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Sole custody is when one parent gets full legal and/or physical custody of the children from a dissolving marriage or relationship and the other parent is denied that custody. Sole custody will be awarded to one parent when the family court determines that such an arrangement is in the best interest of the children involved. Depending on the case, sole custody may be in the best interest of the parents or it may not. Sole custody arrangements may also be the consequence of a domestic violence situation or some other circumstance where one parent is denied custody in the interests of the child's welfare.
There are two types of custody recognized in the family law system: legal custody and physical custody. When a parent is granted legal sole custody they will have exclusive discretion in making major decisions that will affect the child's life. These decisions can involve anything that affects the child's life such as health care, child care, education, extracurricular activities, religion, and more. It is possible for one parent to have sole custody in the legal aspect but share physical custody.
Physical custody determines who the child will live with and with whom they will spend their time. Sole custody in the physical aspect means that the child would life with the custodial parent and the other would not have any custody rights. With joint physical custody the child may live with both parents or will live with only one parent. In joint custody cases where one parent has primary custody the other will be given child visitation rights. Child visitation rights allow the non custodial parent to take physical custody of the child at specified times, such as every other weekend or certain holidays.
One parent may be given physical sole custody in the best interests of the children. The court generally prefers to award some type of shared custody to allow both parents to participate in the child's life. There are circumstances, however, when this arrangement is not in the best interest of the child. One parent may be awarded sole custody when the other parent poses a potential threat to the child's welfare. These dangers can include: a history of violence and destructive behavior, drug and/or alcohol abuse, threatening to take the child away, history of placing the child in dangerous situations, and more. In sole custody situations where the other parent is denied custody on these grounds, the court may grant child visitation that is proctored by a neutral third party adult.
Custody is never granted on a permanent basis and can be modified at the discretion of the family court. If one parent is dissatisfied with a sole custody arrangement they may petition the court with the help of a legal professional for a change in the child custody arrangement. Parents who have previously been denied custody may have options that allow them to be reconsidered for custody rights. Other family members, such as grandparents, may also petition the court for visitation rights in sole custody cases.
If you would like to learn more about sole custody, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced family law attorney in your area. A caring and competent legal professional can evaluate your case to determine how best to protect and maximize your legal interests.
More information on custody:
Child custody rights may be shared by both parents or, primary child custody rights may be awarded to one parent or legal guardian. Since the 1970s the family court will award child custody rights contingent with the best interests of the child.
Child custody for fathers following a divorce is one of the most important aspects of a dissolving marriage. Throughout history the legal presumptions about child custody for fathers has changed significantly. Before the twentieth century children were regarded as the property of their father. Under common law, child custody for fathers was commonly awarded, as children were considered a father's rightful property. A major shift occurred after this period in history, as family courts came to favor mothers in child custody cases. It was presumed that under normal circumstances, children did better when placed in the sole custody of their mothers.