Divorce is a difficult life event. However, it can mean more than just a failed marriage. It could mean the splitting of a family. When children are involved, it is important to think about what is best for the child. No two families are alike, and the needs of each parent and child are different. In matters where domestic violence was present or there are safety concerns, joint custody may not be the most suitable. In these situations, seeking sole custody may be in the best interests of the child.
While it is not as common, sole custody is often sought in matters that involve domestic violence, child abuse or substance abuse problems. Unlike joint custody where each parent has legal and physical custody of the child, sole custody awards both legal and physical custody to one parent while the non-custodial parent has neither legal nor physical custodial rights of the child.
Sole legal custody means that one parent has the rights and responsibility to make major decisions regarding the child's welfare. This commonly includes decisions regarding education, medical care, religion and emotional and moral development. On the other hand, sole physical custody means that the child will reside and be under the supervision of just one parent. However, in these cases, the non-custodial parent may be able to obtain reasonable visitation with the child so long as it is in the best interests of the child.
Child custody matters can look very different from one family to the next. In some cases, parents can work together to reach a fair agreement. In other cases, disputes arise. No matter the situation or if you seek joint or sole custody, it is important to be aware of your rights and what steps you can take to protect them and the interests of your child.