Divorce Custody Rights

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In many divorce cases, the parents along with contributions from mediators, counselors and lawyers, decide the custody rights in an out of court agreement. However, if the parents fail to reach on to a mutual agreement, the court decides the custody rights. In doing so, the court intends the best interests of the child. In case the child is of adequate age, the court takes the opinion of the child in this regard. Divorce custody rights should not be given in the hands of the judge, it is better to settle the case outside the court with the help of mediation and deposition. In this way both can meet the child and shower their love on them, but if the decision is taken by the judge, the decision would be in favor of one of the partners. The decision is final and each partners has to strictly abide by it.

Divorce Custody Rights to a non parent

In some cases, individuals other than the parents desire the rights of child custody. Such individuals may be close family friends, grandparents or other relatives. In some states, this situation is termed as "third party" or "non parental" custody. Some states do not define the intentions of these people as acquiring custody rights, but simply procuring "guardianship" of the child.

Custody rights are generally not given to a non parent, but it also depends upon the law regarding divorce custody rights prevailing in the country. The decision is generally taken in the best interest of the children.

Sole Divorce Custody Rights

Physical Custody

  • One parent lives and supervises the child.
  • The other parent is granted visitation rights, except when the court concludes that it is not in the best interests of the child to have visitation with this parent.
  • This is the most common custody plan and people opt for this type of custody in order to stay with the child.

Legal Custody

  • Only one parent is given the rights and responsibilities to take decisions pertaining to the welfare of the child. This comprises of religious development, moral development, emotional concerns, medical care and education. This is also called the sole legal custody. In this type of custody, the other partner cannot interfere in the decisions made by the partner who is awarded legal custody.

Joint Divorce Custody Rights

Physical Custody

  • Both the parents are awarded considerable amount of time to maintain physical contact with the child. This decision is mostly best for the child as he gets to spend time with both the parents.

Legal Custody

  • Both the parents share the rights and responsibilities regarding the decisions pertaining to the welfare, education and health of the child. The final decision would be taken in the best interest of the child so that he enjoys his future and do not feel left out.
  • The parents must set aside any differences between them and cooperate with one another for the child's welfare. This helps the couple to spend time with the child. It is better if the parents set the right kind of attitude in front of their children rather than having a negative impact.
  • If the parents can make this plan work, the law assumes that this arrangement is in the best interests of the children and combined custody is awarded to them.

Some Case Studies


A divorced couple had made a non court agreement that they would switch their daughter every 4 days. Later the wife found that her ex did not have time for the daughter. He would attend work and leave the daughter with his new wife and son. So, the wife desired full custody. Is there any chance?


If the husband is not spending adequate time with the daughter, it is more sensible that the daughter spends more time with the mother. The custody plan can be altered to 6 days with the mother and 1 day with the father. However, the mother should realize that the daughter should understand that the step brother is her sibling. The daughter and the step brother should spend time together so that they get to know each other.


A mother has sole legal custody and sole physical custody of her two children. Is it possible for the ex husband's new wife access the health and educational records of the children?


As the mother has sole legal custody, she is the singular person who can access the children records. She may permit her ex to access these records. However, the ex does not have a right to sanction his new wife to do the same.

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