Child Custody Attorney in Bossier City
Louisiana Child Custody Law
Do you need a child custody attorney in Bossier City or Shreveport?
During a divorce or a separation, coming to an agreement with your former spouse about child custody can be a difficult and emotionally-draining task. You, your former spouse, and the courts must work together to find a solution; unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. Louisiana child custody law can be complex, and making a mistake could not only be painful for you, but for your child in years to come.
Navigating child custody laws in Louisiana requires a deft, experienced attorney like Christopher Stahl. Mr. Stahl has handled a variety of child custody cases in Northwest Louisiana, and has the knowledge and skills to help you through a difficult situation.
What Are Child Custody Laws in Louisiana?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a very simple question to answer. Child custody in Louisiana can mean a lot of different things. Here, we will break down some of the processes and terminology behind child custody laws in Louisiana.
It’s always a good idea to inform yourself on the child custody laws in your state. However, if you are going through a child custody battle, it is always beneficial to consult with an actual child custody attorney in Bossier City.
Who Grants Child Custody in Louisiana?
Louisiana family law courts have jurisdiction over child custody cases. These family law courts encourage parents to come up with a custody agreement on their own.
In the case of divorcing parents, at the time you go before the judge to finalize the divorce, you can submit your child custody proposal with your other agreements about separation of property. The judge is very likely to grant a proposal that both parents agree to if it is in the best interests of the child. If the judge grants the proposal, it essentially makes your private agreement into an official, enforceable one.
What Should I Include In My Louisiana Child Custody Agreement?
Louisiana child custody laws require the parents to agree on a variety of things in a child custody agreement.
The agreement must provide for:
- The residence of the child
- Where the child will spend birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions
- When the respective parents have access to the child or can communicate with the child (i.e. if one parent can call the child while they are with the other parent, or if one parent needs supervised visitation)
- Child support
It is always better to negotiate these things with your former spouse, with the help of your child custody attorney in Bossier City. The alternative is allowing a judge to decide all these things for you.
What Happens If Parents Don’t Agree on Child Custody in Louisiana?
If parents can’t agree on a child custody arrangement, the judge will set one for them.
The judge will look at the assets and situations of both parents, and make a decision based on what is in the best interest of the child.
But what exactly does that mean? Louisiana family law courts take a few different things into account when deciding what is in the best interests of a child. Here are some of the things the judge will consider when deciding on a child custody arrangement:
The Emotional Ties Between Each Party and the Child
What this means is that the judge will take into account if the child is more attached to one parent than the other. If one parent has been mostly absent from the child’s life, the judge will consider that. Potentially, the judge might allow the child to live more often with the parent that has been most present.
However, this is never a sure thing. Just because you have been more present in a child’s life does not mean you will gain majority physical custody of them. Every case, every judge, and every situation is different.
In the cases of older children, like teenagers, most of the time the judge will take into account who the child wants to live with.
The Capacity of Each Party to Give the Child Love, Affection, Guidance, and Continue the Education of the Child
This is a somewhat vague descriptor, and can mean anything from which parent can afford to continue sending the child to the school they attend to which parent is able to be home with the child more. Again, it all depends on the specific situation; nebulous guidelines like these are one reason it’s important to have an experienced child custody attorney in Bossier City on your side.
The Capacity of Each Party to Provide the Child with Food, Clothing, Medical Care, and Other Needs
Like the last rule, this guideline could mean anything from which parent has a higher income to which parent has traditionally done most of the clothes shopping or handled medical care.
The Length of Time the Child Has Lived in Any One Stable Environment
For instance, if your child lives with you for most of the twelve month period of separation before a final divorce, the judge will take that into account. They might award you more physical custody of the child in order to maintain that environment as much as possible.
However, again, this is not always true. Say, for example, your former spouse spent the year of separation buying a larger house and moving to another town and was thus unable to take your child for any length of time until now. The judge may rule that you have equal physical custody in that case.
The Permanence, As A Family Unit, Of the Existing or Proposed Custodial Home(s)
The judge wants to send the child into a stable home environment, and maintain the family unit as much as possible. They will look thoroughly at each parent’s living situation when deciding on a custody arrangement.
The Moral Fitness of Each Party As It Affects the Well-being of the Child
Of course the judge doesn’t want to send the child to live with a “bad” person. But what constitutes a “bad”, or immoral person?
This is another vague guideline; most of the time, a good child custody attorney in Bossier City could argue that whatever immorality one spouse accuses another of does not affect the well-being of the child.
