Child custody agreements are extremely important in guaranteeing the stability and well-being of the children involved in divorce or separation. The legal system in Australia distinguishes between joint custody and shared parenting as the two main types of custody agreements.
Let’s examine the distinctions between joint custody vs shared parenting and go over how they affect families dealing with the difficulties of post-separation parenting.
Before diving into the difference between joint custody vs shared parenting, let us first understand these terms. A situation where both parents are legally responsible for making decisions about their children’s well-being is referred to as joint custody.
On significant issues including education, healthcare, and religious upbringing, the parents work together under a shared decision-making process. It does not imply shared or equal physical custody, though.
On the other hand, shared parenting is a more comprehensive idea that includes both shared physical custody and cooperative decision-making. It underlines how crucial it is for kids to continue to have meaningful relationships with both parents even after their parents split up.
Recognising the value of parental involvement in children’s lives, shared parenting seeks to provide them with a well-rounded upbringing.
The Family Law Act of 1975 in Australia does not define the phrases “joint custody” or “shared parenting,” but it does recognise the value of parental responsibility and the meaningful participation of both parents in their children’s life.
Even while the Act does not specify any particular custody arrangements, it does offer recommendations on how custody decisions should be made while taking the child’s best interests into account. The following are the key distinctions between joint custody and shared parenting based on Australian legal precedent:
Joint Custody: It involves collaborative decision-making on important matters such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
Shared Parenting: Shared parenting encompasses both joint decision-making and shared physical custody. It recognises the importance of maintaining a meaningful and ongoing relationship between children and both parents after separation.
Physical Custody and Time Spent with Children:
Joint Custody: Joint custody does not necessarily imply equal or shared physical custody. It primarily focuses on the joint decision-making authority, and the children may reside primarily with one parent while the other has visitation rights or defined periods of access.
Shared Parenting: Shared parenting includes both joint decision-making and shared physical custody. It aims to provide children with substantial time spent with both parents, where they have regular and ongoing contact and reside with each parent for a substantial period.
Emphasis on Parental Involvement:
Joint Custody: Joint custody recognises the importance of both parents’ involvement in the child’s life, particularly in decision-making. It encourages cooperation and collaboration between parents for the benefit of the child.
Shared Parenting: Shared parenting places a stronger emphasis on the child’s ongoing relationship with both parents. It recognises the value of each parent’s involvement in the child’s daily life and upbringing.
Best Interests of the Child:
Joint Custody: The court considers the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements, taking into account factors such as their safety, well-being, and the ability of each parent to meet their needs.
Shared Parenting: Like joint custody, shared parenting prioritises the best interests of the child. It recognises the benefits of children having a meaningful relationship with both parents unless it is contrary to their best interests.
Level of Cooperation and Communication:
Joint Custody: Joint custody arrangements require a certain level of cooperation and effective communication between parents to make joint decisions. However, the physical custody arrangement may allow for more autonomy in day-to-day decision-making by the parent with whom the child primarily resides.
Shared Parenting: Shared parenting typically requires a higher level of cooperation and communication between parents due to the shared physical custody arrangement. Both parents need to collaborate on various aspects of the child’s life and coordinate schedules and logistics.
Our child custody lawyers offer comprehensive assistance to clients dealing with such matters, including shared parenting. We recently helped a client who was navigating joint parenting and understanding the difference between joint custody vs shared parenting.
We gave them specialised advice since we saw that their objective was keeping a close bond with their kids. We made sure they understood their rights and obligations by outlining the legal procedure. Our group gathered pertinent data, including the child’s preferences and parenting skills.
We developed a persuasive argument that emphasised the client’s dedication to a secure and loving environment. We negotiated a shared parenting agreement to facilitate communication and encourage cooperation.
It’s crucial to remember that in Australia, child custody judgments are made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the particular circumstances of each family.
There are several differences between joint custody vs shared parenting, but the focus is always on promoting the best interests of the child and maintaining their well-being and stability throughout the separation or divorce process.
Director of Melbourne Family Lawyers, Hayder manages the practice and oversees the running of all of the files in the practice. Hayder has an astute eye for case strategy and running particularly complex matters in the family law system.