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What is sole legal custody and why is it important?

Most courts in New York prefer to award parents joint custody so that the child can continue to have a relationship with both parents. However, if one parent is abusive, it’s in the other parent’s best interest to seek sole custody of their child. As they fight for full custody in court, they should be aware of the differences between physical custody and legal custody.

What are the differences between physical custody and legal custody?

When people talk about issues of child custody and support, they’re typically talking about physical custody. Physical custody means that the child stays at one parent’s house permanently. The other parent might have visitation rights, but they won’t stay with the child for a long period of time.

However, the custodial parent might also wish to argue for sole legal custody. Legal custody gives that parent the right to make legal decisions for their child about health care, education and more without consulting the other parent.

Should you aim for sole legal custody?

If the other parent is abusive, it might be in the child’s best interest to aim for sole legal custody. This limits the contact that the parent and child will have with the abusive parent. This also enables the parent to raise the child according to their wishes without dealing with input from the other parent. However, sole legal custody can be overwhelming and isolating if the parent has to make important medical decisions by themselves.

How does an attorney help parents with child custody disputes?

If a parent wants to aim for full child custody, they may wish to hire an attorney. An attorney might be able to make a case to the judge that their client deserves full custody of their child.