If you’re like most parents going through a divorce, one of the most pressing issues you’re facing is child custody – and you’ve probably heard about legal and physical custody, joint custody and sole or full custody.
But what is “full custody,” and what would it mean for you or your spouse if the court awarded it to one of you?
What is Full Custody?
The term full custody isn’t a legal one, but it does refer to one parent having sole legal and physical custody of a child.
Legal custody is a parent’s authority to make decisions about a child’s education, health and welfare.
Physical custody refers to the child’s physical presence with a parent.
Full Legal Custody
A parent with full legal custody has the right to make all the decisions about the child’s education, health and welfare, such as:
- What schools the child will attend
- What extracurricular activities the child will participate in
- Where the child goes for medical treatment (including dental treatment)
- What church the child attends, if any, or what type of religious upbringing the child will have
- Where the child spends time and with whom the child spends time
Full Physical Custody
A parent who has full physical custody of a child shares a home with that child all the time. The child’s primary residence is with that parent.
Is Full Custody Common?
Full custody isn’t as common as it once was. California courts recognize the importance of both parents in a child’s life, which means it’s fairly unusual for a judge to award full custody – either legal or physical – to one parent.
However, it does happen. It’s more common in cases that involve a parent harming a child, either physically or mentally. Sometimes courts will award sole legal custody to one parent but joint custody between the two, or full legal and physical custody to one parent alone.
In a few cases, particularly those that involve a parent harming a child or behaving in ways that are detrimental to the child’s well-being, or when one parent is incarcerated, the courts will block the offending parent from visiting the child. However, it’s not unusual for the courts to order supervised visitation when one parent doesn’t provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child, but every case is different (and if your situation involves anything like this, you need to discuss it with your Stockton divorce attorney immediately).
What if You Have Joint Custody?
If you have joint custody with your ex, you can’t prevent him or her from seeing your children or making decisions about their welfare, health and education while they are together. Excluding your ex from decision-making or preventing him or her from spending time with the kids could land you in court, and worse, it could be emotionally harmful to your children.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Child Custody?
We can help you work out a custody agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse that works for your whole family – one that puts your kids’ needs and well-being first.
Call us at 209-910-9865 or get in touch with a Stockton divorce attorney online to schedule a consultation today. We’ll discuss your case, find out about your circumstances and start formulating a plan that gets you and your children the best possible outcome.