What is a domiciliary parent and how does the court identify this person?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2021 | divorce

If you divorce and you have children, the court will identify a domiciliary parent. Louisiana uses this term to describe the parent with whom the child lives most of the time. 

Review the factors family court judges in the state use to decide who should be the domiciliary parent when you share custody of your children with your former spouse. 

Defining the domiciliary parent

Although your parenting plan may name one person as the domiciliary parent, Louisiana courts prefer shared custody as long as this arrangement serves your child’s best interests. In most cases, the judge grants the non-domiciliary parent frequent, regular visitation with the children on a generous schedule. 

Sometimes, one parent may provide good cause for sole custody. For example, the other parent may be unable to establish a safe living environment.  

Establishing best-interest factors

When parents cannot agree on who should serve as the domiciliary parent, the court will decide based on the best interest of the child. Factors in this determination include: 

  • Who primarily provided child care prior to separation 
  • The willingness of each parent to foster a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent 
  • Each person’s physical and mental health 
  • Each person’s ability to create a safe and stable home environment 

Even when the domiciliary parent has a majority of parenting time, he or she must discuss decisions with the non-domiciliary parent. For minor decisions, the responsibility falls to the domiciliary parent if parents do not agree. The non-domiciliary parent can ask the court to review major contentious decisions, such as conflicts about religion, health care or education. 

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