Child custody cases represent some of the most sensitive legal issues. In Louisiana, as in other states, the courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody decisions.
Understanding the four main factors a judge considers can help parents navigate this complex process.
1. The child’s relationship with each parent
A judge will look at the relationship between the child and each parent. This includes the love, affection and emotional ties that exist, as well as each parent’s ability to offer continuous care and guidance. The courts strive to maintain strong parent-child relationships when it is in the best interest of the child.
2. Ability to provide for the child’s needs
The capacity of each parent to meet the child’s physical, emotional and moral needs is another key factor. This includes considerations about each parent’s ability to provide food, shelter, medical care and educational support. The courts will also assess each parent’s willingness to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent.
3. The child’s wishes
If the child is old enough and able to express a preference, a judge may consider the child’s wishes in a custody decision. In Louisiana, there is no specific age at which a child’s preference becomes determinative. It is up to the judge’s discretion to determine whether the child’s preference is in their best interest.
4. Mental and physical health of all parties
The mental and physical health of the parents and the child can also influence custody decisions. If a parent has health issues that could affect their ability to care for the child, it may factor into the decision.
Understanding that judges in Louisiana consider a variety of factors when making child custody decisions while prioritizing the child’s best interests can help parents more easily navigate the process of child custody determinations.