Shared Custody

Shared child custody is when both parents have joint legal and/or physical custody of their children. This means that the children will spend time living with both parents, and that both parents will be involved in making decisions about their care.

Shared child custody can be a great arrangement for families, as it allows children to maintain relationships with both parents. It can also be less stressful for parents, as they can share the responsibility of caring for their children.

What is Shared Child Custody?

Shared child custody can be arranged in a variety of ways, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The arrangement that works best for your family will depend on a number of factors, including the age of the children, the parenting schedules of each parent, the geographic distance between the homes of each parent, and more.

If you and your co-parent are interested in pursuing shared child custody, it’s important to discuss your plans with a family lawyer to ensure that you are both on the same page and that your arrangement is legally sound.

What are the Benefits of Shared Child Custody?

There are many benefits to shared child custody, both for the parents and for the children. Some of the benefits of shared child custody include:

  • Both parents remain actively involved in their children’s lives.
  • The children have a chance to bond with both parents.
  • The children have stability and routine in their lives.
  • The children learn to adapt to different situations and to be flexible.
  • The parents can share the responsibility for parenting, which can be beneficial for both parents.

Types of Custody Arrangements in Ontario

In Ontario Child Custody agreements generally fall within these specific types:

  • Sole Child Custody

In a Sole Custody arrangement between both parents, the court has determined that it is in the child’s best interest to be under the primary care of one parent only. This parent may it be the father or mother will have the final say on all important decisions relating to the health, education, and well-being of the child or children. Often, sole custody agreements are sought in cases where parents are unable to co-parent or domestic abuse threatens the safety of the child.

  • Joint Child Custody

In a Joint Custody arrangement, both parties have an equal say in major decisions with respect to the health, education, and welfare of their child. However, a child will usually have a “primary residence” with one of the parents.

  • Shared Child Custody

Shared Custody arrangements specify that both parents care for the child equally and both parents shall have the right to make all major decisions with respect to the health, education, and welfare of the child. The Child may live with one parent for one week or several days and then with the other parent for the same duration of time. Our family law lawyers will provide legal counsel to arrange your child custody schedule so that it meets your best interests and the best interests of your child.

Some parents try to care for the Child for more than 40% of the time, based on the belief that they will not have to pay child support to their spouse as a result of entering into a Shared Custody arrangement. A recent Supreme Court of Canada case held that just because a parent has more than 40% parenting time does not necessarily mean that they have a reduced child support obligation. The court held that a complicated formula must be used in order to determine if it is justified to reduce the child support obligation.


Shared child custody in Ontario is a viable option for parents who are willing to cooperate and put their children’s needs first. It can be a challenge to come to an agreement on parenting arrangements, but it is possible with the help of a lawyer. If you are considering shared child custody, we encourage you to speak with a legal professional to learn more about your options and what would be best for your family.

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