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Custody agreements breaking mold

Courts across the country have departed from their outdated bias concerning child custody. Now, custody orders and agreements are now tailored to meet the needs of families. This can provide more flexibility for families in Louisiana going through a divorce.

Until a few years ago, courts generally granted custody to mothers because of the belief that mothers were better parents and giving them primary custody was in the best interests of the child. Courts, however, have begun issuing custody orders that are fairer for fathers and provide more time with the children.

A 2017 Science Daily study indicated that preschoolers suffered fewer psychological and behavioral problems if mother and fathers had joint custody. This was more favorable than living mostly with one parent, even if the children had to go back and forth between their parents' homes.

Parents are also entering more modern custody plans. Terms are considered acceptable if the children are happy.

Many plans are intended to provide as little disruption as possible to the children's lives. Parents sometime live in the same home, but in separate bedrooms. They share family meals or share homes on alternating weekends. However, this may not work if the parents are not trusting or fight over living arrangements.

Other arrangements do not involve divorced parents living together. They may live near each other and split up custody time by week or different days.

Another new arrangement involves the children staying in the family's marital home. The parents take turns living in the home and spending time with their children. However, this arrangement involves additional expense because each parent must also have their own separate residence.

Altering custody times has been the least complicated change. In the past, custody arrangement often involved one weekday and alternating weekends. Now, arrangements are based upon the children's activities and days that work best for the family.

An experienced attorney can help draft reasonable arrangements that meet the children's best interests. They will help assure that a parent's rights are also protected in court, mediation or settlement negotiations.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Why modern custody agreements look so different: 'Anything goes, as long as the children are happy," Danielle Braff, March 8, 2018

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