Child Custody & Support FAQs
Are there guidelines for child custody in Louisiana?
Most parents realize that it is in their best interest and the best interest of the children if they can decideon custody and visitation without the help of a court. Leaving these issues up to the court creates an element of surprise that most people would rather live without. Louisiana does have child custody guidelines that the court must consider if the parents are incapable of agreement in making importatnt decisions together for their children.
Is a written custody agreement necessary?
Yes. It is in the best interests of the child to have a custody agreement in place in order to give them a sense of stability. It is also a level of protection for the parents in case one of the parents becomes uncooperative.
When is custody decided?
Often times the Court will order the parties to go to mediation to discuss custody arrangements. If the parties cannot agree to anything the court will often enter a temporary order regarding the custody giving one parent domicilliary custody and providing visitation for the other until a trial can be held.
What some types of custody arrangements?
Joint Custody means that both parents share the legal custody of their child and should try to work together to make the decisions that affect the child's interests.
Domiciliary custody is the parents that the child resides with the majority of the time. If there is a disagreement in a joint custody situation, it is the domiciliary parent whom the ultimate authority to make decisions rests with, but decisions must always be in the child's best interests.
Split custody is an uncommon custody plan that the court may uses to place some of the children with one parent and other children with a different parent. This is not a preferred arrangement of Louisiana law.
Non-parental custody may occur if is proven that neither of the parents is suitable to raise the child. Custody is then granted to someone other than the natural parent, usually a relative or very close friend of the family.
Can custody and visitation be modified?
Sure. It is impossible to know what will happen in the future when setting the original custody & visitation arrangement/order. An agreement of the parents can be modified rather easily if there is new agreement of the parents. If a Court Order is in place it will require that a material change in circumstances has occurred within the custodial parent's home/life. This is one reason why Mediation is preferred.
What about Grandparents' rights?
It is possible for grandparents or other non-parents to obtain custody or be granted visitation with a child in some circumstances. Custody would only be granted to a non-parent if it is proven that neither parent is capable of raising the child. It is easier for non-parent visitation, however, because it only requires that the person has a meaningful relationship with the child and that it is in the child's best interests for that relationship to continue.
How is child support set in Louisiana?
Specific guidelines have been set by the Louisiana Legislature. These guidelines follow a specific mathematical formula that takes into account both parties gross income and the percentage that each party contributes to the household. Other factors such as education, health insurance, and special needs of children may also be taken into account.
Does child support exist without divorce?
Absolutely. Not all parents of children were married, but the law still requires contributions from both parents. Even if married, Louisiana will allow a parent to file for custody and support even if a divorce is not pending.
Should child support stop if visitation is being prevented?
No. Child support and visitation are two separate issues and each is a separate legal duty.