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What is custody? What is joint custody?

Contrary to the widespread misconception that custody is about which parent spends the most time with a child, custody is actually about having the legal right to make major decisions about your child’s care and lifestyle. The child still may spend quite a bit of time with both parents.

Children who are in the joint custody of both parents may not necessarily split their time equally between homes, and could still be in the primary care of one parent. Joint custody essentially means that both parents must agree on major decisions about their child’s care and lifestyle. In situations where couples have joint custody, neither parent can make decisions like this without consulting the other parent. If you disagree with your partner on one of these areas, you must either work it out together or return to court to settle the dispute.

If parents demonstrate that they are unable to reach agreement on major parenting decisions, the court may make an order for sole custody. In some situations, parents may have an arrangement where they are required to consult on certain matters such as schooling or extracurricular activities, but where one parent has ultimate authority on other matters such as religion.