In general, courts prefer to split custody evenly between two parents. However, in many cases, this is either not possible or is in conflict with the wishes of one or both parents. If you or your child’s other parent plan to seek sole custody, it is important to understand what that actually means, and what it does not.
Sole custody actually involves two separate components. A parent may either obtain sole legal custody, or sole physical custody or sometimes both. When a parent enjoys sole legal custody, this means that parent has the final say in any legal or practical disagreements about the upbringing of the child. For instance, this parent may choose what type of school the child attends, what the child eats, faith practices the child participates in or which medical procedures the child undergoes.
In contrast, a parent who enjoys sole physical custody of a child has the right to determine where the child lives. Such a parent may even have significant control over whether the other parent may spend time with the child at all. It is far more likely that a single parent might receive a single type of sole custody than both, but awarding sole physical and legal custody to one parent does happen in some instances.
If you anticipate a difficult custody dispute, and especially if you hope to seek a form of sole custody, an attorney can provide more information. With proper legal counsel, you can understand the full scope of your dispute and build strong strategies for protecting your rights and achieving your custody priorities.
Source: Findlaw, “Sole Custody,” accessed Nov. 03, 2017