Types of Child Custody

Types of Child Custody

The Different Types of Child Custody and What They Mean

When a marriage that involves children ends, one of the biggest challenges is agreeing on how the children will continue to live and interact with both parents. There are several factors that the court will consider in order to decide whether a parent has the ability to take care and support the child. However, all child custody matters in Canada are resolved with one goal in mind – to focus on the best interests of the child.

What is child custody?

This is a legal term that is often used to describe the practical relationship between a parent/guardian and a child. It stipulates the rights and responsibilities that each parent has for taking care of their children. Custody orders give parents the right to make important decisions for the child especially on matters of education, religion, and healthcare.

The 3 types of child custody in Canada

    Joint custody

    When both parents can cooperate and make decisions about the child, a joint custody arrangement is preferred. Both parents are involved in making decisions on matters such as schooling and religious upbringing for the children. There are two types of joint custody:

    • Joint legal custody: One parent plays an active role in the day-to-day upbringing of the child even though both have input on major decisions in the child’s life. The other parent may have regular visitation rights.
    • Joint physical custody: With this type of arrangement, both parents spend at least 40% of the time with the child.
  1. Sole Custody

    With this arrangement, only one parent is granted custody of the children. This is often the case when the other parent is violent, abusive, or incapable of meeting the child’s needs or making important decisions for them. Children reside with the parent who is granted sole custody, and the other parent may or may not have access and visitation rights. The parent who is given sole custody makes the important decisions regarding the child. He/she is usually responsible for the day-to-day upbringing of the child and making sure all needs are met. By allowing the non-custodial parent visitation rights, he/she can remain in the child’s life.

  2. Shared Custody

    The difference between joint custody and shared custody is that, in the case of shared custody, parents not only make important decisions for the child together but also share physical custody of the child. It is a form of joint custody as mentioned above. Shared custody arrangements vary greatly in different situations. In some, the children may not reside equally with the parents. The child may have a primary residence and a secondary residence where they can stay with the other parent on weekends and holidays. For this arrangement to work, parents must be committed to working together and make wise decisions that benefit the children.

What suits your family?

Finding the custody arrangement that is ideal for you and your children is imperative for any couple going through a separation or divorce. In order to develop a positive custody agreement, our lawyers can help you analyze the routines and needs of your family.

At our law firm, we provide access to experienced divorce lawyers, mediators and counsellors who can help you learn more about the different options of child custody and find out what’s right for you.