What Are Child Custody Laws in Louisiana?

What are the best interests of the child?

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If you live in Louisiana and are going through a breakup with minor children involved, it's important that you have a good handle on child custody laws in the state. You may also want to reacquaint yourself with custody laws there if new circumstances require it. Perhaps you have remarried, your ex wants to play a bigger role in your child's life, or one of you plans to move away.

Louisiana uses several factors to determine custody.

Primarily, a family court in Louisiana will determine child custody based on the best interests of the child, so parents who wish to file for child custody in Louisiana should first become familiar with the custody statutes there.

Custody Agreement

In Louisiana, if parents agree on who will have custody of a child after separation, the court will order an arrangement in line with the custody agreement unless it fails to serve the child's best interests.

Best Interests of the Child

In Louisiana, the court will award custody based on the best interests of the child. There are several factors that determine a child's best interests including:

  • The love and affection between the child and the involved parties
  • Each parties' ability to provide food and shelter for the child
  • The mental and physical health of all parties
  • The child's preference, if the court deems the child to be of a sufficient age to express a preference (generally age 12 or older)
  • The distance between each parties' homes
  • The capacity of each party to love and care for the child
  • The capacity of each party to educate and raise the child
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable and loving environment
  • The moral fitness of each party

Third-Party Child Custody in Louisiana

A Louisiana court will award custody to a third party with whom the child has been living with in a happy, stable environment if awarding custody to either of the child's parents would result in danger to the child.

The court may also award custody to another person who is able to provide a stable and safe environment.

Visitation Rights 

In Louisiana, if a parent is not granted custody of a child, the parent is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds that visitation is not in best interests of the child. The court may also award visitation rights to another relative if the court determines visitation to be in the best interests of the child. The court will consider the following factors when determining appropriate visitation:

  • The child's preference, if the child is determined to be of a level of maturity to express a preference (generally age 12 or older)
  • The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the relative
  • Whether the child needs guidance that can best be provided by the relative

For more information about child custody in Louisiana, refer to the Louisiana Civil Code or speak with a qualified attorney in Louisiana.