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What Is Sole Custody?

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What Is Sole Custody?

Sole custody is a specific type of child custody arrangement in which only one parent is granted both physical and legal custody of the child. Sole custody is also called “full custody” in some jurisdictions.

A parent with sole custody is allowed full legal custody, which means that that parent will be responsible for making all major decision for the child. They are also granted full physical custody, which means that the child will always physically stay with that parent (although in some cases, some visitation may also be granted). 

Traditionally, child custody leaned more towards sole custody arrangements. Modernly, courts are beginning to encourage more shared custody arrangements where possible. However, sole custody is still awarded in instances where it is necessary or justified.

How Is Sole Custody Obtained?

Sole custody is often granted according to a judge’s recommendation, often in connection with a divorce or legal separation proceeding. It may also be obtained upon request by one of the parents. Additionally, sole custody can result if one parent intentionally gives up their rights to custody.

However, like all custody arrangements, sole custody is granted only if it is in the child’s best interests to do so. Some common situations where sole custody is granted may include:

  • One of the parents is considered unfit to raise or care for the child
  • One of the parents has a mental or physical disability that hinders their ability to have custody of the child
  • There is a risk of abuse/neglect of the child

What If I Have an Issue with the Current Custody Arrangement?

Child custody court orders are enforceable by law. Violating a child custody order can result in penalties. Thus, if one of the parties has any issues with a child custody arrangement, they should seek a remedy in a way that does not violate the current order.

This can be done by requesting to modify the child custody order. Termination of parental rights may also be an option, especially if there are issues involving neglect or abuse of the child.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Sole Custody Issues?

Filing for sole custody or full custody is a major decision that can affect the child’s upbringing in many ways. It is in your best interests to hire a family law attorney if you need assistance with any types of child custody requests or petitions. A qualified lawyer in your area can go over the options to ensure that the child’s best interests are being met. Also, your attorney can provide legal representation during court meetings and hearings.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 07-16-2014 08:58 AM PDT

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