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Co-Parenting in Nova Scotia: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents


Under the Maintenance and Custody Act, custody of a child is the ongoing responsibility to make decisions in the child’s best interests. This includes day-to-day decisions about the child’s care and upbringing, such as decisions about schooling, religious upbringing, medical care and other major decisions.


In Nova Scotia, the law recognizes that children can have more than one custodian. Joint-custody is when two people are responsible for making decisions in the best interests of the child or children. Sole-custody is when one person has the sole decision-making authority. The Maintenance and Custody Act also allows for split-custody, in which different custodians have responsibility for different children.


When it comes to negotiating and deciding on custody arrangements, the law in Nova Scotia encourages parents to reach agreements they can both live with, without the need to go to court. If an agreement cannot be reached, either parent can go to court, and the court will make a determination about custody after considering the best interests of the child.


Child Support

Both parents are legally obligated to financially support their children. In Nova Scotia, the Child Support Guidelines set out the amount of financial support that must be paid for each case. The amount of child support payable depends on several factors, including the number of children, each parent’s income, the child’s needs, the amount of time each parent has the child, and any special health or educational needs of the child.


In cases where parents share custody of the children, the non-custodial parent usually pays the custodial parent at least part of the child support. In cases where one parent has sole-custody, the non-custodial parent pays the whole amount of child support to the custodial parent. In both cases, the Courts in Nova Scotia can change the amount of child support payable if the circumstances of either parent change and the change is significant enough to justify a change in the amount.


Co-Parenting Expenses

Nova Scotia law requires each parent to bear the costs associated with their own time with the children, such as cost of transportation, food, clothing, and entertainment. If both parents share custody, some agreements may provide for one parent to pay the other a portion of those expenses. The law in Nova Scotia specifically states that a court cannot order either parent pay expenses in addition to the required child support, except in exceptional cases, such as extraordinary costs associated with medical care or special education. (Section 15(3), Maintenance and Custody Act)


Parental Rights and Decisions

As custodial parents, both parents are entitled to make day-to-day decisions about the child’s upbringing, including decisions about religious upbringing, schooling, medical care, and other major decisions. Where both parents share joint-custody, the law in Nova Scotia encourages the parents to co-operate with one another in making these decisions to the best of their ability. This includes taking into consideration matters such as the wishes of the child and any other special needs of the child.


In cases where there has been a previous court order or agreement regarding the joint-custody of the child, a court cannot change that order or agreement without evidence that there has been a significant change in the circumstances or welfare of the child. (Section 10(1), Maintenance and Custody Act)


Creating A Parenting Plan

When parents separate or divorce, the law encourages them to come to an agreement regarding the custody, access, and care of their children. This agreement is called a parenting plan, and it outlines how the parents will share the responsibility for raising the children and how they will work together in the best interests of the children.


Under the law, parenting plans must be in writing and should take into account the best interests of the child. Additionally, parenting plans can include details about which parent will be the custodial parent, how contact will be arranged, how the parents will make decisions for the child, and how child support payments will be made. (Section 13, Maintenance and Custody Act)


Visitation Rights

Under the law in Nova Scotia, both parents have the right to see their children, regardless of whether they share custody or one parent has sole custody. Visitation rights are usually discussed and negotiated between the parents, with the assistance of a lawyer or mediator if necessary. If an agreement cannot be reached, either parent can apply to the court for a court order granting visitation rights.


If the court grants visitation rights, the order will generally determine how much time the non-custodial parent can spend with the children, as well as when and how the visits will take place. Visitation rights can also be modified in certain circumstances, such as if there is a significant change in the welfare or circumstances of the child, or if there is a significant change in either parent’s circumstances. (Section 15(4), Maintenance and Custody Act)



Under the Maintenance and Custody Act, the court has the discretion to order the parents to attend mediation, which provides an opportunity for the parents to work out any issues of custody and access. Mediation is an effective way for parents to openly communicate their needs and make shared decisions about their children, and is often much faster and less expensive than going to court.


Mediators are trained professionals who will try to facilitate solutions that meet both parent’s needs, while putting the interests of the children first. A mediator will not make decisions or give legal advice, but can help both parents find common ground and arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. Any agreements reached in mediation are binding, so it is important to have legal advice before making any decisions. (Section 12, Maintenance and Custody Act)



Co-parenting in Nova Scotia is complicated and can be a difficult process for both parents and children. While co-parenting can be difficult and challenging, it is important for both parents to recognize their legal responsibilities to their children, in particular their financial obligations. It is also important to remain respectful and to look for ways to cooperate with the other parent and make decisions in the best interests of the children.


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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