What is Joint Custody?

Joint custody is a type of child custody arrangement in which both parents are involved in the care and decision-making process for their child.  The definitions of various parenting arrangements are not fixed and the use of the terms describing child custody arrangements is inconsistently used in case law in Ontario.  In fact, there appear to be at least three different types of joint custody orders, but the court or the parties often combine aspects of different custodial arrangements to suit their specific circumstances.


In the case law, joint custody may refer variously to: (1) arrangements that provide the parents with shared physical custody of the child, commonly known as “shared custody”; (2) arrangements that provide both parents with shared decision-making authority over child-rearing issues, commonly known as joint “legal” custody; (3) arrangements that allow each parent make day-to-day decisions regarding the child, without consultation of the other parent, while the child in his or her care.  Where the parents’ authority over significant decisions is split between the parent avoid the need for consultation between the parties.  This can be a beneficial arrangement for both the child and the parents, as it allows both parties to have a say in the child’s upbringing and can encourage cooperation and communication between the parents.


There are several different types of joint custody arrangements that can be put in place, depending on the specific needs and circumstances of the family. One type of joint custody is shared legal custody, in which both parents have equal authority in making decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as their education, health care, and religious upbringing. This means that both parents have the right to be informed about and involved in important decisions related to the child’s welfare.


Another type of joint custody is shared physical custody, in which the child spends significant time with both parents and may have two homes. This arrangement can be beneficial for the child, as it allows them to maintain relationships with both parents and can provide a sense of stability and consistency in their daily life.

Another form of joint custody is known as parallel parenting, in which each parent is responsible for making day-to-day decisions about the child while they are in their care. Major decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as their education and health care, may be split between the parents and made without the need for consultation. This type of arrangement can be beneficial for parents who have difficulty communicating or cooperating with each other, as it allows them to co-parent effectively while still maintaining separate households.


It’s important to note that joint custody arrangements do not necessarily affect the parents’ financial obligations to support the child or the other parent’s access to the child. These matters are typically addressed separately in custody arrangements. The specific terms of a joint custody arrangement will depend on the individual circumstances of the case and will be determined by a court or agreed upon by the parents.

If you are seeking joint custody of your children, it is important to consult a divorce lawyer about your matter.  Tailor Law’s Mississauga divorce lawyers will evaluate the merits of your case and advise you accordingly If you require assistance, please give us a call at 905-366-0202.

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