What is joint custody?

What is joint custody?

A child grips their father's finger with their handCustody is an aspect of family law that is often confusing and emotional. To make the process as seamless and painless as possible, you need to understand the ins and outs of joint custody, as well as the implications this type of custody brings for you and your child.

Whether you take the issue to court or come to an agreement with the other parent, the final decision will be made in the best interest of the child. If you have questions about the different types of custody in Louisiana, please contact one of our Lake Charles family law attorneys at The Johnson Firm.

Defining Joint Custody

When we say “joint custody,” we really mean “joint legal custody.” Legal custody pertains to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding the wellbeing of their child, so joint legal custody allows both parents to share decision-making responsibilities.

Although both parents are allowed to make decisions regarding the child’s education, health, and wellbeing, with joint custody the court almost always chooses a “domiciliary” parent. The “domiciliary” is the parent with ultimate decision making authority and most of the time it is determined by who the child lives with most of the time. If the parents cannot agree on a matter regarding the child, the domiciliary parent retains the right to make the final decision.

Joint custody may be an appropriate option if both parents work and reside in the same area and are on good terms.  Joint custody is preferred by Louisiana Courts.

Splitting Time

A joint custody agreement also factors in how much time each parent gets to spend with the child, ideally requiring approximately equal time all factors being equal. However, “equal time” doesn’t necessarily mean a clean 50/50 divide.

If both parties agree, one parent could have the child 45% of the time, and the other parent 55%. Or the time could even be split 70/30. As long as both parents agree, they can tailor the schedule to meet their needs. Of course, the court can also tailor the schedule to best meet the child’s needs in the event the parents do not agree on a schedule.

The Difference Between Joint Custody and Shared Custody

It’s easy to get shared and joint custody confused, but there is a major difference between the two. Shared custody parents generally split physical custody equally (the amount of time they are allowed to spend with the child), further, the final decision making authority may be divided between the parents on different issues, like medical or education.

Shared custody may be most appropriate under these circumstances. Keep in mind that each individual case is different:

  • When the parties residences are relatively close
  • When the parties communicate and work effectively together
  • When both parties are able to attend to the children’s needs equally

Our Lake Charles Child Custody Attorneys are Here to Help You

At The Johnson Firm, we understand that child custody is a delicate and often emotional legal matter. We have the experience to provide sound advice, the integrity to make decisions that are in your child’s best interest, and the resilience to see the case through to the end. When you need legal assistance, call The Johnson Firm at (337) 433-1414.

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