Joint Custody and Shared Parenting: Definition and Differences

joint custody vs shared parenting

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.

Shared Parenting Definition

Shared parenting is a more comprehensive concept encompassing both shared physical custody and cooperative decision-making. It emphasizes the importance of maintaining meaningful relationships between children and both parents even after a separation. Recognizing the significance of parental involvement in children’s lives, shared parenting aims to provide them with a holistic upbringing that draws on the contributions of both parents.

Care Percentage

Care percentage refers to the division of physical care or time spent with a child between separated or divorced parents. It quantifies the amount of time each parent has primary responsibility for the day-to-day care of the child. This includes activities like providing meals, helping with homework, attending appointments, and participating in extracurricular activities. Care percentage focuses on the practical aspects of parenting and the direct involvement of each parent in the child’s daily life.

Joint Custody Definition

Joint custody refers to a scenario in which both parents bear legal responsibility for making decisions regarding their children’s well-being. This entails collaborative decision-making on significant matters such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. However, it does not necessarily imply equal or shared physical custody.

Child Custody Percentage

It refers to the division of legal custody or decision-making authority for a child. Child custody percentage focuses on legal authority and decision-making power. It’s important to note that the specific terminology and definitions may vary depending on the jurisdiction and legal framework in which they are used.

How to Determine Child Custody Percentage

Computing child custody percentage in Australia involves a case-specific assessment based on the unique circumstances and the best interests of the child. While there is no standardised formula for how to determine child custody percentage, here are some general steps that may be followed:

  1. Gather Information: Collect relevant information about the child, both parents and their involvement in the child’s life. This includes factors such as the child’s age, school schedule, extracurricular activities, and the availability of each parent.
  2. Consider Parenting Arrangements: Evaluate the proposed or existing parenting arrangements, including the time each parent spends with the child. This includes weekdays, weekends, school holidays, special occasions, and vacations.
  3. Assess Overnights: Determine the number of overnights each parent has with the child. This can be calculated by counting the number of nights the child spends at each parent’s residence over a specified period, such as a month or a year.
  4. Factor in Daytime Care: In addition to overnights, consider the amount of daytime care provided by each parent. This includes time spent on activities like school drop-offs and pickups, meals, and general care during the day.
  5. Evaluate Parental Responsibilities: Consider the allocation of parental responsibilities, such as decision-making authority for the child’s education, healthcare, religion, and general welfare. This can be a factor in determining the weight given to each parent’s involvement in the child’s life.
  6. Weigh Other Relevant Factors: Take into account other relevant factors, such as the child’s wishes (depending on their age and maturity), the ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs, the strength of the parent-child relationship, and any considerations related to safety or well-being.
  7. Consult Legal Advice: It is crucial to consult with a family law professional or seek legal advice specific to your case. They can guide the factors relevant to your situation and help ensure compliance with Australian family law principles.

Remember that child custody arrangements are highly individualised, and the court ultimately makes the determination based on the best interests of the child. The court’s decision may not solely rely on a strict calculation of percentages but considers the overall circumstances and factors outlined in the Family Law Act 1975.

Shared Parenting vs Joint Custody

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:

Decision-Making Authority:

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.

Joint Custody: It involves collaborative decision-making on important matters such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.

Physical Custody and Time Spent with Children:

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.

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.

Emphasis on Parental Involvement:

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.

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.

Best Interests of the Child:

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.

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.

Level of Cooperation and Communication:

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.

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.

Helping Our Clients: Joint Custody vs Shared Parenting

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.

Joint Custody vs Shared Parenting

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.

2 thoughts on “Joint Custody and Shared Parenting: Definition and Differences”

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