Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Joint Custody Definition:

A child custody Court decision that both parents share joint legal custody and joint physical custody.

Related Terms: Shared Custody, Guardianship, Joyce Model of Joint Guardianship, Bird's Nest Custody, Split Custody, Custody, Parallel Parenting

A child custody decision which means that both parents share joint legal custody and joint physical custody.

This is not very common and many professionals have taken to referring to "joint legal custody but sole maternal physical custody" as "joint custody".

In T. v. L., Justice Klebuc wrote:

"Joint custody means an arrangement whereby the parents share responsibility in making major decisions concerning their child’s welfare, be the welfare of a long- or short-term nature. Whether the child resides only with one parent or spends an equal amount of time with each parent is of secondary importance to the arrangement."

In a 1982 case written by Justice Bielby of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, Colwell v Colwell, these words:

"In this decision the term joint custody means the sharing of responsibility for making important and long-term decisions affecting the children by both parents, i.e., a joint exercise of normal parental authority. The actual physical care and control of a child is designated to one parent, who is responsible for making decisions on day-to-day matters. "

In Lennox v. Frender, Justice Seaton of the British Columbia Court of Appeal incorporated these words in her judicial opinion:

"Parents with joint custody have the right to continue to act as parents, as well as the responsibility of sharing in such important decisions as the child's health, education and spiritual and general welfare. Such an order retains for both parents participation and influence in the child's life....

"(T)o award to both parents the joint custody of a child ... is to clothe both parents with equal parental control over, and equal ultimate parental responsibility for, the care, upbringing and education of the child....

"Joint custody, therefore, is a sharing of power or control over the course of a child's life both physically and emotionally.

"Under an order for joint custody the parents have equal responsibility and control in the upbringing of a child, although the child might ordinarily reside with one parent."




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