There are many misconceptions about child custody in Louisiana. Some people I have spoken with are under the impression that the mother “is always granted custody” while others believe that the former spouse with the greater income usually receives custody. In an effort to debunk some of these myths, I will attempt to explain in a very general way, the applicable law and standards in a custody case by referencing some Louisiana code articles and statutes and discussing their meaning.
“In a proceeding for divorce, or thereafter, the court shall awad custory of a child in accordance with the best interest of the child.” La. Civil Code Article 131 (La.CC. 131).
The Louisiana Civil Code makes clear that a court’s primary consideration in all custody proceeding is the best interest of the minor child. “If the parents agree who is to have custody, the court shall award custody in accordance with their agreement unless the best interest of the child requires a different award. In the absence of an agreement, or if the agreement is not in the best interest of the child, the court shall award custody to the parents jointly; however, if the custody in one parent is shown by clear and convincing evidence to serve the best interest of the child, the court shall award custody to the parent.” La.C.C. 132.
When parents are granted joint custody, sometimes a domiciliary parent is appointed. A domiciliary parent is the parent who generally has authority to make major decisions and with whom the child will primarily reside. The joint custodian that is not the domiciliary parent will have physical custody of the child in accordance with the implementation order and should have “frequent and continuing contact with both parents.” LSA-R.S. 9:335. “To the extent it is feasible and in the best interest of the child, physical custody of the children should be shared equally.” LSA-R.S. 9:335.
If the parents can reach an agreement on the terms of a custody agreement, the court will normally issue a child custody decree pursuant to the terms of that agreement if the court deems the agreement in the child’s best interest. This type of custody order is called a “consent judgment or consent decree.” If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the court will take testimony and consider evidence that relate to the best interest of the children. This type of custody decree is called a “considered judgment of considered decree” since the court has heard testimony and considered evidence before rendering a judgment of child custody.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this article is or should be considered legal advice. The information in this article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship, and viewing or receipt of information from this article does not create an attorney-client relationship.