What Does Sole Custody Mean for the Other Parent?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

What Does Sole Custody Mean for the Other Parent?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

Sole custody usually means the other parent still has parental rights. When one parent is granted this by the court, that doesn't take away the other parent's right to be a part of their child's life. Courts do not grant sole custody unless there is a legitimate reason. The goal of the court is to keep the family unit as cohesive as possible.

Physical Custody

During divorce proceedings, the court will grant physical custody to one parent. Courts don't do this to punish the other parent but rather to ensure continuity in the life of your child. Generally, you need to show that your child is better off with you than your child's other parent. This can include evidence of:

  • Abuse or neglect
  • The other parent's inability to provide a stable home environment
  • You are more financially stable
  • You have a more flexible work schedule

The court may also grant sole physical custody of your child to you if your child's other parent agrees. While this is less common, it is a more equitable solution. The court is looking out for the best interests of your child. If you areĀ trying to get this, but the court thinks joint oversight of the child is more appropriate, then you will have to settle for that.

Legal Custody

Regardless of physical custody, both parents usually have joint legal responsibility of their child. Having legal authority gives you the ability to make decisions on behalf of your child, such as schooling, after school activities, religious beliefs, and medical decisions.

If, however, a court finds that it is in your child's best interest to make you the sole legal custodian as well, the court will do so. But as with granting sole physical responsibility, sole legal custody will require a great deal of evidence from you indicating that it is in your child's best interest.

Sole Custody

If the court awards you both physical and legal responsibility of your child, you will have sole custody. This means you need not consult with your child's other parent about where your child will live, attend school, etc. You are the sole decision maker.

When you are awarded this, your child's other parent will have visitation rights. Unless the court determines that your child's other parent is not fit, the court will award visitation so that your child can continue to develop a relationship with both parents. Courts generally deem this in the child's best interest.

The court will probably require your child's other parent to pay child support as well. This is not meant to provide you with additional money for yourself but instead is a means to help keep your child in the same financial position as if the family was still together.

Custody battles are emotional and draining. It might be difficult to see your child grow up without another parent. So long as that decision is in your child's best interest, however, rest well knowing your child is well cared for and protected.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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