Louisiana Divorce FAQs – Parenting

This is about custody and visitation after divorce in Louisiana, including the effect on custody and visitation of misconduct of the parents, mental health of the parents, and the rights of grandparents in Louisiana.

This information is from Adam Lambert, the DivorceInfo Network Lawyer for Louisiana. Click here to visit his web site.

How does custody get decided as between a parent and a third party?

As with all situations dealing with children, the court’s foremost concern is the best interests of the child. Joint parental custody is presumed to be in the best interests of the child and this presumption can only be rebutted by showing that either sole custody by one parent or custody by a third party (like a grandparent or sibling) is in the best interests of the child.

The granting of custody to a relative is extraordinary and rare. The granting of custody to a non-relative third party is almost unheard of.

For more information, read Louisiana Civil Code Articles 131 and 134 and Louisiana Revised Statute 9:344.

How does custody get decided as between parents?

Again, joint custody is presumed to be in the best interests of the child and this presumption can only be rebutted by a showing that sole custody by one parent is in the child’s best interests.

Factors to be considered by the court in making a decision on custody include:

– The relationship between each parent and the child.

– The age and gender of the child.

– Each parent’s ability to give guidance to the child.

– Each parent’s ability to encourage a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.

– Each parent’s moral fitness and the mental and physical health of the parties.

– The child’s wishes may be considered if the child is of sufficient age, intelligence and maturity to make such a statement of preference.

For more information, read Louisiana Civil Code Articles 131 and 134.

What’s the terminology for custody?

“Custody” is the term used in Louisiana for legal custody of a child. Note that is not exactly the same as “physical custody”. Even when parents have “joint custody” of their child, one parent usually has “primary physical custody” (“domicilliary parent”), while the other will get “visitation” or “physical custody time”, as set out in the judgment.

Is there a presumption in favor of not changing custody arrangements?

Custody arrangements can be changed, but there must be a showing of a “material change in circumstances” in order for the court to even consider it.

What effect does the misconduct of one of the parents have on custody?

As stated above in the section “How Does Custody Get Decided As Between Parents,” one of the several factors the court will look to is the moral fitness of each parent. Additionally, if there is a history of physical violence by one parent, that parent cannot get custody at all unless he or she undergoes treatment.

For more information of the effects of a history of physical violence on custody, read Louisiana Revised Statute 9:364.

What effect does the mental health of one of the parents have on custody?

As stated above in the section “How Does Custody Get Decided As Between Parents,” one of the several factors the court will look to is the moral fitness of each parent. Additionally, if there is a history of physical violence by one parent, that parent cannot get custody at all unless he or she undergoes treatment.

For more information of the effects of a history of physical violence on custody, read Louisiana Revised Statute 9:364.

What effect does the preference of the child have on custody?

As stated above in the section “How Does Custody Get Decided As Between Parents,” one of the several factors the court will look to is the preference of the child IF the child is of sufficient age, intelligence and maturity to state such a preference.

For more information, read Louisiana Civil Code Articles 131-134.

How does visitation get set?

Visitation (or physical custody time) can vary from an equal 50/50 time split to sole custody with no visitation depending on the factors involved in the particular case at hand.

As with custody, visitation (or, in a joint custody situation, physical custody time) between a parent and a child is also determined in accordance with the child’s best interests. There is no “standard schedule” and the court will look to the same factors as those used to decide custody. In addition to those, other factors such as school may also help the court to decide.

Is there such a thing as “standard visitation”? If so, what is it?

No. The same factors as those used to decide custody will determine visitation (or physical custody time).

Is there a standard visitation pattern when the non-custodial parent is in a different state from the child? If so, what is it?

One important issue in today’s world of shifting employment is the relocation of one parent to another city or state. There is no “set rule” and the child’s best interest is still the standard. If the relocation occurs before the custody arrangement is ruled on by the court, the issue will be decided based on the same factors as discussed above. If the relocation occurs after custody and/or visitation has been ruled on, the party must move to change the arrangement BEFORE they relocate, based on a “material change in circumstances.”

For more information on this issue, read Louisiana Revised Statute 9:355.1.

What rules govern cases where the custodial parent wants to move away with the children?

No answer.

What visitation rights do grandparents have, if any?

Grandparents can, in special circumstances, obtain visitation (or even custody) of a child. Of course, the standard is the best interest of the child and there must be a very special relationship between the grandparent and the child that warrants court-ordered visitation.

For more information on this issue, read Louisiana Revised Statute 9:344.

Other issues in Louisiana:

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