When Can Parental Responsibility be Allocated to One Parent?

Posted on in Divorce

In most circumstances, it is in the best interests of a child’s parents to share the allocation of parental responsibility (formerly known as child custody) following divorce. This is a “two hands are better than one” philosophy, with former spouses, even after divorce, working to share resources and balance work and family responsibilities in a way that supports the child’s education, health, and well-being every bit as much as if the parents were still married and living together.

Parental responsibility is typically shared when a divorce is as harmonious as can be expected, with parents collaborating to create a parenting plan in compliance with state law, and sometimes even when a divorce is filled with acrimony and collaboration is difficult. There are, however, some circumstances in which it is in the best interests of the child for parental responsibility to be solely allocated to one parent.

A History of Violence, Abuse, or Neglect Is Relevant to Child Custody

With the “best interests of the child” being paramount in the allocation of parental responsibility, it is important to identify certain behaviors that are not in the best interests of the child. Among these behaviors – all factors at issue in a family court judge’s consideration of custody-related matters – are:

  • Violence and abuse, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse – If one parent has subjected the child to domestic violence or abuse, whether it be an isolated instance or a pattern of repeated incidents, such facts are relevant to the court’s consideration (to be weighed against the abusive parent).
  • Neglect – This may be more difficult to identify and prove in court. While it can sometimes be quite clear (as when a child suffers from malnutrition or does not have adequate clothing), other times, it may be more difficult to identify (e.g., in areas of the child’s emotional well-being and development).
  • Criminal history – This is especially relevant with regard to drug addiction – a blight that may result in a parent’s drug dependencies taking precedence over the child’s best interests.
  • Capacity – This is relevant if a parent becomes unable to care for their child or participate in decision-making due to health reasons, whether physical or mental.

Taking All Relevant Facts Into Consideration

As a parent, you have the right to direct education and upbringing of your child. If facts exist to support an allocation of parental responsibility exclusively in your favor, the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC will identify them, present them in court, and advocate for your rights and the best interests of your child. Contact a West Chicago divorce lawyer today by calling 630-836-8540 to schedule a free consultation.