Sole custody

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Sole custody is an arrangement where - after the separation or divorce of a minor child’s parents - only one parent has physical custody and/or legal custody. Physical custody determines who lives with and cares for the child. Legal custody is the right to make important decisions regarding a child’s welfare, health, and upbringing.

In sole physical custody arrangements, a child lives with one parent - called the custodial parent - for all or a majority of the time. The noncustodial parent usually has visitation rights, which are established by the court. A parent who has sole legal custody is not required to consult the other parent when making major decisions for or about the child. 

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]