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Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody: What is the difference?

In Indiana, as in many other jurisdictions in the United States, custody arrangements for children are typically categorized as either sole custody or joint custody. Here’s a brief explanation of what each of these terms means in the context of child custody:

  1. Sole Custody:
    • Sole custody, also known as “full custody” or “primary custody,” means that one parent (the custodial parent) has the legal and physical responsibility for the child or children. The custodial parent has the authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including matters related to education, healthcare, religion, and general welfare.
    • In a sole custody arrangement, the non-custodial parent may still have visitation rights or parenting time, which allows them to spend time with the child, but they do not have decision-making authority.
  2. Joint Custody:
    • Joint custody, also known as “shared custody” or “shared parenting,” means that both parents share the legal and physical responsibility for their child or children. This arrangement typically involves both parents working together to make major decisions concerning the child’s life.
    • Joint custody does not necessarily mean that the child will spend equal time with both parents; the physical custody or parenting time schedule can vary depending on what is in the best interests of the child. It’s possible for one parent to have more parenting time than the other in a joint custody arrangement.
    • Joint custody can be further broken down into joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Joint legal custody involves both parents sharing decision-making authority, while joint physical custody involves the child spending significant time with both parents.

In Indiana, as in many other states, child custody decisions are made based on the best interests of the child. The court considers various factors, including the child’s age, relationship with each parent, the ability of each parent to provide a stable and safe environment, and other relevant factors, when determining the appropriate custody arrangement.

If you have any questions, reach out to Treptow Law to fully understand the specific laws and guidelines for child custody in the state and to help you navigate the custody process effectively.  Additionally, the specific terms of custody arrangements can vary from case to case based on the unique circumstances of the family involved, so it is important that you discuss these issues with an attorney.  Contact us today!