"Everything is going to be alright. Maybe not today, but eventually."
We all know the playground song about love, marriage and a baby carriage... These events, sometimes occurring in a different order, are the components of an age-old fairytale about what makes a happy life. While fairytales are sources of inspiration, they are also hard to attain.
In reality- love flickers in and out, babies arrive, marriages end and people move on.
But, what does moving on look like?
Who gets the baby carriage and the child within it?
Having answers to these questions can remove some confusion and help parents write the next chapters in their tale.
First, here are some definitions of commonly used terms.
· Physical custody| In Louisiana, a parent has physical custody when spending time with the child. These times are commonly outlined in the custody plan.
· Domiciliary parent| If the child has one primary home, they are the domiciliary parent. If the child stays with both parents, they both share domiciliary custody.
· Child's best interests| The best interests of the child are the focus of every custody case. The determining factors are listed here.
How is a custody plan created?
· Out of court agreement| Sometimes, two parents can negotiate a schedule that suits all parties. If suitable, the courts make the plan official.
· Mediation| In cases where the parents cannot reach an agreement on some, or all terms, working with a third-party mediator may be required. This person helps parents see past their differences.
· Custody hearing| If the methods above don't work, the parents must accept the schedule the judge creates.
Modification of a parenting plan follows a similar outline as the creation of one. If the parents can agree to the modification out of court, they are welcome to do so. If there is disagreement, a petition or modification goes to the court.
Despite the plot twist, this is still your fairytale to write. With time, energy and attention to the best interests of the child, everything is going to be alright.