When going through a divorce, one of the highest-stress topics is the children. Deciding on custody and arrangements for any children involved in a divorce has the potential to be a very hot button subject.

Depending on your relationship with your ex-spouse, it is not unusual to believe that your children would be better off dealing with only one parent. This arrangement is most commonly referred to as sole custody. According to Findlaw, however, it is very rare for one parent to end up with sole custody of children after a divorce.

What is sole custody?

There are two components to child custody. These components are legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on behalf of children. These may include educational choices, medical care choices, and religious upbringing. Sole legal custody means only one parent gets to make these decisions.

Physical custody refers to where the child actually lives. In a sole physical custody situation, the children will primarily live with one parent and the other parent will usually have visitation.

Why is sole custody rare?

Sole custody used to be the most common custody solution, particularly if children were young. It was most common for children to be in the sole custody of the mother.

However, modern research shows that children do best when both parents raise them, even if both parents are no longer married and no longer together. This is why co-parenting is the most common custody situation after divorce, we’re both parents share physical and legal custody of any children.

The only time that the courts give sole custody is if one parent has a history of violence or is struggling with addiction.