The most common variety of child custody after divorce is joint custody, or co-parenting. This is when you share parenting rights and duties with your ex-spouse. Co-parenting has many benefits for children.

However, co-parenting with a difficult ex-spouse may not sound like a tantalizing prospect to you. Many parents would prefer to hold sole custody. However, the chances of this are rare. According to Findlaw, sole custody is for situations where one parent either has a history of abuse or struggles with addiction.

How is sole custody different from joint custody?

There are two components to child custody. The first is legal custody. In joint custody, both parents share legal custody. This means that both parents jointly make decisions regarding the child’s religious upbringing, medical care, education, and more. In sole custody, only one parent has the right to make these decisions.

The second component to child custody is physical custody. This refers to where the child lives. In joint custody, the child will move between two residences. In sole custody, the child will live with the custodial parent while the non-custodial parent usually has visitation rights. Depending on the situation, a third-party may monitor visitation to ensure the safety of the child.

How can I co-parent with my difficult ex-spouse?

Unless there are mitigating circumstances, it is unlikely that you will receive sole custody of children. It is beneficial to take a different view on your new relationship with your ex-spouse. You are no longer lovers; rather, you are now co-parents. Keeping your new relationship professional and not personal will go a long way toward ensuring co-parenting success.