​In some ways. “Custody” is a word used in the Divorce Act but not in the Family Law Act. This means that couples who were married and then divorced will have court orders that refer to custody, while couples who were not married and then separated will have a court order that refers to guardianship and parenting. The concepts of custody and guardianship are very similar as both relate to the decision-making powers of parents. A parent with sole custody of a child has sole decision-making powers.  However, if one parent has sole custody, the other parent does not lose their guardianship of that child but they do have limited rights and powers. 

The term “joint custody” usually means that the parents must make decisions together but does not refer to how much time each parent spends with their child. However, the word custody does sometimes refer to how often a child spends time their parents, for example, if parents have “shared custody” this means that the parents have near-equal time with their child. In such cases these parents will almost always also have “joint custody” as it relate to decision-making.


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