In Louisiana, child support is guided by the statutes found in the Louisiana Child Support Guidelines. They take the gross amount of money that the family earns as a whole and the number of children and enter those figures into a table. The amount of child support is calculated when the numbers match up in the table. There are other factors that are taken into account, such as private school, sports activities, health insurance, and so on. Generally, child support is relatively easy to determine.
In regard to custody and visitation in Louisiana, the law states that the courts will allow as much time as possible to each parent. As much time with one parent is a 100%, but that takes everything away from the other parent. Therefore, the most amount of time that can be provided to each party is 50%. That is what the courts are ordering, but families can change that if they wish. The law now recognizes that mom and dad are equally important to the children.
Since parents normally know what is best for their family, they can decide how they want to handle custody and visitation. They can personally adjust their custody plan to fit both parents’ schedules. Many times, we have a good working relationship between mom and dad. They can craft a visitation schedule where the children get to see both parents equally, which is very fair. If mom wants to go out to dinner one night and can give the children to dad, it works out wonderfully. The children are able to see that mom and dad are working together. As a result, the children will grow up in a healthy environment.
A lot of times, the question is asked, “Do the children have a right to say where they want to be?” That a complex question. It depends upon the facts of the case. One case may rely upon what the children want while another case may not. Some courts have an age that they deem is appropriate, but they usually don’t want to pull the children into their parents’ litigation. If the parents are fighting, that is a terrible decision for a child to make. If the child picks mom, how will the dad feel? If the child picks dad, how will the mom feel? They risk causing guilt and damage to the child. Most of the judges that I work with are able to allow a child to decide, but they almost never ask. Instead, they decide based upon the facts.
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