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Child Custody | Family

What is the Difference Between Joint and Sole Custody?

3 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

Joint custody is a legal arrangement in which parents share physical and legal custody of their children. This means that each parent has equal responsibility for making decisions relating to the upbringing and care of their children, including educational, medical care, and religious choices. 

On the other hand, sole legal custody is a legal arrangement in which a custodial parent makes decisions regarding the child’s welfare, such as the upbringing and care of their children. The custodial parent with sole custody can make decisions independently without the other parent.

Joint Legal Custody & Shared Parenting

Child custody and visitation rights are legal terms used to describe a court order outlining how much time the child will spend with each parent. Joint legal custody means dividing parenting responsibilities equally between parents, regardless of where the child lives or the parents’ marital status. Joint legal custody enables divorced or separated parents to work together in making decisions about their children’s upbringing, such as educational, religious, and medical choices.

Joint Custody Arrangement

Shared custody arrangements are an increasingly popular alternative to traditional parenting plans. When two parents cannot agree on how to raise their children, dividing parental rights and responsibilities between the two may be in the child’s best interest rather than having one parent shoulder all of the burden.

Joint legal custody arrangements give both parents equal rights and responsibilities in raising the children. The parents must agree on major decisions, such as where the children will attend school and which medical treatments they will receive.

Sole Custody Arrangement

Sole legal custody means that one parent has been awarded sole custody and can decide on the child’s well-being. The non-custodial parent will have a right to parent-time with their child, depending on the parent’s custody rights as determined by the court.

Sole Physical Custody

Sole physical custody refers to a parent with the child’s physical custody. In sole physical custody, a child resides with one parent. Sole physical custody should not imply that the other partner loses the right to see the child; instead, it simply means that one party has primary responsibility for life decisions related to raising their child. The custodial parent must prepare for litigation if the other parent is contesting custody.

What Does Sole Legal And Physical Custody Refer To?

Determining the difference between legal and physical custody of a child is crucial. Legal custody refers to the right of one parent to make decisions concerning the child’s well-being. On the other hand, physical custody is where a child resides and who has authority over the child’s day-to-day care and decisions.

An Amicable Solution for A Child’s Custody

A court will usually consider the child’s best interests when making child custody determinations. When one parent has no objection, the other parent can seek custody of their child through a voluntary agreement or by petitioning the court.

The Difference Between Sole Custody And Shared Custody

Regarding custody arrangements for children, parents should consider two main types of custody: sole custody and joint custody.

Sole custody means that one parent has sole legal and physical custody of the child. In contrast, joint custody is an arrangement in which both parties share responsibility for the care and upbringing of a child.

Ensuring The Child’s Best Interest Should Be Paramount To Any Decision

When deciding on a child’s legal custody arrangement, it’s vital to prioritize the children’s best interest, which should take priority over any personal preferences or custodial plans. It is crucial to consider the following:

  • The children’s age
  • The children’s relationship with each parent
  • Mental and physical health
  • Parent’s ability
  • Previous parental misconduct, such as domestic abuse
  • Any special needs that need consideration

Hire An Unbundled Lawyer To Pursue Your Child Custody Case

You’ve decided to pursue a child custody case but don’t know where to start.

An Unbundled attorney may be able to help you achieve the outcome you wish.

Although Unbundled legal services may not be ideal for every case, they can provide an alternative to traditional lawyers. On average, most Unbundled attorney fees range from only $500 to $1500. Hire an unbundled lawyer to help you pursue your child custody case in court.

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