Factors the Court Considers
of Custody Arrangements
This is far and away the most difficult
area of family law, as it does not take much of an imagination
to come to the conclusion that people will fight for their
children over and above everything else in this world, and
That said, the Court considers various
factors that are enumerated in the Civil Code to decide which
parent is best suited to be the domiciliary parent of the
child. Those factors are things one might expect such as each
party's history in taking care of the child, the type of influence
each party would be on the child, and each party's ability
to provide the child with a good education. Also, the Court
reviews the moral fitness and mental health of the parties,
along with each party's ability to provide the child with
material needs and also whether either parent is more willing
to let the other continue to have access to the child. These
are but a few of the factors, and it is beyond the scope of
this discussion to go into all the details. It requires a
consultation with the client to fully inform a client about
all of the issues involved in their particular case.
Child custody litigation is much more
complicated than most persons would think at first blush.
Trials require a very fact intensive investigation that not
only demands a full understanding of each parent's ability
to care for the child, but also requires the needs of the
child be considered more so than anything else. One of the
hardest things for parents to understand is that the Court
is not going to take into account what either parent "wants,"
or whether or not any decision appears to be fair to the parents.
The best interest of the child is the issue, not whether either
parent is fairly treated.
As such, although more complicated than
addressed here with many sub issues involved, child custody
cases can be boiled down to what is in the best interest of
the child. Unfortunately, many child custody cases turn into
battles of will between the parents who are actually (and
often unknowingly) enlisting the children into a war between
the parents, and the best interests of the children suffer
Types of Custody Arrangements
Custody arrangements in Louisiana have
been evolving, just like custody arrangements nationwide.
As most people know, in the "old days" it was thought
that children need to be with their mother. It was pretty
much a standard arrangement for the mother to have custody
of the children and the father receive alternating weekend
However, times have changed. Both State
and Federal laws indicate that children need the support of
both of their parents and need to be involved with both parents.
To that end, joint custody of the children is recommended
and mandated by law such that far and away most custody arrangements
are those of the joint custody type with as much of a fifty-fifty
time sharing of the children as possible.
Once a joint custody has been declared, then usually one parent
is named the "domiciliary" parent and that is where
the child actually lives. That parent enjoys some advantages
such as a rebuttable presumption that they should be entitled
to income tax dependency deductions, and that they should
be the "tie breaker" on making decisions about the
child such as medical decisions and where the child attends
school, etc. However, the other parent who is the non-domiciliary
parent is still a joint custodian and has complete and unfettered
access to medical records, school records, and certainly must
be recognized and included by the domiciliary parent in decision-making.
Sole Custody in Circumstances that Endanger the Child
Other types of custody arrangements can be much more limited
if there are circumstances involved such that the child would
be placed in danger. Of course, there is an available option
of sole custody where one parent is completely in control
of the child and the other parent can no longer participate
whatsoever in any decision making, and won't have access to
any records or interfere in the child's school, or participate
in any other decisions including medical decisions. Usually,
these cases are limited to circumstances in which one of the
parents is severely disabled mentally, or has some sort of
criminal history, chemical dependency history, child abuse
or sexual molestation history, or some other serious impediment
that would place the child in danger if that parent were allowed
to participate as a joint custodian.
Visitation While Undergoing Rehabilitation
There are cases that are not as bad as the Sole Custody cases,
but require that the parent who is questionable must obtain
some sort of treatment. In many of these joint custody cases,
the party may receive supervised visitation of the children
until he or she has been rehabilitated to the Court's satisfaction
such that supervised visitation is no longer necessary.
of the Judge
Custody issues, and different types of visitation and custody
plans, have evolved rapidly over the last few years. Also,
the outcome in custody litigation can vary depending on which
judge determines your case. Of course, there is no way to
pick a judge and when you file suit it is a random process.
Steve Roberts has extensive experience with all of the Family
Law Courts such that feedback will be available to the client
about what the different perspectives are of the various Family
Custody and visitation cases are as varied
as snowflakes, and each party's particular facts and circumstances
must be carefully reviewed by an attorney to provide advice
as to what is possible and what should be pursued as an arrangement
that will be in the best interest of the children.