Sole custody is an arrangement where only one parent gets custody of the child after divorce or separation. A court issues the order that gives just one parent ‟the care, control, and maintenance of the child(ren)” while both parents still have visitation with the child(ren). The order will detail what type of time each parent gets with the child(ren) and what kind of physical custody each parent has.
Parents who split up often believe they can make joint custody work, but what happens when one person is dissatisfied with the arrangement? If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on what type of custody you would like to have or what works best for your child, sole custody may be the only option. Keep scrolling for further details on how custody arrangements work and their repercussions on the child and parents.
In This Article
Difference Between Joint Custody And Sole Custody
In joint custody, both parents are responsible for the care, control, and maintenance of the child(ren) and have visitation rights. One parent has primary physical custody of a child, and they spend more time with the kid than anyone else. It, however, doesn’t mean that the other parent cannot see the child. If you and your ex-partner have agreed on what share of time each of you spends with the child and what the schedule looks like, it is called joint custody.
When there is sole custody, only one parent has responsibilities for the child(ren). The court reserves the decision on visitations and their duration for the other parent. When one parent has sole custody of a child, the other parent has no right to give any inputs at all. It means guardianship will entirely depend on what one person chooses to do.
Sole custody is only awarded by a judge if it is considered to be the best possible scenario for the child(ren). Head to the next section to know the grounds on which a parent can win sole custody of their child.
When Is Sole Custody Awarded To A Parent?
Here are some of the reasons sole custody could be awarded to either of the parents:
- One of the parents is incarcerated or a convicted felon.
- One of the parents has a disability that prohibits them from caring for their child.
- One of the parents can afford to support their child financially, and the other parent can’t.
- One of the parents is abusive and poses a threat to the child.
- There is a history of substance abuse on either side of the family.
- One of the parents is not physically or emotionally available to care for the child.
- One of the parents is in active military service.
- The parents are divorced, separated, or have never lived together.
The next section talks about the possible benefits of sole custody for a child and a parent. Read on.
Pros Of Sole Custody For The Child And Parent
- The first and most apparent advantage of sole custody is that the child will spend more time with one parent. It means more time for stability, bonding, and consistency. In addition, the child will get time to get to know their parent and their expectations.
- A second significant benefit of sole custody is that it may lower the amount that the family would otherwise have to pay in child support because one parent is not responsible for covering their ex-partner’s share of the financial burden.
- The parent who gets sole custody will also have a much easier time getting what they need from their ex-partner as far as doctor visits, school forms, and other official documents involving the child are concerned.
- The other benefit of sole custody is that it avoids a possible frustrating situation for two parents, who often fight over what’s best for their children. These arguments can lead to resentment and conflict that may last forever.
- A parent with sole custody is fully empowered to make decisions for what is best for their child. They no longer have to consult with anyone else when it comes to what happens with their child.
- Another reason a parent would want sole custody is that it allows them more freedom to move. Having sole custody of your child will mean you don’t have to worry about what the other parent thinks about what you do with your child, what activities they are involved in, or what school they go to.
- The final possible advantage of sole custody is that it reduces confusion for children if parents have opposing views on child-rearing.
However, sole custody comes with its share of responsibility for the parent who got guardianship and a feeling of abandonment for the parent who did not. Keep scrolling to know it may be challenging for the parents and the child(ren).
Cons Of Sole Custody For The Child And Parent
While most people would agree that sole custody is what’s best for a child, the following are some potential drawbacks it may entail:
- It may be disheartening and discouraging not to have sole custody of your kid, not to be involved with them on a daily basis, and not to be able to see them grow old.
- It is also possible to receive sole custody and not be able to provide what is best for the child because of what it costs to raise a family or take care of them. If this is the case, what happens to the child?
- It is common for one parent to go against the court ruling and run away with the child. One can only imagine the negative impact it may have on a child’s mind.
- A subtle drawback of sole custody is that it allows one parent to determine what the child feels about their other parent. Children may grow to resent what one parent wants versus what the other wants.
- Another issue with sole custody is that, in unusual circumstances, it could mean the child would be in a worse situation than it would have been if both parents were responsible for their care.
- Lastly, what about when the child is old enough to make their own decisions? If sole custody means the other parent doesn’t have much say, what happens when the child wants what is best for them rather than what their mom or dad thinks?
Sole custody almost assures that the parent not awarded the custody is far from the child’s life, making it hard for them. The next section talks about the difficulties non-custodial parents face in this kind of setup.
What Happens To The Parent Who Doesn’t Get Custody?
The parent who doesn’t get the child’s custody may experience what’s known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), which is what happens when a child turns away from them and develops an aversion to them.
It can be extremely difficult for non-custodial parents because they are used to having their kids every day. All of a sudden, they can’t see their child as often and what was once easy is now difficult. Since the parent only has what the judge awards them, what happens when it feels like they don’t have much say in what’s happening to their child?
For parents that had their kids most of the time, what happens when visitation ends? They may be devastated to lose what they once had with their child?
What about how this affects the child? No one wants what is best for a child more than their parents. In such a scenario, both parents should work together to make things as comfortable for the child as possible. For detailed options, scroll to the next section.
How To Protect Your Child’s Best Interest
Talk to your partner about what is best for the kids and create a parenting plan that benefits them. It involves recognizing what is most important for the child and working together despite differences to achieve it.
Another option is parenting coordination. Here, the parents will not work together directly with their children, but a trained professional will handle the correspondence and coordination. This way, parents can discover what is best for their kids based on the resources they have.
Children thrive when their parents have a functional relationship. They also benefit from seeing their parents work together and compromise in their best interests. While sole custody isn’t the only way to assure that your kid gets the best possible upbringing, it is what many judges award. Sometimes, what is best isn’t what you or your ex want, but what the judge deems most helpful. However, what you can do to help your child is taking responsibility for what it costs to raise them and providing them access to proper education.
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