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Child Custody Attorney in Shreveport, Louisiana

Simply put, Louisiana law requires that the Court evaluate and determine custody based upon “the best interest of the child(ren)”. (see La. CC Art. 131) The Court will award custody according to an agreement by the parents unless the “best interest of the child(ren)” requires otherwise. If no agreement can be reached, or the Court feels the agreement is not in the best interest of the child(ren), then the Court will award joint custody. However, either parent can overcome the presumption of joint custody by providing “clear and convincing evidence” that sole custody of one parent is in “the best interest of the child” (see La. CC Art. 132). A parent not awarded custody is entitled to reasonable visitation. The following 12 factors listed in LA. CC Art. 134 are used to determine the “Child(ren)’s best interest:”
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  1. The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.

  2. 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.

  3. The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.

  4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment.

  5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.

  6. The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.

  7. The mental and physical health of each party.

  8. The home, school, and community history of the child.

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

  10. The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party.

  11. The distance between the respective residences of the parties.

  12. The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.

  • Shared CustodySometimes the Court will grant each parent equal time with the child(ren). This can be done on a week to week basis or some other workable schedule. This basically means that parents spend equal time with the children and each parent has an equal say in the decision-making process. This works best when the parents get along and both act in the best interest of the child(ren).

  • Joint CustodyThis envisions a situation where both parents are entitled to frequent and continuing contact with the children most often set forth in a Joint Custody Implementation Plan or (JCIP). However, the Court will usually designate one parent as the domiciliary parent. The domiciliary parent is the parent with whom the child(ren) primarily resides. The JCIP will set up a visitation schedule for the non-domiciliary parent. Both parents will be given the right to participate in major decisions about the children’s upbringing, the right to view various records, and full and frequent access to communication with the child(ren) at all times. This means that the non-domiciliary parent is most often given visitation every other weekend a weekday evening or two, and the parents alternate holidays. Provisions can also be made for summer school, special vacations, and other agreed-upon times.

  • Sole Custody – One parent is given primary custody over the child(ren). The burden of proof to attain this is much higher and defined as “clear and convincing evidence” under LA CC Art. 132 Reasonable visitation is still given to the other parent subject to the “best interest of the child” standard. However, visitation may be restricted and/or supervised if the circumstances require it.

  • Child Support – Both parents are required to support any children they have. Child support is paid to the domiciliary parent in most instances. The amount of support paid is determined based upon the child support guidelines. (See La. Rev Stat 9:315) It is based upon the number of children, whether custody is joint or shared, and the gross income of the parties. Expenses such as medical, dental, child care, and other extraordinary expenses are also taken into account. However, in shared custody arrangements, child support is sometimes paid to the parent making the least amount of income.