Child Custody Laws in Louisiana

By Jim Thomas

The law in Louisiana presumes that joint custody is in the best interest of minor children. The long-held notion that custody should go to the mother has become outdated in Louisiana and many other states. If you are in the process of divorce, Louisiana law encourages estranged spouses to work out a mutually agreeable parenting plan and custody arrangements for their kids.

Parenting Plan

Louisiana child custody statutes encourage divorcing parents to create their own joint custody agreement. Usually, the court will approve any reasonable custody agreement that is in the best interest of the child. The law requires a parenting plan be developed stating where the child will reside, child support amounts and when the child will visit or reside with the other parent. The parenting agreement should be detailed and specific, addressing points such as the holidays that the child will spend with each parent. It may be difficult for estranged spouses to work out a mutually agreeable plan, and the court can order meditation to help the parties resolve contentious issues.

Judicial Determination

If parents can't work out a parenting agreement on their own, a family law judge will decide custody arrangements. The law in Louisiana directs the court to consider the best interests of the child, which usually results in an award of joint custody unless compelling evidence suggests that some other arrangement would better serve the child's interest. The court will consider factors such as the emotional ties between each parent and each child; the moral, mental and physical health of the parents; the most stable living environment for the child; and the child's preferences.

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Child Support

Child support is an integral part of child custody law. Louisiana uses an "income share" formula that presumes it is in the child's best interest to receive the same amount of parental income as when the parents were married. The needs of the child and the resources of each parent are factors in determining child support. Generally, the rule in Louisiana is to combine the gross income of both parents and have each of them pay a proportional amount of total child support. This usually means that the parent earning the higher income pays the larger share. Child support is required until the child reaches 18 years of age, or age 19 if the child is still in high school.

Considerations

Family law courts in Louisiana can order evaluations of the parents or the child if good cause exists for doing so. A court-appointed social worker will write a report detailing her findings and she may be called to testify at the custody hearing. Visitation rights can be granted to grandparents or other parties other than the parents under Louisiana law if such a custody arrangement is in the child's best interest. The court will consider the child's desires and the length and quality of the relationship between the child and the third party, as well as whether that party can provide something for the child that the parents are not capable of providing.

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Pennsylvania Laws on Third Parties & Child Custody
 

References

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Child Custody Law in Utah

Utah places a strong emphasis on both parents having meaningful contact with their children following a divorce. To that end, the law sets a minimum visitation requirement as part of most custody arrangements. Agreements between parents are encouraged and will be supported by the court so long as they promote the child's best interests. Utah courts retain the authority to modify an existing order if conditions change and may find a parent in contempt if an order is not followed.

Child Custody Law in Maine

Going through divorce is never easy, especially when you have to sort out child custody issues with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. In Maine, you and your spouse are free to come up with your own parenting agreement; however, if the two of you are not on amicable terms or simply can't agree on one or more custody issues, the court will make custody determinations for you.

Alabama Joint Custody When Parents Live Far Apart

Before 2012, Alabama law gave family law judges a considerable amount of leeway in determining what type of custody arrangements were in the best interest of the child. While the law favored joint custody, unless the parents agreed on a different arrangement, judges could consider a number of factors that might make a joint custody arrangement unfeasible. One factor was the physical location of each parent. However, when the Alabama legislature adopted the 2012 Alabama Children's Family Act, the geographical proximity of the parents was eliminated as a factor in awarding custody. Whether the 2012 Act is an improvement is a matter of debate.

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