You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents. Use the free download to see how it can help you.
You can also use Custody X Change to:
- Explore options for your visitation schedule
- Negotiate a schedule and agreement with the other parent
- Show your attorney schedules that you like
- Prepare sample schedules and plans for mediation
- Make a schedule and plan to present in court
When creating a child visitation schedule in the State of Louisiana, it is important to be aware of the laws of the State so that you may design a schedule that meets the criteria the court requires and complies with the law.
The laws and statutes pertaining to child custody and visitation can be found in the Louisiana Civil Code and the Louisiana Revised Statutes.
The State of Louisiana's main concern when ruling on family law cases involving children is maintaining and supporting the bests interests of the child(ren).
After reviewing the Code and Statutes, you will most likely find that it is in the best interest of your child if you work with the other parent to create the child visitation schedule. This will prevent the court from making the decisions for you and your child.
The type of custody Louisiana parents shall have should be clearly defined prior to making the child visitation schedule, and there are a few options to choose from:
- Joint custody means both parents have equal rights and authority over the child, in most cases, and shall share the time with the child in a manner that allows the child to spend time with both parents on a frequent, ongoing basis.
- Shared custody means the parents having joint custody shall divide the child's time equally.
- Sole custody means one parent has the child the majority of the time, with the other parent exercising reasonable visitation rights. In cases of abuse or domestic violence, the offending parent will typically be awarded supervised visitation, if any at all.
Whether or not you can reach an agreement with the other parent on your custody and visitation schedule may have a significant impact on your schedule.
If you are able to reach an agreement with the other parent regarding custody and visitation, the court will accept your agreement and approve it, as long as the agreement and child visitation schedule are created in accordance to the best interests of the child (Louisiana Civil Code Art. 132).
If you are unable to reach an agreement on the custody and visitation schedule, the court will require you to attend mediation to attempt to resolve your issues.
If you still fail to agree, the court will award joint custody unless there is sufficient cause to warrant a different ruling. The judge will provide each of you with a child visitation schedule that the court deems appropriate.
If you want to retain control over your child's schedule and your custody arrangements, you should make every effort to set your differences aside and work together for the sake of your child. That is the best way to provide your child with an arrangement that will best suit his or her needs.
To prevent the court from interfering with your arrangement, you should also make sure the child visitation schedule is organized and complete.
The domiciliary parent is the parent with whom the child shall primarily reside, and is primarily responsible for making important decisions regarding the child, unless other provisions are included in the order.
The judge may designate one parent as the domiciliary parent (RS 9:335B), but if neither of you is designated as the domiciliary parent, you shall both share all of the rights and responsibilities of raising the child.
As you make your schedule, whether with the other parent or on your own, you must account for where your child will be at all times. A good way to do this is to include:
- A residential schedule that shows where the child will live during the week and on the weekends. To make this schedule, block out the time for a few weeks when the child will be with each parent. Then you can repeat this block of time throughout the year.
- A holiday schedule that shows where the child is for holidays. You should make a list of all of the holidays that you want to include in your schedule. Then decide how you will share the holiday time. You can alternate holidays or split the time on the actual day. You can also decide how you will rotate holidays through the years.
- A special event schedule that shows where the child is for school breaks, vacation time, and other special occasions. Do you want a different residential schedule for summer break? What parent takes the child when there is no school? You can decide these things and put them in your schedule.
- Unexpected events where the parents must make changes to the schedule. You should come up with some rules about how you will handle unexpected events that cause changes to the schedule. For example, if your child gets sick at school, you need to plan who will take him/her. Or, if a soccer game gets changed and you need to reschedule visitation, you should have a backup plan.
If you have all of these parts to your schedule, you will have a thorough schedule that benefits your child and your custody situation.
As you create your schedule, you should always think about what would be best for your child as the court bases all decisions on the child's best interest.
Article 134 in the Civil Code gives some factors that the court considers when determining what is best for the child:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each parent and the child and the capacity of each parent to give the child love, affection, spiritual guidance, and education. As you plan where your child will live, you need to think about the abilities of each parent and the current relationship your child has with each parent.
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other physical needs. Your child should have a safe home with all of the necessities when with each parent. If a parent is not capable of providing material needs, you may need to set up visitation in a different area or make adjustments to your schedule.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment and the permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes. Generally, children do best with consistency. You want to create a consistent schedule so your child feels comfortable with the routine. This means that it probably isn't best for a child to live in a home that is constantly changing or not permanent.
- The moral fitness of the parents (as far as it affects the child). You want your child to grow up in a moral environment. If there are questions about the moral suitability of the other parent, you can bring this up in court. It should also affect parenting time.
- The mental and physical health of everyone involved. You should take special health needs of the child and parents into consideration as you make your schedule.
- The home, school, and community history of the child. You must think about the extra activities that your child is involved with, especially as your child grows older. You should also think about how your custody schedule affects your child's performance in school.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age to express a preference. Depending on the maturity level of your child, you may want to find out if your child has a preference regarding the custody schedule.
- The distance between the residences of the parents. There are some practical considerations for implementing a custody schedule. If you think about those, you will have an easier time making your schedule work.
- The willingness and ability of each parent to encourage the child's relationship with the other parent. Both parents need to recognize that it is best for the child to have both parents active in his/her life.
- The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each parent. If one parent performed all care taking responsibilities, then the custody schedule will slowly have to give those opportunities to the other parent.
These are just some of the factors to consider as you make a schedule for your child. If you try to focus on what your child needs and make a schedule to benefit your child, you will have a good schedule that the court will accept. You will also have a schedule that aids your custody situation.
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