Joint custody, or joint legal custody, is a term used in Louisiana which means that the children have two parents (even though they no longer live together) who are to work together to rear a child or children, consulting with each other to make decisions in the best interest of the child or children. lt does not mean 50/50 time with the children.
The time spent with a child or children is called physical custody. That can be any variation of plans such as one-week/one-week, or every other weekend for one parent and the rest of the time with the other parent, etc.
Then, there's the term "domiciliary custody." This was supposed to mean the parent with whom the children live most of the time. However, it's become a hammer over the other parent's head. I'll see parents who'll say, "l'm domiciliary parent. I get my way." This was not the intent of that term. Louisiana law favors joint custody and shared decision-making, but the domiciliary parent designation allows one parent to have the final say-so if the parents have a dispute.
For example, if one parent wants the children to go to public school and the other wants the children to go to private school, the parent with domiciliary status has the final vote. The issues that were intended to be covered by using the terms "domiciliary custody" were residence, education, and health care needs of the children. Yet, too many people have used it to lord it over the other parent, causing anger and resentment.
The goal should be for the parents to get along and co-parent their children, working together to
enhance their children's lives.
Hogan Attorneys stopped taking families to Court to fight for custody in 2005 because dozens of the children I had taken to Court in the previous 30 years of my practice had been coming back to me to handle their own divorces.
When I asked each one, "What do you think about the time I had you testify in front of the Judge?" every one of them said they hated it. They hated their mother for making them testify against their father, or they hated their father for trashing their mother, or they hated both of them for fighting and putting them through this.
That's when I realized I had not helped families by going to Court, so I decided to change my strategy. I prayed that I could persuade people not to fight and not to destroy their families by fighting in Court. I decided to focus on the strategy and route of divorce mediation.
It worked! ln the last 15 years, I've been able to help families in my divorce cases get through the trauma of divorce by working peacefully to resolve custody and other issues. I'm now hearing from those children and families that this was the best way to handle the situation.
When you’re ready to file for divorce, yes, you can go to Court to fight for child custody, but I won't be your divorce lawyer.
Lila Tritico Hogan
Board Certified Family Law Specialist
For an initial consultation about this, contact Hogan Attorneys, 985 - 542 - 7730.
[Please Note: The answers provided in this blog are intended as general information provided by the Hogan Attorneys law firm. Hogan Attorneys specialize as family law attorneys in addition to criminal law and employment law. Each person's legal issues and divorce process are unique. Do not rely upon these answers. lf you have a particular issue that needs to be addressed, an initial consultation with a divorce lawyer or divorce attorney who understands divorce law will help you know your rights and options.]