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From March 2010, Sophisticated Woman Magazine - RECENTLY, MY LAW OFFICE discovered that we had become home to a litter of puppies. After further investigation, we realized that we were actually housing two separate litters- two different mothers and one father. At one point, one of the mothers became alienated and moved on, with the other mother taking over the care and feeding of both litters. 

The irony that all this happened underneath a law office known for handling domestic matters was not lost on me, and it certainly gave me a moment's pause to muse on the complexities of custody litigation. Many readers may be aware that the standard for determining custody is "the best interest of the child." Louisiana Civil Code Article 134 lists twelve different factors to consider when determining this best interest. One that I have heard domestic judges name time and again as one of the most important factors is the tenth one: "the willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party." Thinking about this in the context of the puppies made a wry smile flit across my face, as I couldn't help but ponder what our domestic judges would do with that situation: the father dog obviously did not try to facilitate the relationship between the puppies and the mother dog that left!

Before I dive any further into this analogy that seems to be getting more ridiculous by the minute, perhaps I should simply stop and note the important lessons contained here for humans. When you share custody of a child with someone you no longer share a home with, it is good to keep some basic principles in mind. Never do or say anything that will diminish the child's affection or esteem for the other parent. Never deny the other parent his or her custodial time, or make negative remarks about him or her in the presence of the child. And never forget these principles if a new romantic interest comes on the scene, or let that person try to replace the child's other parent.

That last thought brings me back to the puppies. Our readers may rest assured that our office has been working with the humane society to make sure that care is properly provided for both parents and pups.

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Magee, Zeringue & Richardson, Attorneys at Law
207 E Gibson St
Covington, LA 70433

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