In most cases, you have to assume that a judge is going to order 50-50 custody. Why? California presumes that both parents are equally able to care for their children and will do so unless there is evidence of abuse, drugs, violence or other threats to the children's lives.
As a parent who knows that your ex-spouse is living in less-than-ideal conditions and participating in a lifestyle that is hazardous to your children, your goal is to keep them out of that situation at all costs. However, doing so is not as easy as it may seem. You will need to gather significant evidence of your ex-spouse's behaviors and that they could be a threat to your children.
What are some pieces of evidence that could help your case?
There are many kinds of evidence that can be used to support your case, from videos of your ex-spouse attacking others to proof that they neglect your children. Here are some pieces of evidence you may want to collect:
- Evidence of drunk driving
- Evidence of drinking and driving with children in the vehicle
- Evidence of drug use or abuse
- Evidence of threatening behavior
- Proof of physical altercations
- Evidence of unfit living conditions
- Text messages, emails or other documents that are threatening in nature
Overall, your goal needs to be to gather as much evidence of your ex-spouse's negative behaviors as possible. If you are able to gather this evidence and use it to support seeking sole custody, then you will have a better chance of succeeding.
What should you do if you believe your children are in danger?
If they are currently in your care and you believe allowing them to go to the other parent's home will put them in danger, call your attorney and make sure you have the right documentation to withhold custody that day. You can seek emergency help from the police as well, especially if your ex-spouse appears intoxicated or is threatening when they come to pick up your children.
Overall, a court wants to do what is in the best interests of your children, whether that means they live with one or both parents. If you're worried about your children, the court is going to listen as long as you have the evidence to back up your claims. You can even ask for witness testimonies if you have people who have seen your ex's negative behaviors who are willing to speak to the judge.