Child Custody – Will I Get Full Custody?

A reader recently posed an important question about the outcome of their divorce, and how custody of the children would be decided. The reader asked about full custody, or as it is known in divorce court, sole physical custody . They wanted to know, “What are the deciding factors I will get full custody of our kids?

Many state courts are in favor of joint child custody, but some divorce courts may choose to award sole physical and legal custody to one parent and child visitation to the other parent. Another child custody option scenario is when one parent is awarded sole physical custody but shares joint legal custody. Both parents have the right to make decisions about the children’s upbringing, but the custodial parent is responsible for making the day-to-day decisions in the child’s life. Under either scenario, the court is going to decide what is in the best interest of the child.

There are basically two types of full or sole child custody in a divorce: physical child custody and legal child custody.

Under physical child custody, the children live with exclusively with one parent, and the other may be given visitation rights, a schedule determined by the court to determine access by the noncustodial parent..  Under legal child custody,  one parent has the exclusive right – granted by the court – to make decisions about the child’s education, medical treatment, and religious teachings.

Now we know the definition of full custody, how does one get it in a divorce?

The answer to this question could potentially have 50 variations, as divorce laws and statutes can differ from state to state. The best way is to enlist the assistance of a qualified and experienced divorce law attorney. Here at, we can provide you with the resources you’ll need to find a divorce attorney in your area. It all comes down to what is determined to be in the best interest of the child. These are the most common factors considered in determining “best interest”:

  • The child’s age and health
  • The health of the parents
  • The stability of the parents and their lifestyle
  • How well the children have adjusted to their community and their school (Would it be detrimental to move them away?)
  • The parents’ ability to provide for the child’s needs, both financial and emotional
  • The quality of relationship the child has with each parent
  • Whether the child or the parents have disabilities
  • The children’s preference of which parent to live with, providing the court rules the children are old enough or mature enough to make such a decision, and if they agree the children’s decision is in their best interests.
Getting full custody of your children in a divorce basically comes down to the court’s ruling on a parent’s willingness and suitability. Anything you can do, along with the help of your attorney, to sway the court’s decision in your favor will help your case. This could very well include coming to peace with your spouse for the sake of the children.
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