Legal Custody – Joint v. Sole Custody
The court will first decide legal custody, which controls decision-making authority between the parties as it relates to the child. In Louisiana, there is a strong presumption in favor of joint legal custody, which requires the parents to exchange information concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child, and to confer with one another in exercising decision-making authority.
There is typically a “domiciliary parent” designated, who can make major decisions regarding the child when the parties cannot agree, after conferring with the “non-domiciliary” parent. Their decision will be presumed to be in the best interest of the child, subject to the “non-domiciliary” parent’s right to file a motion for the court to review that decision.
Assuming joint legal custody is awarded, a joint custody implementation plan will clarify the rights and responsibilities of each parent as it relates to the minor child. It will cover issues such as:
- Physical custodial periods
- Out of state or out of town travel
- Rights to medical and school records
- Communication with the other parent and the child
- Extracurriculars and school events
As opposed to joint legal custody, if sole custody is awarded to a parent, they have no obligation to confer with the other parent before making decisions about the child’s health, education, or welfare. Nonetheless, the other parent may have visitation periods with the minor child as set forth in your custody judgment.
An experienced family law practitioner will be able to discern the specific factors relevant to your case and discuss how they may apply. At Southern Oaks Law Firm, we take the time to fully understand the facts of your case and work with you to obtain the best possible result under the law and in accordance with the best interest of your child or children.