There are two different types of custody – physical custody and legal custody. Legal custody refers to the rights of a parent to make major decisions regarding the upbringing of a child, including healthcare, religious, and educational decisions. Physical custody refers to where the child will primarily reside. Generally, family courts believe the continued involvement of both parents serves the best interests of a child and, as such, often award joint custody. If joint physical custody is too impractical due to distance or schedules, a family court judge will likely still award joint legal custody.
It is incredibly rare for a judge to award sole physical and legal custody to a parent. Unless the other parent has a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or child abuse, or has willfully been absent from a child’s life for an extended number of years, family courts are not inclined to separate a child from a parent entirely. In some cases, supervised visitation may be ordered for a parent who poses a risk to being responsible for a child.
Fighting for Custody
If you are pursuing sole physical and legal custody because you believe the other parent is unfit to care for the child, you must provide proof for the court. Since family court judges are hesitant to deny a parent both legal and physical custody, providing documentation of unfit or abusive behavior is crucial for obtaining the arrangement that keeps the child safe and serves his or her best interests. For example, if the other parent was physically abusive or neglected the child, documentation of this behavior can help you secure sole custody of your child.
If you are pursuing sole physical custody, a judge may grant this if you and the other parent live far apart, making joint physical custody impossible. Keep in mind, even if you are granted joint physical custody, the other parent will still have visitation rights. Sole physical custody simply means that the child will spend most of the time in your household, usually 70% or more. In this instance, it is likely joint legal custody orders will be in place, requiring you to consult with the other parent regarding important decisions regarding the child’s health, education and welfare. If the judge awards you sole legal custody, you may still be required to notify the other parent, but not seek his or her consent before making the decision.
Schedule an Initial Consultation with Our Compassionate Family Law Team
Child custody disputes are emotionally challenging for families and are especially difficult for the children involved. If you believe sole custody would serve the best interests of your child, you need to hire an experienced child custody attorney to fight on your behalf and achieve the best possible results. At Kraft Miles, A Law Corporation, our family law team is committed to guiding families through some of the most sensitive legal issues. You can rely on us for the strong legal support you need during this trying time.
Reach out to our law office today at (818) 462-5076 to request an initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to discuss the details of your child custody case.