KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: Sole Custody & Joint Custody?

Posted by heritagelawoffices on Jan 19, 2017 in Blog, Family Law

Since it has to do with the care and upkeep of children, custody is a very serious matter in our justice system. While a separation or divorce can be a difficult and emotional time, it is important to know the consequences of certain agreements. Use Heritage Law’s quick hit list below as a guideline to the different types of custody in Alberta– and then contact or visit us with any questions or concerns you might have!


One parent has final say in all decisions regarding the child and their home is the child’s permanent residence. The parent without custody may be involved in some decisions, may have some access to the child and may even have some independence during this access– but none of this is guaranteed when the other parent has sole custody.


The key here is that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal custody. Whatever the time split, the parents share custody and are expected to cooperate when making decisions that impact the child. Living arrangements and access time differ on a case-by-case basis.


Sometimes known as joint physical custody, shared custody is a version of joint custody where the child lives with each parent for at least 40% of the time. This means a roughly even split of residence and decisions are likewise made jointly.


In families with two or more children, it may be best for the family if they make their primary residences with different parents. While courts are inclined to keep siblings together, one or more children may be old enough to opt for one parent over another. In most of these cases, the parents operate under the rules of joint custody.

The definitions above are only summaries and do not represent every nuance of custody agreements. If you have or are anticipating custody issues, contact or visit Heritage Law today!