The Mental and Physical Health of Each Party
One parent may be more physically or mentally capable of caring for the child than the other.
The Home, School, and Community History of the Child
The judge may be reluctant to remove a child from a community they have lived in and gone to school in for an extensive period of time.
The Reasonable Preference of the Child, If They Are Old Enough
We mentioned this above; the preference of a child 12 and over carries heavy weight. However, even the preference of a much younger child will factor into a judge’s decision.
The Willingness of Each Parent to Facilitate A Relationship Between the Child And Other Parent
If one parent seems likely to isolate the child from the other parent, that could work against them in the judge’s ruling.
The Distance Between the Residences of the Two Parties
Sharing 50/50 physical custody when the two parents live several states apart is not feasible. Judges will take into account what is reasonable to expect based on this.
The Responsibility for the Care of the Child Up To This Point
If one parent has done nearly all of the child-rearing up to this point, this could work in their favor.
Determining what is in the best interest of the child from a legal standpoint can be invasive and upsetting for the parents. Things like love and emotional attachment can’t really be measured. This is one of the many reasons it’s essential to have an experienced child custody attorney in Bossier City who has experience with these guidelines in action.
What Does Child Custody Mean?
Having child custody in Louisiana can mean a lot of different things!
First of all, you should understand that Louisiana child custody laws provide for legal custody and physical custody.
When you have physical custody, the child is actually living with you. You are responsible for their day-to-day needs: feeding them, clothing them, getting them to school, et cetera.
When you have legal custody, you make decisions for the child. This could include decisions about their education, medical decisions, and religious decisions among others.
What is Shared Custody?
Shared custody is when both parents have equal legal custody and physical custody. The child lives an equal amount of time with both parents, and both parents have equal legal responsibilities and rights.
In cases where this is possible, Louisiana family law courts vastly prefer this arrangement. However, it is not always possible, as it requires parents to live relatively close together, and engage in a high level of cooperation. The parents would have to agree on all legal custody-related decisions, such as medical treatment.
What is Joint Custody?
This is the infamous “every-other-weekend” arrangement. With this custody arrangement, parents would have equal legal custody over the child. However, one parent would have greater physical custody; the child would live with one parent more often than with the other.
The “every-other-weekend” schedule isn’t the only possibility, of course; in this case, parents would find a schedule that best suits the needs of the child.
What is Split Custody?
Split custody occurs when there are multiple children involved. One parent might have custody over one child, while the other has custody of another child. Situations like these may or may not involve child support.
What is Sole Custody?
Sole custody is incredibly rare, though Louisiana child custody laws still allow for it in the right situation. Sole custody means that one parent has complete custody of the child; this can apply to legal custody, physical custody, or both.
When one parent has sole legal custody of the child, most of the time the judge will allow visitation rights to the other parent. This non-custodial parent will also have access to the child’s dental and medical records. The non-custodial parent may also need to pay child support.
It is very rare for a judge to grant sole legal and physical custody to one parent, unless the other parent is completely unfit.
Instances where a judge might find one parent unfit are:
- History of violence or substance abuse
- Specific instances of child abuse or neglect of any kind
What Are Visitation Rights in Louisiana Child Custody Law?
Louisiana child custody laws allow for visitation rights for a non-custodial parent, as well as for other third parties like grandparents. Judges will grant these rights if it seems appropriate and is in the best interest of the child.
Can Custody Arrangements Be Changed?
The short answer is yes, parents do have the right to seek modification of a custody agreement.
It’s easiest to do this when the parents present their own mutual agreement for a custody arrangement at the initial divorce. In cases like these, parents only need to present a change in circumstances for modification to occur.
However, if the court determined the agreement at the initial divorce, it’s much harder to achieve modification. The parent seeking modification must prove that the change is in the child’s best interest. Parents should keep this in mind when handling their initial custody agreements.
Why Do I Need A Child Custody Attorney in Bossier City?
There are a variety of reasons you might need a child custody attorney in Bossier City. Like anything legal, child custody laws can be complicated. Even if you and your former spouse or partner can agree on everything, a Louisiana family lawyer can help you file and submit paperwork correctly to ensure your custody agreement goes as smoothly as possible.
If you and your former spouse or partner disagree, it’s even more crucial that you have your own Louisiana family law attorney to protect your child’s best interests.
Contact The Law Offices of Christopher M. Stahl
As a parent, you may be worried that you will lose your child custody case, or that you will not be granted as much time as you used to have with them.
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