Courts throughout the country base child custody decisions on the best interests of the child. So, if you want sole physical custody or sole legal custody, you must show the court how that arrangement serves your child’s best interests. Although state custody laws are now gender neutral, some judges still may seem to prefer to give mothers sole physical custody, especially when the children are young. Others favor joint custody when both parents are capable. If your spouse wants to share custody, it’s usually not enough to be the better caregiver; you may have to show how joint custody will disadvantage or harm your child. Sole custody may be appropriate if your ex has a demanding career that clashes with your child’s daily schedule: school dropoff and pickup, homework, medical appointments, and extracurricular activities. If your ex lives farther away from your children’s school, the added commute may be burdensome. Or, your ex’s residence may be unsuitable for children. If your ex has a drug or alcohol problem, anger issues, mental illness, or a history of domestic violence or sexual abuse, the court may rule that granting custody or even visitation to your ex would be detrimental to your child’s health, safety, or welfare. Sole physical custody doesn’t exclude your ex from your child’s life. The court can award joint legal custody and sole physical custody to you, with regular visitation or quot;parenting timeâ€� to your ex, unless such contact would be detrimental to your child. A family law attorney in your area can provide greater detail about how to get sole custody of your children.
What is joint legal custody
Legal custody refers to the parents’ rights to make important decisions about their child’s health, education, religious upbringing and general welfare. With joint legal custody, both parents share in the decisionmaking responsibilities, as they might have during their marriage. Legal custody is a separate issue from physical custody, which means providing the child with a home, either full time, as with sole physical custody, or part time, with joint physical custody. Joint legal custody can â€” and usually does â€” exist independent of the physical custody arrangement. This means that parents who rarely see their children may still take part in important decisions. Family courts generally award joint legal custody unless there is a compelling reason not to. For example, parents who share legal custody are expected to work together to make decisions in the best interests of their child. But if one parent creates conflict, refuses to cooperate in the decisionmaking process, or makes decisions contrary to the child’s best interests, a judge may award sole legal custody to the other parent. A local family law attorney can help you understand the rights and responsibilities that come with joint legal custody.