Explaining Joint vs. Sole Child Custody

Explaining Joint vs. Sole Child Custody

The terms “joint custody” and “sole custody” can have different meanings in different contexts. There is no specific legal definition of either joint or sole custody. If you have a custody agreement or a child custody order from a court, you have to follow the terms of the agreement or order.

For example, if one parent has sole custody of a child, the other parent could have visitation rights during breaks from school, on weekends, during holidays, or during all of these times. You have to understand the details of your child custody order to figure out what the terms mean.

Physical vs. Legal Custody

You also have to consider whether you are discussing physical or legal custody. Physical custody refers to which parent has actual physical care of the child. One parent may care for the child during the week, while the other cares of the child on weekends. This would be an example of joint physical custody.

Legal custody involves making decisions about how a child is raised. This could involve choosing the child’s school, church, or healthcare options. Legal custody can also be given primarily to one parent or split between both parents.

Custody and Child Support

Custody arrangements also affect how child support is calculated. Whether child support payments are required will depend on how many nights the child spends with each parent, the parents’ incomes, and who pay for the child’s expenses. Generally, the parent with primary custody receives child support payments from the other parent, but several factors need to be considered to determine the amount of child support payments.

The important thing to remember is that you or the judge will decide exactly what the terms mean in your custody agreement or the court order. If you want the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s schooling without consulting the child’s other parent, make sure your agreement clearly states this.

On the other hand, just because your agreement states that you have joint custody of your child, that might not mean that you get physical custody of your child on every weekend or holiday. Your parenting plan should clearly spell out your rights and obligations to help avoid disputes over the meaning of the terms. If you aren’t sure what to make of the provisions in your parenting plan, consult with a family law attorney to get some guidance.

At King Law Office, we understand the challenges involved in any family law matter. Our goal is to help guide you through this process and listen to your concerns. Come visit us at one of our 12 office locations, including Brevard, Lincolnton and Gaffney, South Carolina.