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Louisiana Co-Parenting Guidelines : Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Understanding Custody and Visitation Rights

The state of Louisiana legally recognizes two types of custody rights between two parents: primary physical custody and joint physical custody. According to the Louisiana Civil Code Article 132, primary physical custody (also referred to as sole custody) is when one parent alone holds physical custody to a minor child and the other parent holds visitation rights and decision-making rights on major issues. If a court or a mediator determines that joint physical custody is more beneficial for the child, then each parent will be allowed to have regular physical access to the child, or have the child living in both the parents' homes on a rotating basis.


Child Support and Parental Responsibilities

Child support exists to ensure that the minor child or children benefit from proper monetary support from both parents. According to Louisiana Revised Statute Section 9, the court has the power to impute both parents with an equal responsibility for supporting the child, regardless of custody being held by one parent exclusively or shared between both parents. Child support is measured by a variety of factors, such as each parent's income, factors that impact the child's best interests and standard of living, and the financial needs of the child.


Co-Parenting Expenses

In the state of Louisiana, the court is allowed to require both parents to contribute to some expenses, such as medical bills and extracurricular activities, even if one of them holds primary physical custody. Parents may also share any other expenses that are needed for the “health, education, support, and well-being” of the child, depending on their income and the amount of custody each one holds, as determined by the court. These expenses can include clothes, school supplies, medical care, sports, and more.


Parental Rights

Parents in the state of Louisiana have certain fundamental rights related to their children. All of the parents’ rights must be taken into consideration by the courts during the custody and visitation rights decision-making process. According to Section 3 of the Louisiana Civil Code, Article 134, these rights include the right to receive information regarding their child or children and the right to visit, or have contact with them, according to the order issued by the court. Parents also have the right to have a say about their child’s religious upbringing and education, when applicable.


Decisions Related to Parenting Plan

The courts in Louisiana recognize the need for both parents to come to an agreement regarding parental decisions related to the wellbeing of the child. Parents are expected to establish a Parenting Plan, a document where both of them can agree upon what is considered to be important decisions are in the best interests of their children. This document also defines each parent’s role in for the child’s upbringing, and address how often each parent will be allowed to have physical access to the child and the parenting decisions that will involve both of them.


Visitation Rights and Mediation

When the court is considering visitation rights, the decision is usually based on what is believed to be the best interests of the child or children. If the court believes that it is not in the best interests of the child to be with only one parent, a joint physical custody order may be established instead. When this occurs, the court will likely also establish a visitation schedule that is specific to each parent. If both parents are struggling to come to an agreement regarding visitation or any other matter related to their child or children, the court may require them to participate in a special type of dispute resolution process known as mediation. During this process, a qualified mediator will help the parents come to an understanding. This may involve negotiating the terms of a visitation plan, the amount of child support that is appropriate, or any other matter related to parenting.


In conclusion, Co-parenting in Louisiana is a very complex process.  You must understand all the laws and rules of engagement to have positive co-parenting experience.


Fact Check and Resources

In crafting this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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