In Need of A Child Custody Lawyer in Baton Rouge, LA?
At the Russell Law Firm, LLC, our Baton Rouge child custody attorneys represent parents throughout Louisiana who are making difficult decisions regarding their children’s futures — whether they are getting divorced, or have never been married.
Our East Baton Rouge Parish family lawyers know that determining where your shared children will live, and who will make decisions about their day-to-day lives are more than important determinations: They are highly emotional, complex, and difficult conversations.
We can help you understand your legal rights and options to pursue sole custody, joint custody, shared custody, and visitation rights based on your unique family dynamics and circumstances starting with a case evaluation.
What are the Different Types of Child Custody in Louisiana?
The first distinction our Baton Rouge child custody attorneys must make is the difference between legal custody and physical custody.
- Legal custody refers to the designation of custody, which may include sole custody — where one parent is assigned complete custody of the child(ren) — or joint custody, where parents share the responsibilities of raising their children.
- Physical custody refers to the amount of time that the children spend with each parent.
Under Louisiana law, parents are granted either sole, joint, or shared custody in the following arrangements:
Under a sole custody arrangement, one party is granted the sole physical custody and decision making authority regarding the children’s child education, healthcare, and welfare, including where they go to school, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
Under a joint custody arrangement, both parents are afforded some physical custody and decision making authority regarding the child, except the parent designated by the court as the “domiciliary parent,” has authority to make the “major” decisions about the child’s life.
Shared custody is when children spend an equal amount of time with both parents individually. During shared custody, the parents will understand the specific times they are assigned with the children on a day-to-day basis, and during school breaks, summer holidays, and vacations. Further, both parents share the decision making authority regarding the child’s education, health, and welfare.
Visitation designates a certain amount of time a child spends with the noncustodial parent.
At the Russell Law Firm, LLC, our trusted child custody attorneys know that most parents want to spend as much time as possible with their children. We can help you build your case for success by pursuing the best outcome for your children’s unique needs, based on their best interests, and the legal threshold that determines how custody will be determined.
How Do the Louisiana Family Courts Determine Who Gets Custody of the Children During a Divorce?
In Louisiana, parents can decide privately with the help of their attorneys how they want to split both legal and physical custody of their children. In some cases, parents may not be able to agree on how the children should split their time and may require child custody mediation to develop the best outcome.
When child custody litigation is necessary, meaning the parents cannot agree on custody details in private, or during mediation, their family lawyers will take their case to court and present their arguments before a judge.
Establishing custody through the Louisiana family court system requires further evaluation of factors the courts consider in rendering a child custody decision that is in the best interest of the children.
The family law judge may consider the following factors, and others they find relevant to each specific case:
- Potential for the child to be abused.
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.
- 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.
- The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.
- The history of substance abuse, violence, or criminal activity of any party.
- 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.
- The home, school, and community history of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
- 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.
- The distance between the respective residences of the parties.
- The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.
Allow our skilled child custody attorneys to review the details of your important family law case, starting with a case assessment today.
At The Russell Law Firm, LLC, We Also Focus On The Following Practice Areas:
The Russell Law Firm, LLC is in Your Corner, and We Fight to Win
If you are pursuing a divorce with children in Louisiana — or if you and your children’s other parent were never married — and are unsure of where to start, our Baton Rouge child custody attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and options to pursue the best outcome. We will begin by dispelling all family law myths, so you know the facts of your case, and can make informed decisions about your and your kids’ futures.
You do not have to be afraid of the unknown. We can help.
- Child Custody: What A Family Law Attorney Can Do For You
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- Mistakes To Avoid In Child Custody Disputes
Frequently Asked Questions for Child Custody in Baton Rouge
Yes, it is advisable to consult with a Baton Rouge child custody attorney even if you were never married. Child custody matters can be complex, and having legal representation can help protect your rights and ensure the best interests of the child are considered.
In Louisiana, the court’s primary focus in child custody cases is the best interests of the child. While sole custody can be awarded in certain situations, there is a preference under Louisiana law to award joint custody, so long as it is in the best interest of the child. In determining the best interest of the child, the court considers factors such as the parents’ ability to cooperate, the child’s relationship with each parent, and each parent’s ability to meet the material needs of the child.
No, visitation rights and child support are separate legal matters. A parent cannot refuse visitation to the other parent solely based on unpaid child support. Both child custody and child support orders are enforceable by the court, and if one parent is not complying with the court-ordered visitation or child support, legal remedies can be pursued.
In Louisiana, there is no specific age at which a child can choose which parent they want to live with or refuse visitation. The court considers the child’s preferences as one factor among many in determining custody arrangements, but the ultimate decision is based on the child’s best interests. The court will take into account various factors, including the child’s age, maturity, and ability to express their wishes.
Yes, a child custody agreement can be modified if there has been a material change in circumstances or if it is in the best interests of the child. Either parent may petition the court to request a modification of the custody agreement. In determining whether a modification is warranted, the court will consider whether there has been a material change in circumstances since the rendition of the existing custody judgment; and whether the proposed modification is in the best interest of the child.
It is highly unlikely that your child will need to appear in court for the child custody hearing. Courts can usually decide custody based on the documentary and testimonial evidence presented by the parents, witnesses, and attorneys. However, under certain circumstances, the court may seek a direct assessment of the child in court or through an expert outside of court.
Even if you have full physical custody of your child in Louisiana, you generally cannot move out of state without the other parent’s permission or without obtaining court approval. Relocation with a child is considered a significant change that may impact the other parent’s visitation rights and the child’s relationship with the other parent. If you wish to move the child out of state, you must first provide notice of the proposed relocation to the other parent or person(s) with custodial rights and obtain court approval.
If your ex is not abiding by the child custody arrangement in Louisiana, you have the option to file a motion for contempt with the court. This means you can ask the court to enforce the custody order and hold your ex in contempt for failing to comply. The court can then take various actions to enforce the custody order, such as issuing warnings, imposing fines, modifying the custody arrangement, or even holding the non-compliant parent in contempt of court, which may result in penalties or sanctions.
If you have previously lost custody of your child in Louisiana, it is still possible to regain custody in certain circumstances. You would need to demonstrate to the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the previous custody order was issued and that it is now in the best interests of the child to modify the custody arrangement. The court will consider factors such as the stability of each parent’s home environment, the ability to provide for the child’s needs, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any other relevant factors.
Louisiana does not require mandatory child custody mediation in all cases.