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The Different Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Canada

Child Custody Arrangements Available in Canada

If you and your partner have decided to divorce, then the first thing that will need to be decided is child custody arrangements.  There are a few options available in Canada, and in this article, we will look at them to determine the best option for you and your family.

Child Custody in Canada

Generally speaking, if the parents of a child can come to a decision between themselves regarding custody, there will be no reason for the courts to get involved.  However, if the parents cannot agree, there are a few things that will be considered when making the choice.  The first and most important factor that will be considered is the well-being of the child.  Some other factors include:

  • child custody arrangementsStatus Quo- keeping the child where it has been during the divorce proceedings
  • The child’s preference (if the child is over 12)
  • The ability of the parents to provide the best life for the child
  • Stability of the parent and their home life

Some of the factors that are not considered include:

  • Gender – while a lot of the times the custodial parent is the female, this is not an actual governing rule when deciding custody
  • Past acts by the parent – Unless these acts and behaviours directly relate to the welfare of the child
  • Adultery – A parent that cheats will not have that fact held against them during the custody proceedings

There are other factors that come into play as well, and if may be better to check with a local lawyer for more information

Child Custody Arrangements 

There are a few different child custody arrangements available in Canada:

Joint Custody – Joint custody is the most common form of custody in Canada. It is granted when the parents can get along and cooperate for the sake of the child. In this type of custody, the parents both have equal rights when it comes to making decisions, including medical and religious, for their child.  It does not always mean that the child lives with each parent an equal amount of time, as the parents may think that’s not the best solution for the child

Sole Custody – In this situation, one parent has the power for decision making. The child will also reside with the sole custody parent as well. This does not mean that the other parent will not be able to see the child unless there is an issue with behaviour or anything else that may negatively affect the child.

Split Custody – This is not a situation that the courts will decide on very often as it means that the children will be split up, each living with a different parent. This is not generally ideal, though there are situations where it makes sense. 

Shared Custody – Shared custody is like joint custody in terms of decision making, except that the parents are each entitled to 40% of the child’s time.  This usually means that the parents will live in the same area as each other so as to not disturb the education of the child. 


There are a lot of different rules when it comes to child custody arrangements in Canada, and if you are trying to come to an agreement with the other parent it may be a good idea to hire a mediator or lawyer.