When a North Carolina family law judge has to make a decision about custody in a pending divorce, their focus is on what will be best for the children in the family. For most households, the best interests standard will lead to the court splitting custody between the parents.
However, shared custody is not always what is best for the children. If your ex has a habit of becoming physically or emotionally abusive toward you or the children, how might they treat them when no one else is there to protect them? If you have valid concerns about domestic violence, your concerns could provide a reason to seek sole custody.
Physical and emotional safety are crucial to healthy development
Both parents in a shared custody arrangement need to be fully committed to the well-being of the children. Crossing the line between physical discipline and violence could do untold damage to your children. Someone who verbally berates, intimidates or manipulates their children could do damage as well.
If your children have been the targets of abuse in the past, any documentation you have of their injuries, such as hospital records, statements by medical professionals or cellphone photos can help show that your spouse is not currently capable of safely and effectively parenting your children.
Even if your spouse has lashed out at you and not the children, a history of abuse in front of kids could also sway the courts to limit someone’s parental rights.
Plan proactively to avoid alienation accusations
It is unfortunately common for those who abused their spouses and children to try to use the legal system to their own advantage.
Parental alienation involves one parent withholding access to the children from the other or poisoning the relationship between their ex and their kids. Perpetrators of domestic abuse feel sometimes claim alienation to try to punish their ex and possibly even get custody themselves.
Getting legal guidance during this process and avoiding emotional reactions, like texting your co-parent that they will never see their kids again because they come home with bruises, can go a long way toward protecting you from parental alienation claims if you pursue sole custody. Keeping yourself and your kids safe during and after the divorce will require courage and forethought on your part and also the help of an experienced family law attorney.