- The other parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- There is evidence of child neglect or abuse.
- The other parent has received a mental illness diagnosis.
- The other parent is in jail.
- The other parent is moving to another state or country.
These are examples of issues that would demonstrate “just cause” for requesting sole child custody in a divorce. You might have another legitimate reason not shown in this list. The most important thing to remember is, whatever your reason is, you must be able to convince the court that sole custody would be better for your children than sharing custody with your former spouse.
Once the court issues a child custody order, parents must adhere to its terms
If the judge overseeing your case determines that granting sole child custody is best for your children, a court order will be issued. The court may incorporate specific terms of agreement. For example, the court order might become moot when your children reach age 18.
Both parents must adhere to the terms of agreement, unless and until the court modifies its order, which sometimes occurs if a parent files a petition to amend the terms. If you have sole custody, and your ex is disregarding a court order, you can (and probably should) bring the matter to the court’s attention.