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Legal Information: Louisiana

Custody

Updated: 
February 15, 2019

Can a parent who committed family violence or domestic abuse get custody?

In Louisiana, the judge will assume that any parent who has a history of family violence should not be awarded sole or joint custody. A “history of family violence” can be multiple incidents of family violence or it can be a single incident of family violence that caused serious physical injury. Family violence includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:

  • physical abuse;
  • sexual abuse; and
  • any offense listed in the Criminal Code of Louisiana (except negligent injuring and defamation) that is committed by one parent against the other parent or against any of the children.1

In addition, the judge will assume that any parent who has a history of domestic abuse should not be awarded sole or joint custody. Domestic abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:

  • physical abuse;
  • sexual abuse; and
  • any physical or non-physical offense listed in the Criminal Code of Louisiana (except negligent injury and defamation) committed by one family member, household member, or dating partner against another; or committed by an adult against his/her parent or grandparent.2

However, the abusive parent may be able to convince the judge that s/he should get custody if the abusive parent can prove all of the following:

  1. the parent has successfully completed a court-monitored domestic abuse intervention program after the last instance of abuse;
  2. the parent is not abusing drugs or alcohol; and
  3. the parent’s participation as a custodial parent is required for the child’s best interest because:
    • the non-abusive parent is:
      • absent;
      • mentally ill;
      • abusing drugs; or
    • there are other circumstances that negatively affect the child.3

If the judge finds that both parents have a history of family violence, custody will be given to the parent who is less likely to continue to commit family violence as long as s/he completes a court-monitored domestic abuse intervention program. If necessary to ensure the child’s safety, custody may instead be given to someone else (not the parent) as long as that the person would not allow the child to see the violent parent except as ordered by the court.4

If your child was conceived as a result of rape, see If my child was conceived as a result of rape, can the parent (offender) get any rights to my child? for more information.

1 LA R.S. 9:364(A); 9:362(4)
2 LA R.S. 9:364(A); 46:2132(3)
3 LA R.S. 9:364(A)
4 LA R.S. 9:364(B)

Can a parent who committed family violence or domestic abuse get visitation?

If the other parent was abusive to you, your children, or to another household member, it’s possible that the abusive parent can only get supervised visitation. Specifically, an abusive parent would only be eligible for supervised visitation in any situation in which:

  1. the parent has a “history of family violence” (as defined by law) against any household member;
  2. the parent subjected any of his/her children or step-children to family violence (as defined by law) or domestic abuse (as defined by law); or
  3. the parent had the ability to prevent another person from committing family violence or domestic abuse against his/her children or step-children but s/he “willingly permitted” it to happen.1

The parent cannot get the supervised visitation, however, until s/he proves at a court hearing that s/he successfully completed a court-monitored domestic abuse intervention program since the last incident of domestic violence or family abuse. At the hearing, the judge will also consider the following when deciding whether or not to grant supervised visitation:

  • evidence of the abusive parent’s current mental health condition;
  • the possibility that the abusive parent will again subject his/her children, step-children, or other household member to family violence or domestic abuse;
  • the possibility that the abusive parent would “willingly permit” such abuse to any of his/her children or step-children despite having the ability to prevent it;
  • whether the abusive parent proved that:
    • visitation would be in the best interest of the child; and
    • visitation would not cause physical, emotional, or psychological damage to the child.1

1 LA R.S. 9:341(A)

Can a parent who sexually abused my child (or another child) get custody?

In Louisiana, the judge will assume that any parent should not be awarded sole or joint custody if s/he:

  1. subjected any of his/her children, step-children, or any household member to sexual abuse, which is defined as committing any of the following:
  2. the parent had the ability to prevent another person from committing sexual abuse against his/her children or step-children but s/he “willingly permitted” it to happen.2

However, the sexually abusive parent may be able to convince the judge that s/he should get custody if the abusive parent can prove all of the following:

  1. the parent has successfully completed a treatment program designed for sexual abusers after the last instance of abuse;
  2. the parent is not abusing drugs or alcohol; and
  3. the parent’s participation as a custodial parent is required for the child’s best interest because:
    • the non-abusive parent is:
      • absent;
      • mentally ill;
      • abusing drugs; or
    • there are other circumstances that negatively affect the child.3

If your child was conceived as a result of rape, see If my child was conceived as a result of rape, can the parent (offender) get any rights to my child? for more information.

1 ​LA R.S. 9:364(A); 14:403(A)(4)(b)
2 ​LA R.S. 9:364(A)
3 LA R.S. 9:364(B)

Can a parent who sexually abused my child (or another child) get visitation?

If the other parent sexually abused you, your children, or another household member, it’s possible that the abusive parent can only get supervised visitation if s/he requests visitation in court. Specifically, a sexually abusive parent would only be eligible for supervised visitation in any situation in which a judge finds “clear and convincing evidence” that:

  1. the parent subjected any of his/her children, step-children, or any household member to sexual abuse, which is defined as committing any of the following:
  2. the parent had the ability to prevent another person from committing sexual abuse against his/her children, step-children, or a household member but s/he “willingly permitted” it to happen.2

The parent cannot get the supervised visitation, however, until s/he proves at a court hearing that s/he successfully completed a treatment program designed for sexual abusers. The parent can have no contact or visitation, however, before s/he proves that s/he successfully completed the treatment program. At the hearing, the judge will also consider the following when deciding whether or not to grant supervised visitation:

  • evidence of the abusive parent’s current mental health condition;
  • the possibility that the abusive parent will again subject his/her children, step-children, or other household member to sexual abuse in the future (either by personally committing the abuse or by “willingly permitting” someone else to do it); and
  • whether the abusive parent proved that:
    • visitation would be in the best interest of the child; and
    • visitation would not cause physical, emotional, or psychological damage to the child.2

1 ​LA R.S. 9:341(B); 14:403(A)(4)(b)
2 ​LA R.S. 9:341(B)

If my child was conceived as a result of rape, can the parent (offender) get any rights to my child?

If your child was conceived through felony rape, the offender who committed the felony rape cannot get any visitation rights or contact with your child.1

If there was an actual criminal conviction against the offender of a “sex offense” (as defined in section 15:541(subsection 24) of the law) that resulted in the conception of your child, then this conviction could be grounds for his parental rights to be legally terminated.2 Whereas usually the state files to terminate someone’s parental rights, in this case, you (the mother of the child) have the right to file the termination of parental rights petition in court yourself. If the offender’s rights are terminated, it will result in the loss of custody, visitation, contact, and other parental rights of the offender regarding the child. However, the child would still keep any inheritance rights that could come from the offender.

1 LSA-C.C. Art. 137(A)
2 LSA-C.C. Art. 1015(3)
3 LSA-C.C. Art. 1004(I)