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Understanding Sole Custody

Child custody matters are among the most emotionally fraught issues in divorce. While most custody cases result in joint custody, in some instances, sole custody is awarded, based on the child’s needs and safety. Backed with decades of experience, S. Roger Rombro and Melinda A. Manley at Rombo & Associates in Manhattan Beach, CA, can represent you in these difficult circumstances. Call (310) 545-1900 or use our online form to learn more about how our legal team can help.

Close up of man's hand holding small girl's hand

In some cases, sole custody is the only way to protect a child's best interests. 

Sole Legal vs. Physical Custody

A parent with sole custody of a child has exclusive legal and physical custody rights regarding that child. In sole legal custody, the parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions concerning all matters relating to the child's well-being, such as medical care, education, and their moral and emotional upbringing. On the other hand, sole physical custody is when a child lives with one parent. The other parent, the noncustodial parent, is typically granted a reasonable visitation schedule, except for instances when the court determines that visitations are not in the best interests of the child.

When is Sole Custody Awarded?

Generally speaking, courts are moving away from awarding sole custody to one parent to allow both parents to play a significant role in their children’s lives. When courts do award sole physical custody, the parents will often share joint legal custody, and the noncustodial parent has visitation rights.

An experienced child custody lawyer can ensure that your custody arrangements and visitation agreements are fair, protecting your and your child’s best interests.

Sole custody arrangements are typically limited to situations whereby one parent is determined to be unfit or incapable of having responsibility over the child. Sole custody may be granted if the other parent is shown to have:

  • A history of violent behavior
  • Placed the child in a dangerous situation
  • A history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Inappropriate contact with minors
  • Mental instability

What Are the Pros and Cons of Sole Custody?

The main benefit of being awarded sole custody is that you do not need to consult with the other parent when making decisions about the child's welfare such as their medical attention or schooling. There is also less of a potential for scheduling conflicts in sole custody cases, compared to joint custody arrangements. 

A possible drawback to sole custody arrangements is relocation restrictions. Despite having sole legal custody, a parent may not have the right to relocate without the court's authorization. The court may need to address situations where relocation violates the noncustodial parent's visitation rights.

Types of Visitation Arrangements

When determining the visitation schedule, a judge will base the decision on the child's best interests, the relationship between the parent and child, and the ability of the parent to provide a stable environment.

There are four basic types of visitation agreements in California:

Reasonable Vistation
Reasonable visitation is when the parents have a flexible visitation schedule that takes into account their scheduling needs. This open-ended agreement works when the parents can effectively communicate, and maintain a relatively good relationship.
Scheduled Visitation
To prevent conflicts and confusion, the court can work in collaboration with the parents to develop a detailed visitation schedule. This calendar will include day-to-day visitation rights, as well as vacations, holidays, and special events, like birthdays.
Supervised Visitation
If a child's safety is in question when they are in the care of one parent, supervised visitation may be appropriate. This visitation type may be ordered when the parent has a history of behavior that puts the child in danger, such as abuse, neglect, or drug use. Visitations may be supervised by the other parent, another adult, or a professional agency.
No Visitation
When a child's physical safety or emotional well-being is in jeopardy when they are in the presence of one parent, even if the interaction is supervised, a no-visitation order can be issued.

Learn More about Your Rights Today

With so much at stake in a child custody case, it is important to seek legal counsel. If you are considering securing sole custody, call us today at (310) 545-1900, or you can reach out to us online.

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I am very satisfied with Roger Rombro service. I now have more time with my kids and enjoying every bit of it. Not many attorneys you will find that truly cares about your issues. Roger sincerely does. Thank you so much Roger and team! - Cash

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Manhattan Beach Office

3405 Sepulveda Blvd
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Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

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Manhattan Beach Office

3405 Sepulveda Blvd
Ste 200
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Open Today 9:00am - 5:00pm

More Info Directions (310) 545-1900