California Divorce Blog–Sole Custody

In cases involving children the Court may award a party either Sole Legal Custody, Sole Physical Custody or both.  Some people going through a divorce do not want the other parent to have any custody with the child. This may or may not be warranted depending on the circumstances.  In this article I will focus on the issue of Sole Legal Custody and Sole Physical Custody.

The major consideration in adjudicating contested custody is the child’s “best interest. However, the best interest determination is left largely to the trial court’s discretion. The trial court’s decision will be upheld on appeal so long as it reasonably can be concluded that the order advances the child’s best interest, consistent with Family Code Sections 3011 and 3020. (See Marriage of LaMusga (2004) 32 C4th 1072, 1087, 12 CR3d 356, 366; Marriage of Burgess (1996) 13 C4th 25, 31-32, 51 CR2d 444, 449—no abuse of discretion in awarding primary physical custody to move-away parent.
Sole physical custody: A parent may be granted exclusive physical custody without exclusive legal custody. This means the child resides with and is supervised by one parent, subject to the other parent’s visitation rights; but the custodial parent does not have sole decision-making power regarding other matters affecting the child. (See Family Code Section 3007 and Marriage of Burgess (1996) 13 C4th 25, 29, 51 CR2d 444, 447).
Sole legal custody: Conversely, a parent may be awarded the exclusive right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the child’s health, education and welfare; but unless exclusive physical custody is also granted, that parent does not have sole control over the child’s residence and supervision. (See Family Code Section 3006).
Typically, the Court will not order sole legal custody or sole physical custody unless a parent has abandoned the child or poses some risk of harm towards the child including but not limited to physical abuse, molestation, criminal activity or drug abuse. If you are seeking sole custody or the other parent is seeking a court order for sole custody please call Attorney Keith F. Simpson today to discuss your case at (310) 297-9090.  The Law Offices of Keith F. Simpson, A Professional Corporation, is located in Manhattan Beach, California.  You may also visit to request a free initial consultation today.

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