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Joint versus shared custody

On Behalf of | May 6, 2022 | Family Law

When a couple with children gets a divorce, these individuals will negotiate the custody of their children. However, sometimes, the custody terminology can be somewhat confusing or seem redundant. This is the case with joint and shared custody.

Some may think the words “joint” and “shared” mean the same thing with regard to custody, but there are key differences in the application of joint and shared custody.

What is joint custody?

In a joint custody agreement, both parents have equal legal custody of their children. However, their physical custody may not be a 50%/50% split. Therefore, both parents have the legal right to make major decisions about their children and their upbringing, from where they go to school and what doctors they see to their religious education and childcare.

What is shared custody?

Shared custody is a type of joint custody. However, where joint custody is more concerned with parents’ legal rights to the child, shared custody focuses on what portion of their lives they spend living with each parent. In these cases, the children spend equal time living with each parent, at least as close to equal time as possible. These terms may include spending one week, one month or six months with one parent before the child moves in with the other parent for the same duration of time. In addition, each parent should receive visitation rights when the child is not living with him or her.

Determine your priorities with regard to your children. Even distribution of both legal and physical custody is not always possible. However, be open during custody negotiations, you can find a solution that balances your and your former spouse’s legal and physical custody rights.


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