In Louisiana divorces involving children, the courts sometimes must decide on custody arrangements based upon the best interest of the children. Some of the factors that impact “best interest” include the mental and physical health of each parent, the ability of each parent to provide financial stability, and the location of each parents’ residences to their children’s schools, among other considerations.
After looking into these factors, a judge may choose to award joint or shared custody. While the terms sound similar, they are actually different.
Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on behalf of a child, while physical custody refers to where the child will reside the majority of the time. In joint custody decisions, the court awards equal legal custody to both parents, meaning that they are both able to make decisions regarding their children. However, the physical custody awarded in a joint custody arrangement typically gives a larger share of time to one parent instead of a 50-50 setup.
Similar to joint custody, shared custody splits legal authority equally between both parents. The big difference between joint and shared custody is that there is an equal division of physical custody in shared arrangements. In these cases, the divorced parents must be able to co-parent well and live relatively close to one another to promote equal time spent at each residence.
Whether or not you get shared or joint custody of your children will depend upon if you and your ex can work out an agreement amicably or upon the decision of the courts and the best interest of your children.