Joint vs Shared. Sole vs Full. While often used interchangeably, each has a very specific meaning under Louisiana Law!

Custody terms are often misunderstood.

The care and decision-making concerns of children are at stake in a divorce or child custody case. It's important that everyone is on the same page in knowing what these terms mean.

What are the Different Types of Child Custody?

The two types of child custody in Louisiana are physical custody and legal custody.

Legal custody, whether it is held by one parent or shared by both parents, gives a parent the right to make decisions about the child's upbringing, such as schooling, health care, and other significant decisions.

Physical custody, whether it is held by one parent or shared by both parents, refers to the physical legal care of the child and where your child or children live.

What is Sole Custody?

Sole Custody means one parent has the sole legal care and decision-making ability for a child. This may be referred to by some people as full custody.

Sole custody is rare and is usually limited to situations where one parent is unfit or incapable of having any form of responsibility for a child -- for example, due to drug addiction or evidence of child abuse.

Usually, with sole custody, the parent is granted sole physical custody and sole legal custody.

With sole custody, the custodial parent has sole rights to make major decisions about the child's life.

With sole custody, the other parent may have periods of visitation. Visitation could be ordered to be supervised.

The non-custodial parent is still obligated to pay child support.

What is Joint Custody?

Joint Custody means both parents share the care and decision-making ability for a child. Both parents have periods of physical custody, but one may have more physical custody time than the other.

Joint custody is preferred in Louisiana. Louisiana courts believe in the large majority of cases, it is in the best interest of the child to have parenting time with both parents.

Joint legal custody provides both parents with control over important decisions regarding their child's upbringing.

Joint physical custody means that the child lives with both parents. Joint custody schedules can vary widely.

Even if one parent has more actual physical custody of a child than the other, the custody is likely joint, with each parent able to exercise parental rights during their periods of custody (unlike visitation).

This is the most common custody arrangement in Louisiana.

What is Shared Custody?

Shared Custody means both parents share physical custody equally.

Shared Custody aims to give both parents the same amount of physical time with the child and is also commonly referred to as 50/50 custody.

Shared Custody is a very specific type of Joint Custody.

What is a Domiciliary Parent?

In the case of joint or shared custody, a domiciliary parent will be appointed. This is the party with whom the child will have their primary residence, even if the arrangement is a 50/50 split.

If you are going through a divorce or have questions about your custody agreement, give our child custody lawyers a call at 985-240-9773.

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Nationally recognized attorney dedicated to fighting life's legal battles with compassion and care