Shared Custody in Ontario: how it works

Suppose you are going through divorce or separation. In that case, it is crucial that your kids feel supported, loved, and safe. Parenting arrangements can help set out things like where the kids will live, the time they will spend with each parent, and the parent who will be responsible for making significant decisions about them. After a separation or divorce, the children will either split their time between both parents, live with one parent, or live with someone else.

A well-thought-out parenting arrangement can help ensure that their children’s safety and health are prioritized. These arrangements can be part of the divorce or separation agreement, informal between the parents (if they successfully agree on a parenting plan), or ordered by the court.

According to, there are different types of parenting arrangements. These include decision-making responsibility, sole decision-making responsibility, joint decision-making responsibility, and de facto decision-making responsibility. This article focuses on shared parenting time, which was formerly known as shared custody.

Shared parenting time

Suppose your child lives with you and your spouse for about the same period in a year. This type of parenting arrangement is known as shared parenting time, which was formerly referred to as shared care or shared custody. That means the child will be spending at least 40 percent of his or her time with each parent. Generally, time is calculated by counting the number of hours a parent is responsible for the kid instead of the number of hours the parent is physically living with a kid.

For instance, the time the child goes to school or is at swimming lessons goes to the specific parent who is responsible for that child during that period.

The court often decides the necessary amount of child support by first analyzing each parent’s gross annual income. In this case, gross annual income means each parent’s income before taxes and any other deductions. There are different ways to determine this amount. First, check line 150 income on each parent’s income tax return or the notice of assessment from CRA. The second way of determining one’s gross annual income involves checking his or her pay stubs for a full year then adding up the earnings before deductions.

The court then subtracts the low amount from the large amount. This is known as the set-off. The parent who is legally required to pay more in child support usually pays the set-off amount to the parent who is required to pay less in child support. The court may also consider the increased expenses associated with the parenting time and the likelihood of each parent meeting those expenses.

Suppose Francis and Mary have shared parenting time for their son. Francis’s gross income is about 70,000 dollars, while Mary’s gross income is 40,000 dollars. In that case, Francis is likely to pay monthly child support of $654 depending on his income, while Mary will pay a monthly child support of about $359 depending on her gross income. The difference between $654 and $359 is 295 dollars. So, Francis is legally required to pay Mary $295 in monthly child support for their son.

Generally, setting up parenting arrangements may be challenging, particularly if the divorcing couple cannot agree on such matters. This is why it is recommended to consult with a family lawyer if you’re filing for divorce or separation.