In January, Ludacris was awarded full custody of his 13-month-old daughter, Cai. The award was the result of a long and contentious court battle, during which Cai's mother, Tamika Fuller, even went so far as trying to use the rapper's song lyrics against him. However, in the end, Ludacris, whose real name is Chris Bridges, prevailed.
"Full custody," the form of custody awarded to Ludacris, is not a term recognized in Pennsylvania. The equivalent terms in Pennsylvania are "sole legal custody" and "sole physical custody." Sole legal custody is the right of one individual to legal custody of the child which means the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. Sole physical custody is the right of one individual to exclusive physical custodial time with the child. When one parent has sole physical, it is possible that the other parent may have some sort of limited visitation or supervised physical custody. It is unclear if Tamika Fuller will have supervised physical custody of Cai.
In a statement to People magazine, Ludacris said, "I am gratified that the judge found me to be the most fit and proper parent to have primary physical custody of our beautiful daughter." However, if Ludacris had litigated his case in a Pennsylvania court, the outcome would not have been based on which party is the better parent per se; in Pennsylvania, the courts consider what is in the best interests of the child when making a custodial determination.
The court must consider 15 different factors, as well as "any other relevant factor," when determining what is in the best interests of the child. These factors include which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact with the child and the other party, any abuse committed by either party, the parental duties performed by each party, which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child, which party is more likely to attend to the daily, physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child, and the attempts of one parent to alienate the child from the other parent.
In Pennsylvania, the award of sole physical and legal custody to one parent is a drastic measure reserved for severe instances such as when physical, mental or sexual abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, and mental issues are present. If you need help with a custody matter, contact McMorrow Law at 724-940-0100.