Frequently clients will ask me during initial consultations what is required of them in a joint custody arrangement. In other words, what aspects of the child’s life and to what detail are they responsible to communicate to the other parent and vice versa. In many cases, the judge or hearing officer will order co-parenting guidelines that specify certain information and details that should be exchanged. These guidelines will be incorporated into the court order or consent judgment and become the “law” that both parties must abide by and can also be held in contempt for failing to follow. However, in an ideal world, parents would work together and support each other, going above and beyond what is required in the co-parenting guidelines. A child needs both parents in his or her life, so you should look at these guidelines as just that – guidelines – not hard and fast rules. You should strive to include the other parent in as much of the child’s life as possible because alienating the other parent from your child will only harm your child in the long run.
You may be aware that the standard custody arrangement in Louisiana is joint custody and the co-parenting guidelines are ordered and enforced frequently. While each parish in Louisiana will vary the wording slightly, the concept of the co-parenting guidelines is the same.
Below are standard co-parenting guidelines in a joint custody arrangement in Jefferson Parish:
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the parties shall follow the co-parenting guidelines which are in the best interest of the minor child:
- To share information with each other about the child in a timely manner so as to coordinate and facilitate their parenting together. This information may include, but is not limited to medical, educational, social, psychological, and religious aspects of the child’s life
- All material, child sharing, court related and financial communications between the parents shall occur at a time when the child is not present or within hearing range. Communication regarding these issues shall not occur at times of exchange of the child or during telephone visit with the child.
- Neither parent shall say or do anything in the presence or hearing of the child that would in any way diminish the child’s love or affection for the other parent, and shall not allow others to do so.
- Should either parent require child care for twenty-four (24) hours or longer when the child is in his/her care, the other parent shall have the first option to provide such care.
- Each parent shall always keep the other informed of his/her actual address of residence, mailing if different, home, cell and work telephone numbers and any changes within twenty-four hours of such change occurring.
- Each parent shall inform the other as soon as possible of all school, sporting and other special activity notices and cooperate in the child’s consistent attendance at such events. Neither parent shall schedule activities during the other parent’s scheduled parenting time without notice to the other parent.
- Neither parent shall move the residence of the child out of state or within the state at a distance of more than 75 miles from the other parent without giving the other party written notice as required by La. R.S. 9:355.1 et seq.