A Law Career

When Sole Custody Is The Right Decision

by Ruby Mckinney

There are more choices than ever before when it comes to child custody and divorce. There can be a confusing array of custody and visitation choices available to divorcing parents, called parenting plans. One particular choice is as popular as ever for good reasons. Read on to find out more about the sole custody choice.

Understanding Legal and Physical Custody

There are two aspects to child custody. The legal custodian may not necessarily be the physical custodian. All parents—unless stripped of their parental rights, incarcerated, or judged unfit—has legal custody of their biological child. This gives them the ability to, with the other parent, make important decisions about the child's education, discipline, healthcare, social development, and more. Physical custody describes where the child resides most of the time. In almost all cases, the parent who does not have full physical custody of the child is provided with visitation where they are encouraged to spend time with the child. If both parents agree to share physical custody, that is known as shared—or 50/50—parenting. The child resides approximately 50% of the time with each parent. There is no visitation plan for shared custody.

Sole Physical Custody

While shared physical custody can be appropriate for some families, shuttling the child back and forth to two different homes can also be chaotic and disruptive for the child. For younger children, staying in one home the vast majority of the time promotes a sense of security and sameness at a time when the divorce can cause the child to feel insecure. Sole physical custody has other benefits as well:

  1. The child can often stay in the same family home they are accustomed to. That also means they can enjoy the same neighborhood, friends, school, worship location, doctors, and more.
  2. The child visitation schedule can work even better than shared custody in many cases. You and your spouse can evaluate your work and social schedules and create a visitation plan that works for your needs. Traditionally, the non-custodial parent spends time with a child on the weekends and for longer stretches during school holidays. Spending a school night or two, however, with the non-custodial parent can allow that parent more exposure to the child's school obligations.

Sole custody can provide your child with the best of both worlds with the security of a home base and plenty of time with the other parent. Speak to your family law attorney to learn more.