Sole Custody is when the children primarily reside with one parent and that parent makes all the decisions related to health, education, religion, and welfare of the children. Generally the non-custodial parent will
receive independent access to the health, education, and welfare records pertaining to child so that he or she
can monitor the custodial parent's decision making.
Joint Custody/Primary Residential Parent
The children primarily reside with one parent but decisions related to health, education, religion, and welfare of the children are decided by both parents together.
The parents split physical custody and decisions related to health, education, religion, and welfare of the children are decided by both parents together.
To avoid disagreement, it is increasingly more common for parents who choose Joint Custody to agree that one parent makes all decisions about education, and the other parent makes all the decisions about health, (or something similar).
What does the Court Consider in Deciding Custody?
The Court will consider what is in the "Best Interest of the Child" when determining which
parent gets custody. The best interest of the child standard is made up of a broad range of factors that the Court will consider. The factors are taken together as a whole, none of which taken alone are the determining factor.
What are the Best Interest of the Child Factors?
Is there Domestic Violence in the Household.
Who was the primary caretaker of the children.
Who is the better parent.
What is the nurturing ability of each parent.
Which parent has better judgment.
The desirability of keeping siblings together.
The wishes of the child, if the child is of sufficient age.
The lifestyle of each parent.
The religion of each parent.
Whether each parent will encourage or discourage visitation with the other parent.
The Continuity of a stable environment.
The age of the child.
The Substance abuse or chemical addiction of either of the parents.
The quality of each parent's home environment.
The parental guidance each parent provides to the child.
The ability of each parent to provide for the child's emotional and intellectual development.
The financial status of each parent, and their ability to provide for the child.
The relative fitness of the respective parents including their mental condition.
The length of time the present custody arrangement has been in effect.
A parent's sexual behavior, character and lifestyle (only if it directly affects the child)
Any other factor the Court determines to be just and proper based on the circumstances of the case.