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.

Published On: September 2nd, 2022Categories: Child CustodyComments Off on Who Has More Rights Over The Child?
Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!
About the Author: Marco Brown
Marco C. Brown was named Utah’s Outstanding Family Law Lawyer of the Year in 2015. He graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2007 and is currently the managing partner of Brown Family Law, LLC.
Contact Us – We Are Here to Help You

Schedule a time to talk with us – we are here to help you. When you meet with your attorney, we will go over your entire case, your children, your money and everything else that’s important to you. Our goal is to remove the fear associated with divorce by protecting your money and maximizing your time with your kids, all within 3-6 months. We look forward to meeting with you!

Call us 24/7 at 801-685-9999 to Speak with a Live Representative
Get A Legal Consultation With An Experienced Utah Attorney
Your privacy is 100% guaranteed, your information will never be sold or shared.

While this website provides general information, it does not constitute divorce advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific divorce issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a divorce consultation with an attorney, please call or complete the intake form above.

The use of the Internet (or this form) for communication with the firm (or any individual member of the firm) does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.