Child Custody
Child custody is determined in one of two ways: by agreement (consent), or by judicial determination (considered decree). If the parents agree who is to have custody, the court shall award custody in accordance with their agreement unless the best interest of the child requires a different award. In the absence of agreement, or if the agreement is not in the best interest of the child, the court shall award custody to the parents jointly; however, if custody in one parent is shown by clear and convincing evidence to serve the best interest of the child, the court shall award custody to that parent.  The court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of the child. Such factors may include:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.
  • The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child.
  • The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment.
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  • The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.
  • The mental and physical health of each party.
  • The home, school, and community history of the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
  • The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party.
  • The distance between the respective residences of the parties.
  • The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.

Nondomiciliary parent
The parent who is not given primary physical custody will be entitled to visitation, unless there is proof that the child was physically or sexually abused by that parent.

Sole Custody
Although most judges give both parents custody of the kids,
they do award sole legal and physical custody to one parent when the other has been deemed unfit. Some examples of this could be due to:
  • A history of violence towards others;
  • Addiction to drugs or alcohol;
  • A parent is guilty of  seriously abusing a family member;
  • Neglect or abuse of the child, including:
    • emotional, physical, sexual and mental abuse
The central test for awarding visitation rights is what is in "the best interest of the child." All non-custodial parents are entitled to access and visitation with their minor children, unless there is an allegation of abuse.

In Louisiana, if a parent is not granted custody of a child, the parent is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds that visitation is not in best interests of the child. The court may also award visitation rights to another relative if the court determines visitation to be in the best interests of the child. The court will consider the following factors when determining appropriate visitation:
  • The child's preference, if the child is determined to be of a level of maturity to express a preference (generally age 12 or older)
  • The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the relative
  • Whether the child needs guidance that can best be provided by the relative
Supervised Visitation
Non-custodial parents who have a history of family violence or physical abuse toward the child or children may not be allowed regular visitation privileges; if allowed by the courts, they only have supervised visitation.

Grandparent Rights
Although parents are granted the fundamental Constitutional right to make decisions concerning the rearing of their child, grandparents are very important to the family and frequently provide a stable and loving figure in a child’s life
. Consequently,such grandparents are often entitled to reasonable visitation rights. The key, as always, is whether such visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child.

At the Lafayette, Louisiana, offices of Nathan G. Frazier, we represent clients throughout Abbeville, Breaux Bridge, Crowley, New Iberia, Opelousas, St. Martinville, Lafayette Parish, Arcadia Parish, Iberia Parish, St. Martin Parish, St. Landry Parish and Vermillion Parish, Louisiana.