Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody

At O'Brien & Wood PLLC, we understand that child custody matters can lead to contentious legal battles between parents. When parents fail to reach a custody agreement among themselves, then the court will step in to determine each parents’ rights and obligations. Courts generally order some form of joint custody, so that each parent can spend time with the children. But in some cases, courts decide that allowing one parent to have access to the children would be detrimental, so they grant sole custody to the other parent. However, there are many misconceptions about the differences between joint and sole custody. Below, we explain what rights parents have if they are granted sole custody or joint custody of their children.

What Is Sole Custody?

Sole custody gives one parent the authority to make all decisions for the child’s health, upbringing, education, and welfare. The parent with sole custody is the one with whom the child will reside at all times. When one parent has sole custody, courts can grant the other parent visitation rights. However, visitation rights vary depending on the circumstances of the case, and the court usually only grants sole custody if they find the other parent to be unfit and that visitation wouldn’t benefit the children.

What Is Joint Custody?

In general, parents who are capable of communicating without arguing and want to work together in raising their children choose or are granted joint custody. Most child custody cases result in some form of a joint custody agreement in which one spouse is designated as the primary residential parent with whom the child lives. The primary residential parent usually receives child support from the other parent under this agreement.

When parents are granted joint legal custody, both have the right to give an option regarding significant parenting decisions that will impact the children. This includes where the children go to school, which doctors they will visit, and whether the children will observe a specific religion. Parents with joint legal custody orders usually have to consult with each other before making major decisions regarding the children.

Do you have more questions about child custody and visitation? If so, please call our law firm today at (518) 240-9992 to discuss your case with our family law lawyers. Schedule your case consultation with our firm.