Joint custody may be edging its way toward being the new norm after divorce, but that does not mean it is the right choice for every family in Texas. Child custody should always reflect the best interests of the individual child. For some, sole custody might be a more appropriate choice.
Sole custody can apply to either legal or physical custody and means that one parent has the exclusive rights regarding a child. The other parent is considered to be the noncustodial parent. In sole physical custody, a child lives exclusively with only the custodial parent, and he or she may also have periods of visitation with the noncustodial parent.
In sole legal custody, only one parent is allowed to make major decisions concerning the child’s welfare. This includes — but is not limited to — medical care and treatment, religious upbringing, education and moral development. However, sole legal custody is not necessarily a given in situations where a parent has sole physical custody, though it is not at all uncommon to have sole physical custody and joint legal custody.
Retaining sole physical and legal custody is rare. This type of arrangement is usually used when the noncustodial parent is considered incapable or unfit of being responsible for the child. This could be due to drug use, past abuse or more.
There are benefits for parents who are the sole custodians in that they do not have to consult with an ex when making decisions regarding their child. However, ease of parenting decisions should not be the primary deciding factor in pursuing this type of child custody agreement. Ultimately, Texas parents should carefully consider what type of arrangement would best reflect their child’s best interests.