Sole custody means that the children reside with the custodial parent, subject to the visitation rights of the other parent. The custodial parent has full decision making authority on issues related to the children such as medical care, choice of schools, and religious upbringing.
Joint custody means joint decision making authority on major issues such as medical care, choice of schools and religious upbringing. In the event the parents disagree on an issue vital to the well-being of the children, the joint custody statute requires that the parents attempt to settle the dispute through mediation before either one has a right to go back to court. Joint custody does not mean equal time with each parent. Joint custody has nothing to do with how much time the children spend with each parent. Joint custody refers only to joint decision making and the use of mediation before returning to court.