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Grounds for Full Child Custody

March 12, 2020 — by John Conger
Tags: Child Custody

Child holding a small block houseWhen a divorcing couple has children, a child custody judgement must be made. Child custody refers to where a child will live, and which parent(s) has a say in decisions regarding how the child is raised and cared for.

A child custody attorney works to obtain a custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. In most cases, the court agrees that a child should have access to both parents. However, there are grounds for full child custody. If certain circumstances are met, the attorneys at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley LLP will fight to get their Stockton, CA, and Walnut Creek, CA, clients full physical and legal custody of their child.


The well-being of the child is of the utmost importance when making a child custody arrangement. If one parent has a history of abusive behavior, it can be demonstrated that they threaten the child’s physical safety or mental health. Abuse can include physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, or sexual abuse. The abuse does not have to be directed at the child. A history of domestic abuse can also be grounds for full child custody.

Substance Abuse

Drugs and alcohol alter a person’s state of mind and can render them incapable of safely caring for their child. Therefore, anyone who abuses drugs or alcohol is likely to pose a threat to the child. Evidence of active substance abuse can be cause for our clients to seek sole child custody.


If a parent has neglected a child in the past, they are likely to continue to do so in the future. If one parent can demonstrate that the other has been neglectful, they have a good case for full child custody. Examples of child neglect include failing to provide the child with appropriate clothes, sufficient food, required medicine, shelter, adequate supervision, medical or dental care, or other necessities.

Mental Instability

A parent needs to be mentally stable to make the daily decisions that are part of a child’s care. If one parent suffers from a mental illness that makes them irrational or unpredictable, or if they have exhibited suicidal thoughts or behavior, it can be argued that they will not provide a safe and stable environment for the child.

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation, or abandonment, is also grounds for full child custody. Parental alienation refers to situations where one parent leaves the child and fails to maintain contact. Although it may seem unnecessary for our Stockton clients to seek sole child custody in cases such as these, it is important that the parent who maintains custody has a court order so that they are protected if the alienated parent tries to reenter the child’s life further down the road.


If one parent plans to move out of state, he or she may seek full child custody so that the child is not forced to travel back and forth. Relocation may sometimes be viewed as acceptable grounds for full child custody, but if there are no other reasons to grant sole custody it is more likely that the court will create a joint custody arrangement that works with the relocation.

Learn More

If you are heading for divorce and would like to find out if you have a case for full child custody, the family law attorneys at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP are happy to answer any questions you may have. To discuss your case in further detail, send us a message online or call (209) 477-8171.