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Child Custody FAQ 

Law Office of Ivy L. Graham June 10, 2024

Sad girl with divorced parents arguing for child custodyDealing with child custody issues can be challenging for parents. You're managing your own emotions while also focusing on what's best for your children. At the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham, we understand the complications and are here to help you through every step. 

What Is Child Custody? 

Child custody refers to the legal rights and responsibilities a parent has regarding their child's upbringing. This includes where the child lives, how they are cared for, and decisions about their education and health 

There are two main types of child custody: 

Physical Custody 

Physical custody determines where the child lives. It can be: 

  • Sole physical custody - The child lives with one parent most of the time. 

  • Joint physical custody - The child splits time living with both parents. 

Legal Custody 

Legal custody involves decision-making authority regarding the child's health, education, and welfare. Like physical custody, legal custody can be: 

  • Sole legal custody - One parent makes all major decisions for the child. 

  • Joint legal custody - Both parents share decision-making responsibilities. 

How Is Child Custody Determined in Louisiana? 

In Louisiana, courts consider several factors to determine the best interests of the child. The state is dedicated to providing a stable and loving environment for the child. Key considerations include: 

  • The child's emotional, physical, and educational needs 

  • The moral fitness of each parent 

  • The willingness of each parent to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent 

  • The mental and physical health of each parent 

  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment 

  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home 

  • The child's adjustment to their home, school, and community 

  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference 

  • Any history of substance abuse by either parent 

  • The distance between the parents' residences 

  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs 

How Can I Get Sole Custody of My Child? 

To gain sole custody, you must prove that it is in the child's best interest. This might involve demonstrating that the other parent is unfit due to factors like substance abuse, neglect, or abuse. 

Can We Share Custody and Still Live Far Apart? 

Yes, but it can be challenging. Joint custody requires both parents to communicate effectively and make decisions together. The distance can complicate this, especially regarding schooling and extracurricular activities. 

What Happens if One Parent Wants to Relocate? 

If a custodial parent wishes to move out of state or a significant distance away, they must obtain court approval. The court will consider how the move affects the child's relationship with the other parent and whether it benefits the child's overall well-being. 

Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With? 

While a child's preference is considered, it is not the sole factor. The court will evaluate the child's maturity and reasoning behind their preference. Ultimately, the decision is based on the child's best interest. 

How Can We Modify a Custody Agreement? 

To modify an existing custody order, the parent seeking the change must demonstrate a significant change in circumstances that affect the child's well-being. Examples of such changes include relocation, changes in the child's needs, or changes in the parent's ability to care for the child. 

What Happens if One Parent Is Not Following the Custody Agreement? 

If one parent does not comply with the custody agreement, the other parent can file a motion for contempt with the court. The court can enforce the agreement and may impose penalties on the parent who does not comply. 

Can Grandparents Get Custody or Visitation Rights? 

Grandparents can request custody or visitation rights under certain circumstances, such as if both parents are deemed unfit or if it's in the child's best interest. Courts consider the child's bond with the grandparents and other factors to determine if visitation or custody should be granted. 

Do Unmarried Parents Have Different Custody Rights? 

Unmarried parents have custody rights similar to those of married parents. However, paternity may need to be legally established for the father to assert his custody rights. Once paternity is established, custody matters are handled similarly to those involving married parents. 

Can a Custody Order Be Enforced Across State Lines?

Yes, custody orders can be enforced across state lines under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This law ensures that custody orders issued in one state are recognized and enforceable in another state, making it easier to manage custody arrangements when parents live in different states. 

Address Your Questions With a Lawyer

At the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham, we aim to provide personalized legal support tailored for you. Our approach is friendly, goal-oriented, and rooted in realistic expectations. We strive to help both parties reach an agreement that benefits everyone involved, especially the children. 

We work closely with our clients to understand their needs and goals. Our endless energy and strong work ethic ensure that we're always available to assist you, whether you're in Denham Springs, Louisiana, Livingston, Colyell, Holden, or Albany. 

If you have questions about child custody, call us today to schedule a consultation.