A child custody case is often very emotional for parents. A child custody case can be hard for many families, particularly when the final decision is under the court’s control. It’s beneficial to your custody case to work with an Ascension Parish child custody lawyer who can represent your interests in negotiations or in court.
Custody determination may be one aspect of a divorce case, or it may be the result of a separation case or paternity case. Parents can work together to create a parenting plan through mediation, or the court will decide how custody is assigned. All legal decisions regarding children must benefit a child’s interests.
At Magnolia Law, we can make it easier to manage a child custody case. Our attorneys, Deanna C. Johnson, Ashley Arinder, and Emily Fields know that a custody determination can become frustrating, even when parents are compromising and working together for their children’s benefit. We can help you negotiate a parenting plan with your co-parent that serves your children’s interests while being fair and beneficial for the entire family.
A court case for custody can be even more emotional than mediation, and we can represent your interests to the court, advocating for the ideal outcome. If you believe your co-parent is legally unfit for custody, we can help you gather and present necessary evidence.
There are two main types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the ability of a parent to make legal decisions for a child. Sole legal custody means only one parent has the ability to make decisions, including deciding a child’s education, healthcare, and other life choices. If parents have joint legal custody, it means they both have a say in these decisions. If the parties have joint custody, one party may be designated as the domiciliary parent. In simple terms, the domiciliary parent is the tiebreaker if the parties do not agree. A custody plan must then determine how parents communicate about these decisions and how to proceed if they can’t reach an agreement.
Physical custody refers to the amount of time a child spends with each parent. Sole custody usually means that the child spends the majority or all of their time with one parent, with limited or no visitation rights provided to the other parent.
In joint physical custody, the child lives with each parent for a certain amount of time. This arrangement could be a 50-50 split, which is common in this jurisdiction if physically feasible. It can be difficult for parents to cooperate and coordinate a joint physical custody arrangement. Courts often feel that this arrangement is optimal because they believe the presence of both parents is valuable for children. Normally, sole custody is only ordered when one parent is unfit.
“Full custody” typically refers to a parent holding sole legal and sole physical custody. It is uncommon for courts to assign this custody arrangement unless one parent is deemed to be unfit in some way. The court may decide a parent is unfit to have custody if there is proof of:
The child’s interests are at the forefront of any custody decision. The court assumes it is in the child’s interests for both parents to be involved in their life unless shown otherwise. A parent who is considered unfit for custody may still receive limited or supervised visitation rights. In extreme cases, a parent is not allowed any visitation.
There are several factors, called the best interest of the child factors, that the judge on a custody case will look at to determine what a child’s interests are and what the most beneficial custody arrangement is. In Ascension Parish, the factors the court will use include:
The court will review evidence of each of these factors and make a decision for legal and physical custody based on the family’s unique situation. Because these cases are so complicated and emotionally stressful, an experienced family law attorney can be incredibly helpful in showing evidence for a specific custody arrangement.
If parents can cooperate, the court typically prefers when parents find a solution for custody and parenting time themselves. This is because parents better know the needs of their family and because it shows that parents are able to work together to benefit their children. The court will review the terms of a finalized parenting agreement and enter it as a court order unless the terms are not in the child’s interests.
A child custody case can have a huge impact on a family’s future. It’s important to have legal counsel to make the process go smoothly and have a professional advocating for your interests. At Magnolia Law, we want to give you the caring and detailed legal service needed for a child custody case. Contact our team today to see how we can help with your family law case.