Who Has More Rights Over The Child?

Who Has More Rights Over The Child?

The extent of a parent’s rights over a child depends on the type of child custody awarded to him/her by the courts, specifically:

  • Sole physical custody
  • Sole legal custody
  • Joint physical and/or legal custody
  • Split custody

Sole Physical Custody

When a parent is awarded sole physical custody, it implies that the child will live with that parent all the time. The other parent is likely to get visitation rights, but those are usually fairly limited. In real life, courts are reluctant to award sole physical custody because the courts believe that it is in the child’s best interest to experience the love and care of both parents.

Sole physical custody may be awarded in exceptional circumstances, particularly when one parent is unfit to care for the child – for example, if he/she is a criminal, or an addict who refuses to reform, or mentally unstable, or if it is proved that living with that parent poses a danger to the child’s safety. In all such cases, the courts may not award custody to such a parent and consequently award sole custody to the other parent.

Sometimes, the courts may award primary custody to a parent, which means that the child has to spend most of his/her time with that parent. Sometimes, primary custody is loosely referred to as sole custody.

Sole Legal Custody

When a parent is awarded sole legal custody, it implies that he/she has full authority to make significant decisions about the child’s future – for example, the parent can decide about the child’s education, upbringing, religion, medical care, and other important aspects of the child’s life.

Just as in the case of sole physical custody, sole legal custody is rarely awarded. The courts may award it when both parents cannot cooperate, when one parent is unfit to decide for the child, the parents live in different time zones, or if it is proved that one parent’s choices for the child will end up harming the child.

The disadvantage of sole legal custody is that it may dishearten the parent who cannot make decisions for the child and he/she may become hostile over time.

Joint Physical And/Or Legal Custody

In joint physical custody, the child gets to live with both parents, in turn, according to the terms of the parenting plan.

In joint legal custody, both parents have to cooperate and take all important decisions jointly on behalf of the child.

Split Custody

Split custody may be awarded by the courts when the parents have multiple children and circumstances dictate that it is in the best interests of the children to split them between the parents. For example, a child with special needs or mental health issues may need to be with the more understanding, more patient, and better caregiving parent. Similarly, if siblings don’t get along well with each other and keep fighting all the time, the courts may decide to split the children’s custody between the parents. Split custody may also be awarded in the case of a child who is old enough to make a choice regarding which parent he/she prefers to live with.

That said, split custody is not commonly awarded because the courts believe that children can be emotionally harmed when they grow up away from their siblings. When split custody is awarded, one parent may get sole physical and legal custody of the child who lives with him/her.

Protect Your Money And Your Family

We remove fear associated with divorce, protect your money & maximize time with your kids!

We're here to help. Let's determine your best options.

Call Us 24//7 at 801-685-9999 to Speak with a Live Representative

Utah Divorce FAQs
Top 100 Divorce Blog
What Clients Are Saying…
Brown Family Law
Based on 803 reviews
Overall from start to finish the best experience to have dealing with a time that is difficult.Andrew Christensen is very professional and out going to make this situation the best it could be and worked hard to make sure the divorce was fair for me.Over all, this firm really cares and treats you as a family or friend and just not a client, down to Marco Brown taking time to see how I was doing and offer to help in any way possible during my divorce while I was there for my first initial meeting.I would highly recommend anyone that has to go through a divorce to really reach out to the Brown Family Law firm and see for your self the experience I was able to receive from a top notch law firm.
Response from the owner: Devin, thank you for the kind words. Andrew appreciated the opportunity to help you with your situation.
Sophie was very helpful and explains the process and fees. Thank you!
Response from the owner: Corey, thank you for the kind words. Glad we could help.
My attorney Amy Pomeroy and assistant Melanie and Dani are awesome! It’s an easy case but due to the opposite party was failed to respond, the process went much longer than we expect. During the process Amy gets the necessary job done as quick as she can. The assistants made the most documentation jobs done in a reasonable time. I will get phone call or message to communicate for the status, what’s the next step, what should I expect. In the end, it’s a huge win. So I definitely recommend Brown Family Law. They are professional and handle the case very well.
Response from the owner: Yue, thank you for the kind words. Glad Amy was able to help you so well.
Dani always kept me updated and has great communication skills.
Response from the owner: Thank you, Sofia.
Dani was extremely helpful and always responsive.
Response from the owner: Glad Dani did well for you.
My experience with Brown Family Law is a positive one. I highly recommend them. This firm has very good communication with their clients. Attorney Paul Waldron represents me and I’m very happy with the experience. My questions and concerns are always answered quickly and respectfully. I’m grateful to have Mr. Waldron and Brown Family Law in my corner during this difficult time for my family.
Response from the owner: Jodie, glad we were able to communicate with you so effectively and quickly. Thank you for your kind words.
I recently used Clay in a divorce case and could not have been happier. He was efficient, knowledgeable, and made me feel like I was his only client. The process was easy and he was always there to reassure me or help me with decisions. I would highly recommend Brown Family Law.
Response from the owner: Thank you, Mendi.
Dani excelled as a paralegal, providing crucial support with exceptional skills!
Response from the owner: Glad Dani did such a good job for you.
Thank you So much
Response from the owner: You're welcome. Thank you for choosing us to help you.
I highly recommend Nathaniel and his team. They listened to me, navigated me, educated me, and always called when they said they would. Going through a divorce was very hard but they helped me get through it and showed compassion the whole time.
Response from the owner: Amy, thank you for your recommendation, and glad we could help you through your divorce.