Joint or Dual Custody encompasses both physical custody, which pertains to parents’ right to have the child live with them as well as legal custody, which refers to parents’ right and responsibility to make decisions and care for their child. Conversely, the child has the right to joint guardianship, which encompasses the right to live with and be cared for by both parents.
Joint custody is also referred to as shared residence or joint care and contact, which means that after separation or divorce, a child lives with both his/her parents, even if the division of time between their homes is not equal.
If a child spends an equal number of nights at both parents, then technically no child maintenance should be payable, irrespective of either parent’s income. Parents can reach a separate agreement to make contributions toward the educational, medical and other expenses of the child, in accordance with their respective means.
Read Maintenance to find out what you may claim for
During the periods when your child stays with you, the other parent does not have to pay you for looking after your child. As a parent, the well-being and day-to-day care of your child is your responsibility for which you cannot expect a reward. Similarly if, due to work or other responsibilities, you are unable to spend as much time with your child and take care of him/her on a daily basis like the other parent does, there is no need to feel you have to compensate that parent.
However, if the number of nights spent at both parents are not equal, then child maintenance could be calculated proportionately. That means the parent who spends less time with the child could pay maintenance to the parent with whom the child lives most of the time. Bear in mind though, that child maintenance is solely intended for the living expenses of the child and not the parent taking care of the child.
Written by Sinta Ebersohn (creator of fairdivorce.co.za – Stellenbosch RSA)