A divorce is never easy for a family. As you or perhaps someone you know may attest to, many times a family is never the same. For this reason, one of the utmost concerns is the custodial arrangement of the children. Their young and impressionable minds need to be considered, and every effort must be made to preserve their growth and development even in the face of such a personal tragedy.
In the state of Louisiana, a family court typically wants both parents to have custody of the child or children. Assuming that the divorce is relatively amicable, and the parents can agree on a custody arrangement between themselves, a court will probably honor it.
If a court can sense that the parties to the divorce are well-meaning, supportive, and loving parents, they very well may approve whatever custodial arrangement the parents come up with. It is important to note however, that article 132 does permit a court to overrule an agreement between the parents “if the best interests of the child requires a different award.”
What does that mean exactly? Well take for example two parents who agree to joint custody of their only child exactly fifty-fifty. Furthermore, let’s say that they agree to swap the child every 24 hours. One of the parents lives in New Orleans, and the other parent lives in Baton Rouge. Every day, they agree to meet in the middle of the two cities to exchange the child.
A court very well might look at this arrangement and find it unworkable. For one thing, if the child is going back and forth between houses every single day, he or she is likely going to have problems finding and maintaining stable social ties to one community or the other. The constant back and forth travel could arguably jeopardize that child’s ability to develop.
Many times, Louisiana family courts will award joint custody and try and work with the parents to find a fair solution to visitation of the child after or during a divorce. It is also worth noting however, that article 132 gives courts the power to award custody to only one parent, if shown by “clear and convincing” evidence that such custody would serve the best interests of the child. “Clear and convincing” evidentiary standard is less than the criminal “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, and yet more strict than the civil law “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This basically means that, generally, a court needs to be more than just half-convinced that only one custodial parent will truly benefit the child. This is because Louisiana courts are always hesitant to eschew the custodial rights of parents.
This article is written with the sole intention of providing information. It is not legal advice. Will Beaumont practices divorce law in New Orleans, LA.