The Co Parenting Guidelines That Should Be in Every Custody Order
After ending a relationship, one of the best things you can do for yourself and, more importantly, for your children is learn how to effectively co parent. The emotional, psychological and financial benefits are immeasurable and likely obvious. In a perfect world, parents who are no longer together would have the instinctive ability and inclination to co parent their children cooperatively and respectfully. Unfortunately, co parenting in the real world is more difficult that most people expect. Co parenting can be confusing and frustrating, even for parents with the best of intentions, and especially so for parents whose break-up was messy or recent.
For this reason, courts in Louisiana often include the following standard co parenting guidelines in custody orders. These guidelines are intended to clarify what is expected of both parents in dealing with each other and the children. Most of these guidelines should seem intuitive – these are things that we’d hope parents would be doing anyway, right? But having these guidelines formalized in a court order ensures that both parents are on the same page, so to speak, when it comes to co parenting. It also allows both parents a means of addressing problem behavior by the other parent. Meaning, if one parent fails to abide by these guidelines, the other parent can file a Motion for Contempt with the Court. Think of these co parenting guidelines as a safety net – hopefully you will never need to go back to Court to address co parenting issues. But if you do, you will be able to directly point to the portion of your custody order that the other party has violated.
As an aside, when I say “custody order,” I’m referring to that formal document that outlines the legal and physical custody arrangement for your children, that is ultimately filed with the Court and signed by your Judge. If you do not have a formal custody order in place, merely an informal agreement between you and the other parent, you should seriously consider having a formal custody order drafted by an attorney. If both parties are in agreement with the terms, you will not have to go to court. If you already have a custody order, but it does not contain these standard co parenting guidelines, consider having your attorney draft a supplement to your existing order that includes these guidelines. Again, if the other parent is in agreement, that supplemental order can be filed without the need for a court appearance.
Keep in mind that these guidelines can be modified if necessary to address any specific circumstances or concerns. And without any further ado, here they are. Parents are ordered to do and abide by the following:
- To share information with each other about the child in a timely manner so as to coordinate and facilitate their parenting together. This information may include, but is not limited to medical, educational, social, psychological, and religious aspects of the child’s life
- All material, child sharing, court related and financial communications between the parents shall occur at a time when the child is not present or within hearing range. Communication regarding these issues shall not occur at times of exchange of the child or during telephone visit with the child.
- Neither parent shall say or do anything in the presence or hearing of the child that would in any way diminish the child’s love or affection for the other parent, and shall not allow others to do so.
- Should either parent require child care for twenty-four (24) hours or longer when the child is in his/her care, the other parent shall have the first option to provide such care.
- Each parent shall always keep the other informed of his/her actual address of residence, mailing if different, home, cell and work telephone numbers and any changes within twenty-four hours of such change occurring.
- Each parent shall inform the other as soon as possible of all school, sporting and other special activity notices and cooperate in the child’s consistent attendance at such events. Neither parent shall schedule activities during the other parent’s scheduled parenting time without notice to the other parent.
- Neither parent shall move the residence of the child out of state or within the state at a distance of more than 75 miles from the other parent without giving the other party written notice as required by La. R.S. 9:355.1 et seq.