Most divorcing spouses enter their divorce proceedings with solid goals regarding child custody. Many parents in Washington opt to pursue sole custody of their children at the outset of the proceedings, but although this is a common approach, it isn't always a well-informed one.
Many divorcing spouses fail to fully realize how a divorce will affect their routine and their parenting, regardless of what type of child custody arrangement is made. The process of choosing a custody arrangement is hard enough on its own, but it gets more complicated when your decision is brought to your soon-to-be ex, as well as in front of a family court judge.
While sole custody can provide more freedom to the parent, making it easier for them to make decisions for the family without consulting the other parent, it isn't always the best one for the children. That, ultimately, is the most important consideration of the court. A judge will try to determine your motives for seeking sole custody, whether they are warranted -- for example, if you are trying to protect your child from harm's way -- or if you are merely being vindictive and combative.
Parents should understand that sole custody isn't the only option, and giving up full-time parenting doesn't mean you will lose your children. Split custody, joint custody and other parenting arrangements can provide flexibility to both sides without compromising the upbringing of the children and their ability to develop relationships with both parents.
And while the sole custodial parent has traditionally had more time with their children, that trend is changing, showing that joint custody can provide more parenting time.
Ultimately, the decision is one that must be reached and agreed to by all parties, including the judge. In most cases, the best situation is one that provides the greatest amount of parenting time for both parents. Whatever the arrangement, it will be one made in the best interests of the children, not the parents.
Source: Huffington Post, "How To Divorce: How Can I Get Full Custody Of The Kids?" May 1, 2012