Most Louisiana parents involved in a custody situation or dispute are probably familiar with joint custody. In a joint custody schedule, both parents are given equal times of physical custody. One parent is deemed the domiciliary parent and is given the power to make most decisions about the children, if the decisions are discussed with the non-domiciliary parent.
However, it is common for certain circumstances to make a joint custody schedule impractical or even impossible. In these cases, there are other types of custody available that may be the best solution to your specific situation.
Shared and sole custody
Shared custody is like joint custody, with the exception that there is no domiciliary parent. Rather, both parents are given equal rights to make decisions regarding the children, either through an agreement or a court order.
Sole custody is available as a custody option in Louisiana; however, it is typically reserved for situations involving extreme circumstances. Sole custody gives one parent most or all the physical custody time and the sole right to make decisions about the children.
If one parent is unavailable and expected to remain that way on a long-term basis, sole custody may be awarded. A parent who is incarcerated or facing a long period of incarceration, or a parent with a job that involves a lot of travel may have to face the reality that the other parent may receive sole custody.
Parents with varying or different work schedules, or additional responsibilities that make a traditional joint or shared custody schedule difficult may benefit from a split custody schedule. The specific needs of the children are also a consideration for parents contemplating a split custody schedule.
A split custody schedule may involve one parent having more custody of one child, while the other parent has more custody of the other child. Decision-making rights can be allocated differently under a split custody schedule, as well, particularly if one parent has the benefit of additional resources or ability to make decisions in a child’s best interests.
Choosing a custody schedule is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Although custody schedules can be changed, once a schedule is in place, the process may be more difficult. Having guidance from the beginning is important.