Like most states, the Louisiana child custody laws are primarily based upon what is in the "best interests of the child." If both parents can reach an agreement regarding who will have primary physical custody, the court will likely approve their proposed arrangement as long as it serves the child’s best interests.
If parents cannot agree on reasonable custody and parenting arrangments that meet their child's best interests, a court will have to decide.
A family court judge will want to examine several factors before making a decision pertaining to child custody. When considering the future of the children, the following will be of primary importance:
The parent who is not given primary physical custody will be entitled to visitation, unless there is proof that the child was physically or sexually abused by that parent, or some other factor makes visitation contrary to the child's best interests.
The preference that most judges follow is to give both parents custody of the kids. If parents submit a plan to the court for joint custody, it must include information about:
It is extremely rare for courts to award sole legal and sole physical custody to one parent, unless the judge finds that one parent is unfit. Some examples of this could be due to:
If a court finds a parent to be unfit, and grants sole legal and physical custody to the fit parent, the judge may still allow supervised visitation to the unfit parent, if it benefits the child in some way. This means that the noncustodial parent, who has for example, an addiction to alcohol, may be able to see his or her children, but only while being supervised by a third party, who can ensure the children remain safe during the visit.
Louisiana child custody laws also allow a third party to obtain custody. For example, when the children have been living in a stable and happy home with a relative or individual that has a close connection with the kids, a court may grant that person custody.
Before you make any decisions regarding the future of your children, it might be best to consult with a legal expert. If you are seeking sole custody, there are certain reasons why a judge may not grant your petition. If you're trying to get the kids out of vindictiveness against your spouse, this will not be viewed favorably by the court. Therefore, it's important to speak with a family law attorney prior to signing any type of custoday agreement, so that you understand your rights.