Sole Physical Custody

Custody refers to the physical and legal custody of your child.

Physical custody is where your child resides physically, or where your child lives, and the everyday care of your child.

Sole physical custody means that your child lives with one parent and that parent is the custodial parent. Your child's other parent has visitation time with the child and is called the non-custodial parent.

The alternative to sole physical custody is joint physical custody.

Custody X Change is software that helps parents create a sole custody schedule and custody agreement.

Use the Free Download

When to have sole custody arrangements

Parents should have a sole custody arrangement when:

  • You and the other parent agree that sole custody is in your child's best interest.
  • A parent travels extensively for work or their work schedule makes it difficult to have the children live with them.
  • Your child needs a primary residence for an age appropriate custody schedule.
  • Parents live far away from each other and have a long distance custody schedule.
  • A parent has problems with substance abuse or is mentally unstable.
  • A parent has a history of abuse or neglect towards the child, or a parent has been absent from a child's life. Supervised visitation may be necessary in these circumstances.
Examples of sole custody visitation schedules

If you have a sole physical custody arrangement you need to make a visitation schedule that shows when your child will spend time with the non-custodial parent.

Some common sole custody visitation schedules include:

You can add midweek visits or overnights to any of these schedules to modify them to fit your needs.

State preferences for joint custody

Many states have laws that prefer joint custody over sole custody. Courts in these states will order joint custody as the default unless a parent can prove that sole custody is in the best interest of the child.

Remember that joint custody doesn't mean that both parents get equal parenting time with the child. If you want sole custody because you want your child to live primarily with you, you may still be able to have the living arrangements you want with joint custody. Your state custody guidelines can help you know how to proceed.

You can still seek sole custody in a state that prefers joint custody. If you have clear and compelling evidence that your child will do better with sole custody, the court will likely grant it.

Pros and Cons of Sole Physical Custody

Pros of sole physical custody include:

  • The child has a home base that is usually the same home the child has been living in.
  • The child can keep a routine and schedule that is similar to before the parents' separation.
  • A schedule can be set up that is stable and predictable so everyone always knows what's going on.
  • The noncustodial parent can be granted liberal visitation with the child.
  • Less exchanges can be easier for parents who live far away from each other or who have very busy work schedules.

Cons of sole physical custody include:

  • The children don't spend time living with both parents.
  • The noncustodial parent may not get enough time with the child and their relationship may suffer.
  • If a parent thinks the custody schedule is unfair, the parents may spend a lot of time in court fighting over the custody situation.

Custody X Change is software that makes it easy to document your situation and stay organized.

Free Download
No credit card required

Custody X Change is software that helps parents create a sole custody schedule and custody agreement.

Use the Free Download