When the time to determine child custody arises, there are two aspects that must be agreed upon: physical and legal custody. Physical custody deals with whose home the children live in. Legal custody, however, deals with which parent has the legal right to make major decisions about the child. Some divorcing parents in Connecticut automatically assume they want to have sole legal custody of their children, but there are pros and cons to this type of child custody arrangement to consider.
When a parent wants sole legal custody, he or she is assuming the complete responsibility of making major decisions for the child. This may include subjects such as health care, religion and education. There are times this ability would be beneficial, especially if the second parent lives some distance away.
Having the ability to make medical decisions without the second parent's consent can speed up the process of the child getting treatment he or she may need. One parent having the ability to make major decisions may allow there to be more consistency in the child's life. The child has a clearer understanding of what to expect when the situation doesn't change from week-to-week. Also, sole legal custody is beneficial when an absent or uncaring parent can no longer use his or her decisions as a leveraging tool against the other parent.
While there are benefits to sole legal custody, there are some negatives aspects to it as well. The responsibility of making all of the major life decisions for the child or children can be a heavy burden. Sometimes a parent seeks sole legal custody just so he or she doesn't have to consult with the other parent, take his or her opinion into consideration or even communicate with him or her regularly. These are not good reasons to seek sole legal child custody if the second parent is an active, willing, competent, caring parent.
While there are benefits to sole legal child custody, there may be times it is not in the child's best interest. The Connecticut family court will make its decision based on what seems to be best for the child. A parent should consult with an experienced attorney that can guide him or her through the pros and cons of the arrangement, helping to ensure the best situation for the child.