Legal Information: Louisiana

Custody

Updated: 
February 15, 2019

How will a judge make a decision about custody?

Custody is determined according to what the judge considers to be in the child’s best interests.1

If the parents agree who is to have custody, the court will award custody according to their agreement unless:

If the parents do not agree or if their agreement is not in the child’s best interests, the court will award custody to the parents jointly unless:

When making a decision about the child's best interests, the judge will consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

  • the potential for the child to be abused - this is the most important consideration;
  • love, affection, and other emotional ties between each parent and the child;
  • the ability of each parent to support the emotional, educational and material (such as food, clothing, medical care, etc.) needs of the child;
  • the length of time the child has lived in a stable environment, and the desirability of staying within that environment;
  • the stability of the existing or proposed custodial home(s);
  • the moral fitness of each parent and how it affects the child’s well-being;
  • any history of substance abuse, violence, or criminal activity of the parties;
  • the mental and physical health of each party - however, evidence that an abused parent suffers from the effects of past abuse by the other parent is not a reason to deny that parent custody.
  • the home, school, and community history of the child;
  • the reasonable preference of the child (if the judge thinks the child is old enough to give a preference);
  • the willingness of each parent to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent except when substantial evidence of specific abusive, reckless, or illegal behavior causes a parent to have reasonable concerns for the child's safety or well-being while in the care of the other parent;
  • the distance between the homes of the parents; and
  • the previous role and responsibility of each parent regarding caring for and raising the child.3

If it is proven that one parent has abused the other, the fact that the abused parent suffers from the effects of the abuse cannot be grounds for denying that parent custody.4

1 LA C.C. Art. 131
2 LA C.C. Art. 132
3 LA C.C. Art. 134(A)
4 LA C.C. Art. 134(A)(9)