What is the difference between Primary and Sole Custody?
Today’s topic is one that I get questions about quite often. A lot of people find confusion between different types of custody. Specifically, I want to cover the difference between primary physical custody and sole custody.
Primary Physical Custody:
In primary physical custody, one parent has the children the majority of the time and has more responsibility than the other party in taking care of the children. Primary physical custody is used when you have a shared joint physical custody case, meaning that both parents do have access to the children. Normally, one parent has primary time with the child and the other parent has visitation rights unless otherwise specified by the court due to extenuating circumstances that would prevent one parent from having visitations.
Normally speaking, a primary physical custody arrangement is when both parents have rights to the children but one parent spends more time with the children. The children generally would live with the primary custodian, and the non-custodial parent will have rights to visitations.
In a primary physical custody case, both parents may have rights to make decisions in regards to the children’s welfare, such as decisions relating to religion, medical care and education.
Sole custody is where one parent has the exclusive right to have physical and legal custody of the children. Basically this means that the parent with sole custody doesn’t have to discuss with the other parent before making any decisions related to the children. In a sole custody situation the children live only with the custodial parent. The custodial parent will have the right and the sole responsibility to make all the decisions for the children. Again this includes decisions such as religion, medical care, and education.
Sole custody is rarely awarded because judges believe that it is in the best interest of the children to have both parents involved in their lives. Therefore, the judges do whatever is necessary to make sure that both parents have equal time with their children. However, when it is awarded, sole custody is granted by the court when the court feels that giving access to a particular parent may not be in the child’s best interest. This could be due to substance abuse, child abuse, possibly the mental disposition of one of the parents, or other concerns.
If you are facing a custody battle, or would like to discuss modifying your custody agreement, give our office a call to discuss your specific situation at length. Our experienced family law attorneys can help explain your options and guide you through this often difficult situation. To reach our office, call (702) 998-1188, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply schedule a consultation online.