Child Custody Help: What is Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody?
An experienced child custody attorney will explain the details of exactly what the difference is between sole custody and joint custody—but following is a basic breakdown. In most cases, joint custody is based on the court’s belief that encouraging parents to work together for the best interests of the child is of utmost importance in developing a healthy relationship with both parents and the child, whereas an award of sole custody to one parent is because the court does not believe the parties can cooperate well enough to work together for the child.
Joint custody means that both parents share in the responsibilities of the children and should work together to approve any major decisions related to the children’s lives. Most courts encourage joint custody for this reason. In this situation one parent is still the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent the child lives with most of the time, sometimes called the residential parent. The other parent is the noncustodial parent and the child has visitation with them on a regular basis. This parent is sometimes called the nonresidential parent. Having both parents in a child’s life is important for countless reasons to help a child grow up with positive influences from both parents. Judges often look specifically to how the parents interact with each other in making a joint custody decision.
Sole custody of a child, which is less common, but granted in some situations, is where the primary care giver or custodial parent does not need to work with the other parent to develop plans for how the child should be raised or to make big decisions on medical procedures or little decisions such as after school activities. However, in some sole custody situations many courts are moving towards allowing the non-custodial parent certain rights regarding serious medical procedures. An award of sole custody to the other parent does not mean that a noncustodial parent won’t be included in decisions about their child. Quite to the contrary, both parents are normally still granted equal rights to school functions, medical information, school information, and the ability and right to spend quality parenting time or visitation with their child. Sole custody does not mean a parent’s rights have been taken away. Again, communication between parents being a key factor, it just means that the two parents cannot work together to co-parent.
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Hiring an expert child custody attorney that will fight for you on issues of sole custody, joint custody, or on child custody modifications or enforcement is essential to protecting your rights and ensuring that your family is cared for in the way that they deserve. You first consultation with one of our child custody experts is free. Let us help you get what you desire for your family.