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You're absolutely convinced that your ex is a terrible parent and that the kids would be far better off in your physical care most (or all) of the time. It only seems reasonable to ask the court for sole physical custody.

Before you do that, however, take a moment to make sure that you understand what the court will take into consideration when reviewing your request. You and your ex may have vastly different philosophies about life and approaches to parenting -- but that isn't likely to concern a judge.

Custody is decided based on whatever is in the "best interests of the child," and there's an overwhelming presumption that that usually means "having roughly equal involvement in their lives by both parents." When deciding a custody issue, judges in California will often consider:

  • The child's age
  • Any health factors the child may have
  • The existing emotional ties between the child and each parent
  • Each parent's ability to meet the child's emotional, physical and financial needs
  • Any history of domestic violence by either party
  • Any evidence that either party has a substance abuse disorder
  • Any involvement by child welfare authorities due to a parent's neglect or other problems
  • A child's existing ties to their school, community and social groups (and how those might be affected by a custody change)

Asking for solo custody of the children isn't hard -- but getting it can be. Make sure that you understand exactly what the court will consider when making that decision, and talk over your situation with an attorney who can help you understand both the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

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