For divorcing couples who share children, the custody arrangements for those kids will often be the most hotly contested issue. Both parents will want to protect their relationship with the children, which could potentially lead to a custody battle.

However, for most families, no matter how much the parents fight, the courts will still expect them to share custody of their children to one degree or another. There are only a few exceptions to this rule, and they generally involve either extreme family circumstances or just interest on the part of one parent.

You can seek sole custody in cases of abuse, neglect and even addiction

Couples get divorced for all different reasons, but abuse remains one of the leading causes. If your spouse abused you or your children, presenting the court with documentation of this toxic behavior could be sufficient reason for the court to award you with sole custody of the children, as the best interests of the kids will determine how the courts rule.

Additionally, if your ex has a history of drug addiction, if they are currently incarcerated or if they have a very unstable life situation right now, those could all be reasons for the courts to give you custody and have your ex visit the children. In some cases, like abuse and addiction, the courts may order supervised visitation for the safety of the children involved. Barring these extreme scenarios, it is unusual for the court to award sole custody when both parents want to stay involved.

It is surprisingly common for one parent not to seek shared custody

While preserving your relationship with your children may be the most critical consideration in your divorce, the same isn’t always true for all parents. One of the most common reasons that one parent winds up with sole custody or primary custody while the old other parent gets visitation is that they didn’t ask for shared custody.

Some people have very busy jobs that could preclude them from fulfilling the obligations of a custodial parent, while others may not seek their full parental rights for a range of reasons, from depression to inaccurate assumptions about biases in the court system.

For some couples, sole custody is the best outcome for everyone in the family. For most families, however, shared custody solutions will be the most likely results of divorce proceedings in California.