My wife is mentally unstable and has no source of income. What do I need to do to get full custody of our two children?
I do not practice law in your state. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of your state and can only provide you with general tips on your situation.
In general there are two types of custody – legal custody and physical custody.
Specifically, legal custody (i.e. “Decision Making Ability”) requires that parents work together toward the best interests of their children regarding all major life decisions such as medical, education, religion, etc.
Legal custody entitles both parties equal access to records concerning the children and access to extracurricular and school event schedules, etc. Typically in the state where I practice, the presumption is legal custody will be joint absent one party being deemed unfit.
The second type of custody is known as physical custody. ( i.e. “Where your children actually live most of the time.”)
There are three options for physical custody: primary physical custody, joint physical custody and sole custody. Each state defines these types of custody differently.
However, to have sole physical custody means that only one parent has physical custody over the child, and that visitation would be at that parents’ discretion, or that very limited visitation would be granted by the court.
In the jurisdiction where I practice, the courts look at several factors when making an initial custody determination. The paramount consideration in determining custody however is the best interest of the child.
If you can establish a pattern of behavior on your wife’s part, and show the court that she is financial incapable of caring for the child or that her mental illness makes her unstable or a danger to the child this could be favorable to you in court.
However, it is unlikely that unless her financial condition is so poor that she cannot provide essentials that the court would severely limit her visitation rights.
Furthermore, where I practice, mental health conditions normally do not carry heavy weight unless it is a severe mental health issue that is not being treated or managed with medications.
However, prior to taking any action I recommend contacting a family law attorney in your jurisdiction to review the facts of your particular situation and advise you as to your best course of action.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on your situation, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your specific case.