The differences between the 4 types of custody orders are as follows:
Temporary Custody Order
When custody proceedings are going on a decision has to be made as to where the child will live in the interim period (or temporarily) until the final order has been granted. Therefore, if the parties cannot agree on the living arrangements themselves the judge will make an order for temporary custody. One issue associated with temporary custody is that it usually gives the parent (to whom it is awarded) a slight advantage over the other because judges, when making a final order, won’t want to disrupt the status quo or interfere unnecessarily with the living arrangement that the child has become used to.
Sole Custody Order
Sole custody gives one parent the exclusive decision-making authority in his or her child’s life when it comes to the child’s upbringing or well-being. Therefore, the custodial parent will have the ability to make all decisions relating to education and schooling, health and religion (among other things). However, if you are granted sole custody of your child you still need to consult with your former spouse/partner before making any final decisions.
Joint Custody Order
It may also be the case that, either through agreement or court order, you and your former spouse/partner are given joint custody of the child. Essentially, this means that both of you share, at all times, the legal rights and responsibilities associated with custody even though you live apart. You are both entitled to make important “final” decisions about your child’s upbringing and well-being. Recall though that you must still consult with one another before doing so. This form of custody also requires a lot of cooperation between you and your former spouse/partner.
Shared Custody Order
Shared custody does not affect the custodial arrangement agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court. Instead it relates to child support and so if you “share” custody with your former spouse/partner it will not affect the custodial parent’s power to make final decisions. Rather, shared custody may allow the access parent to pay less child support if he or she can show that the child spends at least 40% of the time with him or her.