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Co-Parenting in Ontario: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents


Under the provincial Family Law Act (R.S.O. 1990), custody of a child can be sole, joint or shared. Section 24 of the Act states that sole custody is where one parent has "exclusive decision-making responsibility for any and all matters that affect the child and has physical custody of the child." Joint custody is where the parents have "equal responsibility for the decision making regarding all matters that affect the child and have physical custody of the child on an alternating basis or any other arrangement agreed upon". Shared custody (or "split custody") is where "each parent has physical custody of one or more of the children who are subject to the custody order and also has all or part of the responsibility for the decision-making regarding all matters that affect the child or children being custody."


Child Support

Under the Family Law Act (Ontario Regulation 387/05), child support is intended to provide the child with living expenses, such as food, clothing, shelter, and so on. The Federal Child Support Guidelines set out the applicable formulae to calculate how much support must be paid by the paying parent. Typically, the paying parent must pay money to the other parent every month until the child reaches the age of majority.


Co-Parenting Expenses

In Ontario, the Expenses of Children Act (Ontario Regulation 285/95) states that parents must contribute to "essential expenses" for children. These essential expenses are typically viewed as the everyday needs of the child and include food, clothing, housing, medical care and educational expenses. Both parents are expected to contribute to these essential expenses, in accordance with their respective incomes and their incomes relative to each other. Typically, the parent with the higher income will contribute more toward common expenses like housing, while the parent with the lower income will contribute more toward educational expenses.


Parental Rights and Decisions

Ontario's Child and Family Services Act (Ontario Regulation 279/90) outlines the rights and responsibilities of each parent. In particular, it states that the parent with custody of the child has the right to make decisions concerning the child's upbringing and care. These decisions include decisions relating to the child's health and education, religious instruction, activities and participation in extracurricular activities, and other matters Vitally important to the child's upbringing. The non-custodial parent may also have the right to provide input into important decisions regarding the child, depending on the nature of the agreement in place between the two parents.


Parenting Plan

The Family Law Act (Ontario Regulation 406/07) provides for parents to enter into a parenting plan, which outlines the responsibilities of each parent for providing for the care of the children. This plan should include a range of topics, such as which parent is responsible for providing financial support, deciding on the child's upbringing and education, and determining which parent will have primary responsibility for the child. The parenting plan may also cover where the child will live, the type of contact the child will have with both parents, and how certain items such as holidays, special occasions, and vacation time will be divided between the parents.


Visitation Rights

The Family Law Act (Ontario Regulation 548/13) outlines the rights of parents to have contact with their children. This may include regular visits, such as taking the child on a weekend, as well as telephone calls, emails and other forms of communication. The non-custodial parent is usually given generous visitation rights, provided both parties can agree on the arrangements. This can include the right to attend school functions, special occasions and other activities involving the child.



Under the Family Law Act (Ontario Regulation 548/13), mediation is an option for parents who are unable to reach an agreement on how to parent their children. This process involves a third-party mediator listening to both parents and trying to help them reach a settlement on a range of issues, including child support, custody and access. Mediation is cost effective and relatively quick, and can help avoid the potentially lengthy and expensive court process. It is an important tool for parents who need to resolve their disputes in an amicable way.



Divorced or separated parents in Ontario have a number of laws that define their rights and responsibilities for parenting. This blog has looked at the different aspects of co-parenting in Ontario, from custody and child support, to co-parenting expenses, parenting plans and mediation. All parents have a responsibility to understand the applicable laws and ensure that their rights and responsibilities are respected at all times. By following the applicable laws, parents can ensure that the best interests of their children are looked after and that the children's needs are at the forefront of the co-parenting arrangement.


Fact Check and Resources

In crafting this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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