The New Orleans child custody attorneys of HNK Family Law are driven to help families throughout Louisiana with their custody issues.
We know how sensitive these matters can be for all parties involved and will work hard to make sure the wellbeing of your children is considered in any decision you make.
In Louisiana, child custody is made up of two component parts: physical custody (the time actually spend with each parent) and legal custody (the decision making authority the parent has over their children). The Court weighs a set of factors as set out by the Louisiana legislature to determine the child’s best interest in establishing both physical and legal custody of the children. The prevalence of domestic abuse in Louisiana has recently led to changes in the best interest factors which can prevent parents found by a Court to be abusive from having physical custody or have decision making authority over their children.
Factors in Determining Physical and Legal Custody
The court determines custody based on what it believes to be the best interests of the children. The court considers all relevant factors, including the following, as set out in Louisiana Civil Code art. 134, where applicable:
(1) The potential for the child to be abused, as defined by Children’s Code Article 603, which shall be the primary consideration.
(2) The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.
(3) The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child.
(4) The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.
(5) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment.
(6) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
(7) The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.
(8) The history of substance abuse, violence, or criminal activity of any party.
(9) The mental and physical health of each party. Evidence that an abused parent suffers from the effects of past abuse by the other parent shall not be grounds for denying that parent custody.
(10) The home, school, and community history of the child.
(11) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
(12) The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party, except when objectively substantial evidence of specific abusive, reckless, or illegal conduct has caused one party to have reasonable concerns for the child’s safety or well-being while in the care of the other party.
(13) The distance between the respective residences of the parties.
(14) The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.
In cases involving a history of committing family violence, as defined in R.S. 9:362, or domestic abuse, as defined in R.S. 46:2132, including sexual abuse, as defined in R.S. 14:403, whether or not a party has sought relief under any applicable law, the court shall determine an award of custody or visitation in accordance with R.S. 9:341 and 364. The court may only find a history of committing family violence if the court finds that one incident of family violence has resulted in serious bodily injury or the court finds more than one incident of family violence.