Louisiana Custody and Visitation Schedule Guidelines

A parenting schedule is important for parents who are separating or divorcing. It creates consistency for the child and makes it clear when each parent is supposed to have their turn.

When scheduling your parenting time, be detailed, especially if you and your co-parent tend to have conflict. For example, anticipate breaks in your child's routine, like holidays. While the court may ask only for a brief written description, you can add a visual calendar for more clarity.

You can write a schedule as part of a parenting plan that you and your co-parent draft separately or together. If a judge approves your schedule, it will become part of your court order in your divorce or custody case. If you don't propose a schedule, the judge will have to choose one without your input.

Once the court orders a schedule, both of you must stick to it, except for minor adjustments.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

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How you get a custody and visitation schedule

Opening a divorce or custody case, whether or not you have an agreement ready, means you're asking for a court order about how you'll co-parent.

Agree on as much as you can. You can agree to joint custody or to one of you having sole custody. If the judge decides your agreement serves your child's best interest, they have to approve it.

If, despite your best efforts, you can't agree on some matters, you'll have to go to trial to decide them.

At trial, the judge will order joint custody if they find no reason not to (e.g., neither of you has behavioral problems). Even when the court orders sole legal custody, it tends to allow both parents time with the child, which might take the form of sole physical custody for one parent and visitation for the other or simply joint physical custody.

An experienced local lawyer can help you predict what might happen if you go to trial, since each judge has their own way of thinking about these matters and your case is unique.

What happens if you don't have a schedule

Not all co-parents receive a parenting schedule as part of their court order. Sometimes a domiciliary parent (i.e., the parent who has the child most of the time) is ordered to allow the other parent reasonable visitation or liberal visitation. This may work well if the parents get along or if the nondomiciliary parent sees the child infrequently anyway.

However, a downside of going without a schedule is that it's up to both of you to propose and enable your child's visits with the nondomiciliary parent — so when you disagree on how those visits should happen, they may not happen at all. If you both expect significant parenting time or if certain days are important to either of you, draw up a schedule.

Popular schedules in Louisiana

You can quickly visualize and compare schedules with a Custody X Change calendar. Choose from templates for common schedules or build your own schedule.

Equal time

In Louisiana, the judge gives parents equal time, i.e., shared custody, if it's in the best interests of the child and possible for the parents. (The exception is when parents agree not to have shared custody.)

An equal time schedule for an older child could involve alternating weeks.

For a small child, frequent exchanges are appropriate. You might have a 2-2-3 schedule.

Or a 3-4-4-3 schedule.

Unequal time

For an unequal time schedule, it's common for the parent with less time to have the child every other weekend plus one day during the alternating week. Parents also often share the summer and holidays. This example shows a long weekend, which may be ordered as long as it doesn't interfere with the child's school attendance.

For a baby, it may be appropriate for one parent to have three daytime visits every week.

Putting in school breaks and holidays

Plan for the school year in a way that supports your child's school attendance, and don't forget holidays and summer breaks.

For short school breaks — fall, Thanksgiving, winter and spring — the child may spend the entire break with one parent. You may alternate which parent gets the child during the break each year.

It's common for a mother to get Mother's Day and a father to get Father's Day.

Plan for religious holidays like Easter if they're important to you, and don't forget Mardi Gras if you celebrate it. In the Custody X Change app, when you create a schedule, you can enter Mardi Gras as a one-time change to your schedule.

For summer break, you can make a recurring summer schedule that's different from the one you use the rest of the year. If summer exchanges will occur at irregular times and places, take care to specify them.

Adding other details

Think about what kind of details and support you may need to make the schedule work. Your parenting plan is the best place to put details like these.

For example, specify where you'll pick up and drop off your child.

Make a plan for how the child will travel between homes and, if the distance is significant, whether you'll share the related costs.

If you expect the court to order supervised visits, you can request supervision by a family member, social worker or police officer. Or you can just say who will choose the supervisor.

What to do if the schedule isn't working

As the years go by, you can go back to court to modify your schedule. Once again, try to agree so that you avoid a trial.

Meanwhile, if one parent isn't following the schedule, a judge may order them to post bond, issue a civil warrant to involve police, or find them in contempt.

The easiest way to make a schedule

If you're like most parents, creating a custody and visitation schedule will feel daunting. How do you make something that meets legal requirements and doesn't leave any loose ends?

The Custody X Change app makes it easy. Either customize a schedule template, or click and drag in your custody calendar to make a schedule from scratch.

Then watch a full description appear in your parenting plan.

The combination of a visual and written schedule means your family will have no problem knowing who has the child when. Take advantage of Custody X Change to make your schedule as clear and thorough as can be.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

Make My Louisiana Schedule Now

Explore examples of common schedules

Explore common schedules

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