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When does a South Dakota court grant sole child custody?

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2022 | Child Custody |

Like all South Dakota parents, one of your primary duties is to protect the safety and well-being of your children. If you believe a particular situation is placing a child at risk, you do what you can to protect him or her. Sometimes, such as when you are navigating child custody proceedings, you and your co-parent might disagree about what’s best for your kids, in which case, a family court judge can intervene to make a decision on your behalf.  

Most family court judges believe that children are better able to cope with divorce when they maintain active relationships with both parents. However, in certain circumstances, it is better to grant one parent sole child custody. If you’re considering requesting sole custody of your children in a divorce, you must be prepared to present the reasons for your request, which will hopefully convince the court to rule in your favor.  

Other parent shows no interest and does not participate in children’s lives 

If you have always been the primary caretaker of your children, and your ex has never shown interest in their lives, it makes sense that you would seek sole child custody in a divorce. You might reason that, since your ex has never helped provide daily care or attention to the kids during marriage, you do not expect this attitude to change after finalizing your divorce. 

Does your ex have a substance abuse problem? 

Being exposed to the misuse of drugs or alcohol is definitely a safety risk to children. If you have evidence that your ex has a substance abuse problem, you can cite it as evidence in court as to why you believe that sole custody would be most beneficial for your children. In such cases, a judge might grant sole custody and may even order the other parent to enter a rehabilitation program, if he or she hopes to gain custody in the future.  

A parent must be mentally fit for custody 

If your ex has a mental illness, it is also a legitimate reason for seeking sole physical and legal custody of your children in a divorce. If a parent is diagnosed with a mental illness, it may constitute unfitness. The court can determine whether sole custody should be a temporary or permanent condition.  

The court always keeps children’s best interests in mind 

When you enter child custody proceedings in a South Dakota divorce, the judge overseeing your case will keep your children’s safety and well-being in mind when making decisions regarding where they should live and who should have decision-making authority in their lives. If you believe that gaining sole custody would be the best arrangement for your children, you may file a petition to request it.