New Orleans Child Custody Lawyer

Louisiana Child Custody Laws

When parents are going through a divorce, they must make specific decisions in a variety of family matters, such as child custody and visitation. While Louisiana law encourages both parents to make these decisions together, the court will have the final say on the child custody arrangement.

At Lowe Stein, LLC, we are dedicated to helping you come to an agreement about child custody with the other party or going to trial for you if necessary. Even after a court order has been established, if the other parent fails to meet their obligations, our New Orleans child custody attorneys will help you enforce the court order.

Contact our New Orleans child custody lawyer right away to request a consultation for your Louisiana custody matter.


Louisiana Child Custody Laws

Louisiana follows the Uniform Child Custody Act. This means that the custody laws recognize that joint custody is an option for parents who are separated or divorced, the visitation rights of grandparents are recognized, and what the child wishes will typically be considered by the court before issuing the custody order. The child may state their preference by age 11.

Types of Custody in Louisiana

In Louisiana, there are 5 types of child custody -- legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, joint custody, and shared custody.

What each type of custody means:

  • Legal Custody - may be held by one or shared by both parents. Those with legal custody may make significant decisions about the child’s upbringing such as matters involving education, health care, religion, and more.
  • Physical Custody - may be held by one or shared by both parents. Physical custody refers to the child’s primary residence and who will handle the day-to-day care of the child.
  • Sole Custody - this type of custody may be applied to either legal custody or physical custody, or both. If one parent has sole custody, the non-custodial parent will be given rights to visitation if it is in the best interest of the child.
  • Joint Custody - both parents have equal legal authority when it comes to making important decisions for the child, but the parents do not have equal physical custody. A schedule is created to ensure that both parents have an opportunity to interact with the child, however, it is not an equal arrangement.
  • Shared Custody - an arrangement that allows both parents to have equal time with their child, equal parenting responsibilities, and legal authority.

Other Types of Custody in Louisiana

What is Split Custody?

If you have more than one child, then a split custody arrangement may be made. Each parent gets sole custody of at least one child that they both have.

Third Party Custody in LA

In some cases, there are times when neither parent is fit to take care of the child. In a situation like this, Louisiana child custody law allows a third party such as a relative or individual who has a close connection to the child to obtain custody instead.

For help with your case, choose skilled New Orleans child custody lawyers at Lowe Stein, LLC. Call (504) 517-8160 for a consultation.

About Joint Custody in Louisiana

If joint custody is the final custody arrangement, then one parent will be the “domiciliary parent” or the parent with whom the child will live primarily. This parent will also be responsible for making decisions for the child. If the non-domiciliary parent does not agree with a decision, they may challenge it in court.

Louisiana law favors joint legal custody and, to the extent feasible, an equal sharing of physical custody. When joint legal custody is awarded, one parent is designated the domiciliary parent. The domiciliary parent is the parent with whom the child primarily resides, and is ultimately responsible for making all major decisions affecting the child. These domiciliary parent Louisiana rights include such decisions as choice of school, elective medical procedures, religion, and at what age the child can drive. However, the domiciliary parent is required to first discuss the major decision with the other parent.

What to Include in a Joint Custody Plan

If you are planning on having joint custody of your child or children, both parents must submit a plan to the court that includes:

  • Which parent the child will live with
  • How much child support each parent will pay
  • How both parents will communicate with each other regarding parenting issues that may arise
  • How each parent will have access to the child
  • When each parent will have access to the child 

How is Child Custody Determined?

If both parents are able to create a custody agreement regarding primary physical custody and it serves the child’s best interests, then it is most likely that the court will approve it. If the parents cannot agree on reasonable arrangements, then the court will decide.

Parents often reach agreements regarding child custody. If they cannot, the court will do so, sometimes with the assistance of a custody evaluation. In all cases, when determining a child custody arrangement, the judge must decide what is in the best interest of the child, which is paramount.

The following are some of the factors considered in determining the best interest of the child:

  • Relationship between the child and parents
  • Child’s wishes if they are of sufficient age
  • Which parent has taken care of the child more
  • Parent’s capacity and willingness to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and other material needs
  • Parents’ willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and other parent
  • Parents’ mental and physical health
  • Parents’ moral fitness insofar as it affects the child’s welfare

Ensure that the best interests of your child are followed. 
Choose child custody attorneys in New Orleans with years of experience at Lowe Stein, LLC Call (504) 517-8160 for a consultation.

What is an Unfit Parent in Louisiana?

A parent may be deemed “unfit” by the family court if they have abused, neglected, or failed to provide care for the child or children. 

Other reasons why a parent may be unfit:

  • Mental illness - if the illness stops a parent from providing basic needs for a child, then they are in danger. The parent may be temporarily deemed unfit.
  • Substance abuse - a parent’s ability to care for and provide for a child’s needs may be impaired if they have problems with addiction or abusing substances.

Unfit Mother and Unfit Father Examples

Below are some examples of behavior that courts may use to decide if a parent is unfit. Bear in mind that both parents are responsible for meeting the needs of their child and ensuring that they are provided a safe living environment when the child is in their care. For example, the court will not hold a mother more responsible for taking the child to school than the father -- they are both responsible if the child is in their care.

Some examples of the behavior of an unfit parent:

  • Leaving a child unattended in a locked car
  • Leaving a child unattended at home
  • Parent has hoarding tendencies and does not provide a safe living environment -- the place is filled with items, unsanitary, infested with rodents or insects, lacks functional plumbing, etc.
  • Missing child visitation due to substance abuse
  • Driving while intoxicated with the child in the vehicle
  • Using or selling drugs where the child lives
  • Being incarcerated

What Happens if a Parent is Deemed Unfit?

If you are deemed an “unfit mother” or “unfit father” during a divorce, then your right to have a relationship with your child or children will be affected.

If you are an unfit parent, the consequences may include:

  • Denial of child custody
  • Loss of child custody which is then transferred to the other parent
  • Termination of parental rights

If both parents are deemed unfit by the court, then the child or children may be placed into foster care or may be adopted.

40+ Years of Experience on Your Side

Our New Orleans child custody lawyers have successfully represented many clients just like you. With more than four decades of experience, we have the thorough understanding of Louisiana’s family laws and court proceedings needed to obtain the results you desire.

Involved in a complex custody battle? Turn to our seasoned New Orleans child custody attorneys. We are here for here and are ready to fight for your parental rights and your child's best interest. Call Lowe Stein, LLC at (504) 517-8160 today.


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