We are not married, but my name is on the birth certificate. I want sole child custody because she has a history of mental illnesses and frequently abuses drugs.
How much proof of her substance abuse and mental problems do I need in order to gain custody of my children?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Missouri divorce laws where I am temporarily permitted to practice.
A parent with “sole custody” of a child normally has exclusive physical and legal custody rights concerning the child. However, such an arrangement is usually limited to situations in which one parent has been deemed by the court as unfit or incapable of having any form of responsibility over a child, i.e., due to drug addiction or evidence of child abuse.
While the non-custodial parent may have no legal or physical custody rights, they may be entitled to either supervised or unsupervised visitation, depending upon the gravity of the circumstances (i.e. the sobriety and mental fitness of the non-custodial parent, etc.).
Please be advised that the specific visitation arrangement that a court would make in your case is certainly dependent upon numerous factors and cannot be predicted at this time.
Since drug addiction of the mother appears to be a factor in your case, a Missouri court considering a parenting time arrangement has the discretion to order drug tests and mental evaluations as well as consider any additional evidence your son may have related to the mother’s alleged mental unfitness/history of drug abuse.
Unfortunately, there is no “bright line” rule in Missouri regarding the type of evidence that a court may consider, as it is in the court’s full and complete discretion to consider all of the facts presented in the case, including the mother’s.
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While there is no likelihood of success, the more concrete factual evidence that you are able to present to the court, the better chance you have of obtaining a more favorable child custody outcome.
Additionally, it is likely in your case that a court will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem who will work directly with your children to determine what is in their best interests regarding custody, etc.
GALs are helpful because they are able to conduct their own independent investigation as to the fitness of the children’s mother, which is ultimately presented to and considered by the court in determining the appropriate custodial arrangement.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a mens divorce attorney in your jurisdiction.
To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Jennifer de Lyon Stralka, an associate attorney in the St. Louis office, contact Cordell & Cordell Law Firm.