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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)