Is sole custody common after a divorce?

In a divorce, sole custody means that rights are granted to only one parent. This could include both legal custody — decision-making power — and physical custody. Joint custody is when one of both of these rights are shared between both parents.

If you’re getting divorced, you may be worried that your ex is going to get sole custody and you will not see your children or have a say in how they are raised. But is this fear warranted? How common is this? 

Modern courts prefer joint custody

Generally speaking, courts will seek joint custody solutions and will prefer shared parenting options when possible. The reason for this is that it’s been found that being involved with both parents while growing up is better for the children on many levels. Since the courts want to promote the children’s best interests, they’ll typically use joint custody as a part of this solution. 

That doesn’t mean that sole custody is never used. For instance, if there is evidence of domestic violence or abuse in the home, the parent who committed those offenses could be denied custody on the grounds that it’s dangerous for the children. Issues like drug use, addiction or a criminal record could also be considered. 

Overall, though, it takes something fairly drastic for the court to cut one parent out of a child’s life. They do not do this on a whim or simply because one parent asks for sole custody. What your ex wants — or what you want — isn’t what the court is worried about. They’re concerned with what is best for the children. 

As you move toward divorce, consider your parental rights and custody options carefully to find a perfect solution for your family.