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Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody: Understanding the Difference

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2017 | Child Custody, Family Law


Child custody refers to how parents will raise a child or children that they have in common. Sometimes it’s possible for spouses to arrange for a dual custody of the child, while other times it may be ideal for one spouse to have custody of a child. This is there distinctions of sole custody and joint custody are made.

The lawyers of Saunders Law Group have helped countless clients with their child custody cases. People in and around greater Polk County area can count on our firm if they require the services of a skilled child custody attorney or divorce lawyer. We’d like to cover the differences and concerns when it comes to joint custody and sole custody.

Joint Custody of a Child

Joint custody of a child means that both parents share the legal and physical custody of a child or children. In essence, this means that while the parents are separated or divorced, they will both share in raising their child and making decisions that will affect the child’s upbringing.

It’s possible for parents to make these arrangements together and to do amicably. Children may spend a certain amount of time in one household and a certain amount of time in another. The amount of physical custody and legal custody can vary based on scheduling, lifestyle, income, and other factors.

Sole Custody of a Child

Sole custody of a child means that one parent has exclusive legal and physical custody rights. These kinds of custody arrangements are much rarer than joint custody. Typically sole custody is awarded when one parent demonstrates that they are incapable of raising a child or unfit to do so.

Even though one parent may have sole physical and legal custody of a child, the other parent (known as the non-custodial parent) may still be granted visitation rights. In some cases, these visits may be supervised, especially if there is a history of abuse involved in the divorce or separation.

The Best Interests of the Child

No matter what type of custody is sought, the arrangement are made with the best interests of the child/children in mind. This is a broad phrase and perhaps a bit vague, but the ultimate goal is to raise a child in a caring and loving environment the promotes the child’s health, happiness, and emotional well-being into their adult lives.

Determining and Negotiating Custody with Your Spouse

As noted above, many couples are able to negotiate custody and visitation amicably. This does not describe all cases, however. Sometimes one spouse is simply not fit for custody, or there may be disagreements about visitation schedules and what truly is in the best interests of the child. These kinds of disputes often call for a mediator or a skilled negotiator.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

Whether you face a difficult divorce or a relatively amicable one, working with an attorney can help the process proceed properly and as smoothly as possible. We will work closely with you and note your concerns to your spouse/spouse’s legal representation. We will also keep your child’s best interests in mind and help work out some kind of agreement that puts your child first.

These matters can be difficult, but our attorneys can offer invaluable peace of mind and guidance during this process.

Learn More About Child Custody and Family Law

For more information about your legal options regarding child custody and divorce, be sure to contact our team of family law attorneys today. The lawyers at our firm will work with you and will keep your child or your children’s best interests in mind.


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