Do you want to have sole custody of your child? To have sole custody, in the truest sense of the word, you will need to obtain both full physical custody and full legal custody.
The differences between these two types of child custody are significant in terms of what they provide the mother or father who is seeking them.
Let's take a closer look at the difference between physical and legal custody:
Who the child lives with
The parent who the child lives with is the parent with "physical custody" rights. In the past, it was common for only one parent to have full physical custody. Family law courts once felt that it was overwhelmingly important for children to one permanent home. Now, courts feel differently after psychological research has shown that many children benefit greatly from dividing their time living between both their parents' homes. As such, shared physical custody is much more common.
Who makes decisions for the child
The parent who makes important decisions for the child is the parent with "legal custody rights." It's common for parents to share legal custody, even if the child only lives with one parent. Legal custody gives the parent the ability to decide various issues for the child, including health care, education, spiritual, dress and disciplinary decisions, just to name several.
If you want sole custody of your child, you'll need to obtain full custody rights in terms of both these types of child custody. Single mothers, who had their children out of wedlock, may have the easiest time obtaining sole custody of their children like this. However, sole custody rights could be available to any parent given the right conditions.