What are My Rights With Sole Custody?

Separation with children results in either joint or sole custody. With joint custody, both parents are responsible for their child’s well-being and care, and they need to make decisions together. With sole custody, one parent is responsible for making major decisions for the child regardless of what the other parent thinks.

The court will decide if joint or sole custody is best for the child, and in most cases, they do prefer to have both parents working together. However, certain circumstances require the court to give sole custody to one parent, and that parent then has the following rights.

Visitation Rights

Unfortunately, even if you have sole custody, it is not up to you what the visitation rights and schedule are for your child. During your divorce or separation, this schedule is determined by the courts, and it is up to both parties to fulfill this schedule to the best of your abilities. In fact, should one of you deter from the court-appointed visitation schedule, it could leave you susceptible to being arrested. While you can plead your case to the court, know that sole custody does not give you the power to keep your ex away from your child.


With sole custody, you do have the ability to decide where the child will live. Depending on your relationship with your ex and your visitation schedule, it may be in the best interest to keep the child in the same neighborhood you lived before the divorce. However, should you need to relocate for work or personal reasons, know you can do so without having to consult with your ex.


In addition to deciding where your child can live, you also get to decide where your child will go to school. Again, this is usually determined by where you live, but should you decide to send your child to a private school, you have the right to do so.


If you are a religious person, parents will sole custody have the ability to decide what religion the child will be raised. Obviously, once your child is old enough to make his or her own decisions, this should be left to the child; however, until then, you can make this decision and raise your child as you see fit following those religious beliefs.

Medical Decisions

Your child’s health is the number one priority, and sometimes health decisions will need to be made for your child. When you have sole custody, you are allowed to decide on your child’s medical decisions without consulting the other parent. For instance, if you are deciding whether or not to vaccinate, whether or not to go through with certain tests, or even whether or not to go through with a procedure, this decision is totally up to you until your child turns 18.


Like visitation rights, you do not get to decide how much child support or alimony payments you receive from your ex. Instead, this decision is again made by the courts, and depending on where you live, it may be a state law that’s followed. Should you ever have any issues with your child support payments, be sure to take it up with the court, not your ex.

Having sole custody of your child gives you plenty of rights, but there are also things you simply cannot decide. Be sure to fully understand what you’re responsible for when it comes to your children, but also be sure to work hard to give them a solid relationship with the other parent, regardless of your personal feelings.

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