Louisiana Child Custody Laws Explained
When you and your partner decide to divorce, dividing the responsibility for child care can be daunting.
Louisiana family courts are vested with jurisdiction over issues in child custody, support, and visitation rights. When parents decide to divorce or separate, a judge will ultimately award custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. Divorcing parents are free to come up with an agreement for the Court to render as a Judgment. However, the courts will intervene when the parents cannot agree upon an arrangement that is good for the child. In the event that the parents cannot come to a mutual decision, a judge will try to award joint custody to both parents unless there is concrete evidence that doing so is not what’s best for the child.
Then again, even if parents were granted joint custody, it doesn’t automatically mean that they will receive equal time with the child, nor do they share the same ability to make crucial decisions for the child. For example, a judge may decide that a child should primarily reside in the home of one parent because of school. In a case like this, the parent with whom the child primarily resides will likely be designated the domiciliary parent. The domiciliary parent is generally the parent that has the final say, when disagreements arise between the parties, absent the right of the non-domiciliary parent to ask the Court to intervene.
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As previously stated, Louisiana prefers joint custody with parents sharing responsibility for raising the child. This is because it ensures that the child will have a continuing, meaningful relationship with both parents. One parent usually acts as the primary custodian, while the other is entitled to visitation, which varies widely depending on the parties schedules, work, and various other factors.
There are also cases wherein a third party, someone who is not the child’s biological parent, tries to gain custody of a child. In some cases, the court grants a non-parent third party custody. This is usually reserved or extraordinary situations, where an award of custody to either parent would result in substantial harm to the minor child.
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Judges have a high degree of discretion when it comes to establishing a visitation schedule between the child and parents. Sole custody is rare in Louisiana, and the non-custodial parent receives visitation rights unless there’s reason to believe that the child’s welfare is at risk with the visiting parent. As for non-parental relatives such as grandparents, visitation can also be granted by the court provided that these people have a quality and constructive relationship with the child. There are also situations, such as the death of a parent, which would provide an intrinsic avenue for grandparent visitation.
Consult with a family law attorney
If you are currently trying to devise a custody arrangement with your ex and trying to gain custody of your child, it’s best to seek help from a family law attorney.
If you’re looking for a family law attorney in Shreveport that can help you with your case, we are the ones to call. Request for a consultation today.
If you happen to be a parent, and need legal representation regarding child custody in Louisiana, contact The Law Office of Christopher M. Stahl today.
Children also have their rights, especially during divorce processes. After all, they are entitled to the protection that they need.