The Post-Divorce-Parenting Glossary

Divorced-Parenting Term

Full Custody


   What is full custody of a child?

   In almost all example, full custody and sole custody mean the same thing.  In most states, full custody is not a term that has legal significance.  In other words, full custody is a term uses by lay persons to likely refer to what is really sole custody.
   It should be noted that different jurisdictions have different legal definitions.  In Texas, for example, a parent doesn't have child custody.  They have something called "conservatorship", which for practical purposes can be thought of as custody.  Full custody might exist as a different term in some jurisdictions now or in the future, but sole custody is the more common and preferred term for full custody.


   Could the term full custody refer to a difference in legal and physical custody?

   Child custody consists of two components - physical custody and legal custody.  Some might mean that full custody implies have both sole physical custody and sole legal custody, while sole custody doesn't define either.  The issue with this is that it introduces confusion, and it is simply easier to state out that this parent has sole physical custody and joint legal custody, or joint physical custody and sole legal custody.


   How does having full custody or sole custody affect child support calculations?

   The more parenting time a parent has, the larger the amount of financial burden they are assumed to have to cover child expenses.  This means they, as the primary custodial parent, will likely get more child support from the non custodial parent than they would if they had shared physical custody.
   Note that child support calculations are also based on income, so if the non-custodial parent earns significantly less than the custodial parent, then it is possible that no child support would be paid.  It is even possible that the custodial parent would pay the non custodial parent child support.

WiseGeek Article - Full Custody
Explains what full custody is, when it might be awarded, and some other issues that divorced parents may wish to consider with regard to full custody questions.

full custody, sole custody, sole custody vs. full custody

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