Child Custody Attorney in Denham Springs, Louisiana
There were 61,163 children born in Louisiana in 2017, according to the Louisiana Department of Health’s State Registrar & Vital Records. Some of those children were born to married couples, some to unwed couples, but no matter their parents’ marital status, many of those children will ultimately have their care determined by a child custody agreement.
Deciding what is the best arrangement for the child – and getting both parents to agree – can be a difficult process. The Law Office of Ivy L. Graham can help guide you through this complex legal situation. We work hard to review your unique circumstances, inform you of your possible options, and fight for your legal rights. We are proud to work with individuals and families throughout Denham Springs, Louisiana, and the surrounding areas of Livingston, Springfield, Walker, French Settlement, Holden, and Albany.
Establishing a Child Custody Arrangement
Before you begin planning, it’s important to know that in Louisiana, there are two main options for establishing a child custody arrangement.
Option 1: Both Parents Agree
In this scenario, you and the other parent agree on your own terms. Then you present your child custody arrangement to the court for approval. This is the quickest, least expensive, and most painless option that should be used whenever possible. An experienced family law attorney can help you keep the conversation both productive and on track.
Option 2: Parents Disagree
If you and the other parent can’t come to an agreement on visitation and any other child custody matters, then the case goes to family court. The judge will use his or her best judgment in establishing a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child or children. A family law attorney will present your case to give you the best chance at achieving the arrangement that you know is the best for your family.
Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody
In almost all cases in Louisiana, the judge will award joint custody. This means the parents make decisions regarding the children jointly. Joint Custody does not determine the physical custody schedule. It is only governs decision-making authority.
It’s very rare that the court will award sole custody to one parent. However, if one of the child’s parents has a history of violence towards others, child abuse or neglect, substance abuse, or addiction, then the other parent may be awarded sole custody.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
There are two types of legal custody in Louisiana: joint and sole. Examples of legal custody decisions include but are not limited to the child’s educational and religious upbringing, where the child lives, and major medical decisions.
Physical custody is the actual time the child is with the parent. During a period of physical custody, the parent is responsible for the physical supervision, care, and safety of the child. The physical custody schedule can vary greatly based upon the facts of each case. Possible schedules are every other weekend, shared custody, or even split custody.
Factors Considered in Determining Custody and Parenting Time
Many factors are taken into consideration when determining the child custody arrangement, including the details of parenting time and visitation. There are twelve factors that the Louisiana State Legislature outlines. Some of the most important factors the court considers include:
Love, affection, and other emotional ties between each parent and the child
The ability of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs
How long a child has lived in a stable environment and how much they would benefit by staying there
The ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
The moral fitness of each parent
The mental and physical health of each parent
The distance between the parents’ homes
Other related factors
Modifying an Existing Child Custody Arrangement
It is possible to change a child custody agreement after it was originally set. It’s easier to get a modification if the parents both agreed on the terms of the first child custody arrangement. Then, the parents only have to prove that circumstances changed in order to alter the arrangement.
The situation is more complicated if the court set the original child custody agreement. The parents who want to change the agreement must prove two things. First, they must prove the change would be in the child’s best interest. Second, either it must be proved that to continue custody as it currently is would be so harmful to the child that it justifies the change, or it must be proved that not changing the custody agreement will cause more harm to the child than keeping it the same.
Proving both of these points can be difficult in the courtroom. A family law attorney can help navigate this complex situation.
Child Custody Attorney in Denham Springs, Louisiana
Agreeing on a child custody arrangement isn’t always easy, especially if there’s been a divorce. Child custody, parenting time, and visitation issues can be worked through with the help of an experienced family law attorney. The Law Office of Ivy L. Graham is proud to help clients in Denham Springs, Louisiana, and the neighboring areas of Livingston, Walker, Springfield, Watson, Holden, and Albany. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to learn more about your options.