For many couples facing divorce, custody of their children is the most pressing concern. They want to ensure that they have a positive, ongoing relationship with their kids. Custody battles can often become protracted and can lead to significant stress for both of the parents and the children involved.
By familiarizing yourself with common procedures in Louisiana divorce and custody cases, you can reduce the amount of strain your divorce places on your kids. Keeping the focus on protecting the kids from the emotional fallout of the divorce is a good way to focus on doing what's best as you move through the divorce process.
Barring serious issues, anticipate sharing custody
Louisiana courts these days tend to prefer shared custody arrangements. That means splitting custody with your ex. In some cases, you might have the children with you during the week and your ex might take them on the weekends. Other times, you may alternate weeks, with the children staying at your home one week and at your ex's the next.
The courts want to do what is in the best interest of the children involved, and that usually means seeking out a shared custody arrangement. Unless there is a history of abuse, neglect, addiction or other serious issues, the courts are unlikely to award sole custody to one parent.
You should do your best to accept the fact that you will share parental responsibilities with your former spouse until your children turn 18. Even then, you will still likely have to see each other at important events, such as graduations and weddings.
It takes focus and patience to facilitate co-parenting relationships
The best thing you can do for your kids during a divorce is commit to protecting them from how you feel about your ex. Your kids don't need to hear the dirty details of why you are getting divorced. They need you to put them first. That means keeping your emotional responses in check until you have a healthy outlet, such as a close friend or therapist.
Your children don't need to be pulled into the middle of the divorce. Instead, you should encourage them to connect with your ex. You and your ex should also do your best to remain polite and considerate toward one another, at least in front of the kids.
If you can sit down together to discuss parenting, that is ideal. If you can't, consider mediation or communicating through an attorney to establish ground rules, such as curfews. If you are both on the same page, you will have a more successful co-parenting experience.
However, these things don't just happen. You will have to plan, negotiate and discuss how you want to tackle future issues that will arise as you try to parent the same children in separate households.