Child custody and visitation cases may be part of a divorce case or a separation case. Even when parents are cooperating to create a parenting plan, they may have different wishes or believe different things about what is most beneficial for their child. Discussions can go more smoothly with the help of a Livingston Parish child custody lawyer. A lawyer can also represent a parent’s interests during child custody court decisions.
In a child custody case, a parenting plan and each parent’s rights are decided through an agreement or determined by the court. It can be a very emotional process for parents and for children, especially when the final decision that changes a family’s life is outside of their control.
The attorneys at Magnolia Law understand the stress inherent to a child custody case. We have experience with amicable custody cases and experience in high-conflict and contentious custody cases. We can help you navigate your custody case in or out of court, working to protect the rights and interests of you and your children. We help parents negotiate a fair parenting agreement where possible, finding a solution that is beneficial for their future.
There are two main types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is either joint or sole and involves the decision-making authority for the child. Physical custody is the time physically spent with the child.
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.
If parents must go through the court to determine child custody, the judge will review several factors, which we call the best interest of the child factors, to determine a custody arrangement for the family. The child’s interests are the primary guideline for determining child custody arrangements. In court, evidence will be gathered about each parent’s fitness, ability to care for a child, and the needs of the child. In Louisiana, judges review the following factors to decide custody:
The judge will determine legal and physical custody based on these guidelines. When you work with a child custody attorney, they can advocate for your interests in court and may be able to help you prove why a certain custody arrangement is more beneficial for your child.
Parents can also try to reach an agreement through mediation rather than leaving the decision up to the court. Livingston Parish offers court monitored mediation, which is free to you, and often a great resource for resolution. In most cases, the court prefers it when parents work together on a custody arrangement. Parents know the unique needs of their child better than a family law judge, and reaching an agreement shows that parents can set aside any differences they have to work in their child’s interests.
In mediation, a third party can help parents negotiate the terms of a parenting plan. This process is typically less expensive and less stressful for parents and children. It also enables parents to have control over the outcome of a custody agreement. This is useful, considering how much of a family’s life can be altered by a custody arrangement.
The family court will review the custody agreement. The court will only refuse a parenting plan if it is not in a child’s interest.
If parents cannot reach an agreement regarding custody, then they must turn to the family court to make the decision for them.
An experienced family law attorney provides you with emotional and legal support during this difficult and frequently frustrating period. An attorney can mediate between you and your co-parent to find an ideal solution for a parenting plan. Family law attorneys have significant experience in mediation and negotiation and can help both parties find compromises that are in a child’s interest.
A custody agreement should protect your child’s welfare and needs. When you need legal support and guidance for your child custody agreement, contact the attorneys at Magnolia Law. We can provide you with the compassionate legal care you need in custody negotiation or litigation.