Child Custody Laws in Louisiana: Understanding the Difference Between Custody Agreements

Apr 23, 2021

Child Custody Laws in Louisiana: Understanding the Difference Between Custody Agreements
Child custody laws in Louisiana

What are the Different Types of Child Custody in Louisiana?

Louisiana child custody laws can be similar to those in other states, but that isn’t always the case. Walking into a custody battle is hard enough as it is, and not knowing about Louisiana custody laws will not make it any easier. Familiarizing yourself with each type of custody agreement in Louisiana will help you and your child or children throughout the process. The most hoped for agreements are joint and shared custody agreements, and yes, they are different. 

Legal Custody vs Physical Custody

Louisiana custody laws allow for decisions to be made regarding both physical and legal types of custody. If a parent has physical custody, they act as the primary residence for the child and are responsible for day-to-day care. If a co-parent is granted legal custody, they are responsible for all important decision-making for the child. Legal custody includes decisions about education, religion, health issues, and any other potentially life altering decisions. Co-parents are typically able to divide these decisions up or even make them together if they are able to successfully cooperate with one other. If not, the decision is left up to the court, and it can be shared or granted solely to one of the parents.

Shared Custody vs Joint Custody

In a shared custody agreement, both parents spend equal time with the kid(s) and have equal responsibility when it comes to parenting and legal authority. This type of agreement required tremendous cooperation between both of the parents. Both parents will have to get along with their ex to ensure every situation is made with the child’s best interest in mind. They must also live relatively close to one another. The farther apart the parent’s are, the harder and less likely it is for their child or children to spend equal time with both of them. Distance is less of an issue in a joint custody agreement.
Unlike shared custody, a joint custody agreement recognizes that though each parent will have equal say in parenting responsibility and legal authority, time spent with the child will be unequal. The amount of time spent with each parent is decided based on what will best suit the needs of the kid(s) in question. This option still provides both parties with ample opportunity to communicate and interact with their child. However, not all agreements provide this opportunity.

Split Custody

If the divorcing parents have more than one child, a split custody agreement may be made. This means that each parent will be the sole custodial or domiciliary parent of at least one child each. Basically, if there is more than one child, one sibling goes with one parent, and the other sibling goes with the other parent, like in The Parent Trap. Child support may or may not be owed in these situations. However, this is a rare type of custody agreement because it is typically thought best that siblings are able to remain with one another as a mutual comfort. A split custody agreement is a seldom, but complex outcome, so involving an experienced child custody attorney is recommended. Even though this is a rare occurrence, it happens, as do sole custody arrangements when a single child is involved. 

Sole Custody

Sole custody agreements are rare, especially in Louisiana. The custody courts in Louisiana do not like to give full custody to one parent and cut the other parent out of the child’s life. However, the most important factor in determining the results of a custody battle is the question, “What is in the best interest of the child?” If sole custody is the outcome, the non-custodial co-parent will most likely be given visitation rights, but only if it is in the child’s best interest. The same goes for any third-party family members such as grandparents. The court considers a variety of factors when determining if visitation rights will be given, including the following:
  • the child’s preference if they are old enough and mature enough to understand the situation
  • the quality of the relationship between the child and the parent seeking visitation rights
  • the way the parent seeing visitation can care and provide for the child in a way that the domiciliary parent cannot
Again, it is extremely rare that a parent be granted sole legal and sole physical custody of their child or children, unless the judge finds the other parent is unfit. A number of things can cause a judge to deem a parent unfit, including a history of violence or substance abuse. Specific cases of of child abuse or neglect, whether it be emotionally, physically, sexually, or mentally, can also cause a parent to be deemed unfit. Although the non-custodial parent will have limited, usually supervised, visitation, they will still be obligated to pay child support. However, the non-custodial parent will typically retain access to the child’s school, medical, and dental records. 

In extreme cases, both parents may be found unfit. If this occurs De Facto custody may come into play. De Facto custody is a method used when assigning legal and physical custody to a third party, such as a grandparent, acquaintance, etc, by considering the relationship the child has with the third party as well as if / how long they maintained a primary residence with them. This is called non-parental custody, which can also occur if a parent is deceased or cannot be found. Additionally, Louisiana custody laws regarding De Facto allow for custody to be granted to 3 people, the third person serving as a mediator of sorts. This being a rare and especially complex instance, speaking with a Louisiana custody lawyer is highly recommended.

Contact an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer Today

Under Louisiana law, parents have the right to seek to modify their custody agreements. However, a change in situation is typically needed to have the modifications approved, unless both co-parents have a mutual agreement. If it goes to court, the parent seeking the modification must be able to prove that the change is in the best interest of the child. The parent must also be able to prove that continuing the current custody agreement is so harmful to the child that the negative effects outweigh the positive effects.
Although divorce, custody agreements, and custody modifications can be difficult, the associates here at Rozas Law Firm will do everything in our power to fight for you and your family. Why choose Rozas? With over 16 years of trial experience on both state and federal levels, it has become our mission to aid those in our community who are in need, much like David Rozas watched his father do for 35 years. Become part of our family and book your free consultation today! To schedule, please call our office in Baton Rouge at 225-478-1111, or contact us online.

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