If you are undergoing an angry divorce or ending of another relationship involving children, you may consider filing for sole custody so that you don't have to share parenting with your ex. Before making the decision to pursue full custody, you need to consider the financial and emotional aspects involved.

Two kinds of custody are referred to as sole custody. Sole legal custody means that one parent has full responsibility for any parenting decisions. Sole physical custody refers to the child living with one parent while generally having visitation with the other parent. You may want one or both of these types of custody.

The presumption in many courts is joint legal custody where both parents participate in decision making on behalf of their child. This is due, in part, to research that shows the noncustodial parents who are able to parent their child are less likely to become absentee parents. Parents have joint physical custody if the child splits living time evenly between the two parent's homes.

Before a court will grant sole custody, there needs to be evidence that the other parent is unfit. Usually the noncustodial parent is granted visitation, and there are requirements for the other parent to provide information on the child's life such as education, medical and religious concerns. Unless the other parent does not want to remain involved with the child, it is quite hard to convince a court to not allow a parent to see his or her child, even if there has been documented abuse to the child. A parent who is found to be unfit may be granted supervised visitation and given a court order to attend a treatment program with the eventual goal of increasing visitation and parental participation if the parent complies with the court's orders.

No custody case is ironclad. The court will base the custody decision on the best interests of the children. Unfortunately, the judge may not see the situation as you do.

There are some cases where a sole custody award would be possible. Sexual or physical abuse of a child could result in full custody being granted to the other parent. But, some parents make false accusations of abuse in order to gain custody. Knowing this, courts may require substantial evidence that abuse has occurred before awarding sole custody to the other parent. Unfortunately, there are cases where abuse accusations have been real, and judges awarded custody to the abusers because they thought that the accusing parent was malicious.

Incarceration of a parent is sometimes enough reason to give sole custody to the other parent, particularly if the sentence is for a long period. Mental illness or abuse of substances may also be cause to give full custody to the other parent.

A domestic violence history can sometimes be seen as reason to grant custody to the victimized parent. The court will be considering the effects on the children more than what acts were done to you. Some judges don't consider abuse of the mother to be sufficient reason to take away decision-making rights if the children were not involved or abused themselves.

If your ex does not see the children, you may have a chance to get sole custody. But, many exes suddenly decide they want to be involved when they receive court papers, which will more than likely result in joint legal custody.

Before filing for sole custody, think about the costs involved. From a financial perspective, your outlay could easily run into the tens of thousands. A long court fight is extremely stressful and could result in negative health effects for you. Your ex may use the children as weapons to get back at you which can cause emotional damage your kids. You may become the victim of violence from the ex or someone acting on his or her behalf. Some exes will even kidnap the children.

Even if you share joint legal custody with your ex, you may be able to get some protection from a violent or vindicative ex. Decision making authority could be split be areas such as one parent being responsible for school decision and the other parent being in charge of medical concerns. There are professionals called parenting coordinators that serve as the go between so that warring parents don't have to necessarily communicate with each other.

Think carefully before making a decision to file for sole custody. Unless you are in one of the situations described above where you have a good chance at winning full custody, the time and expense of a custody battle probably won't be worth it to you.

Author's Bio: 

Annie Parron has been single parenting for seven years. For other dating articles by Annie, visit The Single Parent Spot Co-parenting with someone who is mentally ill or a substance abuser? Visit Co-parenting Nightmare