Louisiana law encourages parents to work out custody arrangements themselves without bringing the issue to court. If they cannot come to an agreement, courts make custody decisions based on what is in the "best interest" of the child.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a detailed, written agreement that sets out how divorcing parents will share legal and physical custody of their children. If parents can agree on a parenting plan, the court will typically approve their plan. However, the plan must still be in the best interest of the child.
What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?
Louisiana courts balance a series of factors when determining the best interest of a child. These factors include:
- The emotional bond between the parent and child,
- The child’s health, welfare, safety, and material needs,
- The child’s need for stability and ability to adjust to change,
- The emotional and developmental needs of the child,
- The physical and mental health of the parent,
- The distance between the parents’ residences,
- Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse, and
- The child’s reasonable preference (if age appropriate), and
- The parents’ wishes.
A parent’s gender is not considered as a factor. In a custody dispute, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to advocate for the child and help assess his or her best interests.
What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?
Once the parenting plan and divorce order are signed, they are filed with the court clerk. Both parents are then bound by the approved parenting plan and the court must approve any modification of the plan. In Louisiana, it is easier to modify a voluntary parenting plan or agreement than a court’s custody order. A family law attorney can guide you through the modification process.
Should I Contact a Louisiana Lawyer Regarding my Custody Issues?
Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and require a detailed understanding of the law. If you have concerns about custody and parenting time, it is important that you speak with an experienced family law lawyer. A lawyer will help advocate for you and your child and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.