Families are made up of individuals. Just as no two individuals are alike, neither are any two families. And in the event that parents of a family decide they can no longer operate as a unit, it doesn’t mean that they give up their roles and responsibilities as parents.
Louisiana family law courts are not blind to this reality. The overriding goal of the courts is to ensure that the best interests of the child or children are met. Defining best interest is often a matter of some interpretation and debate. The work of achieving a fair and equitable parenting plan can take some skilled negotiation or legal representation if the dispute winds up going to the court.
While there is no cookie-cutter approach to determining the best parenting plan for a given situation, there are general parameters that many experts agree can be used as models. Customization will likely be needed and changes in situation could dictate a need for change.
According to one expert, it can be useful to frame the parenting plan around the nature of the split the parents are experiencing — whether it’s an openly angry split, one in which the parents hide their personal tensions from their children, or one in which a true sense of cooperation exists between the parents despite their personal differences.
Also worthy of consideration are the ages of the children involved. Youngsters below the age of 18 months need a different set of conditions to support their developmental needs than those between 18 months and three years old. And as children get into their elementary, middle or high school years, their needs may change yet again.
What this all reinforces is that parents need to assess what the best needs of the child or children are at this moment and craft a plan accordingly. At the same time, there needs to be acknowledgment that the plans are probably going to need to change over time. Working with an attorney as developments change is always advisable.