You and your ex have been divorced or broken up for a few years, and since then, your ex had primary custody of your children. This could have been for any of many reasons. For example, perhaps you were dealing with a serious addiction, lived far away or felt that your ex was in a better financial position. It could also have been that you felt guilty for the breakup or that your ex would pull a no-holds-barred fight if you tried for joint custody.
Whatever your reasons, the children have mainly been with their other parent, and you feel it would be in their best interests now for you to have joint custody. Is that possible? Yes, in some situations, it can be.
If a change triggered the move
Your chances of getting joint custody may be better if a change triggered your decision. Maybe your ex received a DUI conviction, you moved back to your children's town or your children are older now and want to be with you more. Maybe your ex's emotions have calmed, and he or she no longer seems out for revenge. A lawyer can help clarify the issues in your case and develop a plan for going forward.
If you miss your children
On the other hand, if you want joint custody because you miss your children and feel like you could be a better parent now than you used to be, then getting joint custody could be more of an uphill climb. For example, your ex could argue that there is no way to tell if you will change your mind a month or a year later about joint custody. He or she could say that it is in the children's best interests to keep them in the home they have known for several years.
Fortunately, some co-parents recognize that it is best for children to have both parents be involved as much as possible in their lives. They might be open to drawing up a new legal agreement without having to fight it out in court.