From the moment children are born, their parents are crucial leaders and guardians for them.
When the parents separate, the issue of child custody arises. There is a notion that children are best served living with their mother, but that’s not how the courts evaluate the decision of child custody.
Instead, Louisiana child custody judges will rule as to the best interests of the child. This could mean a variety of different things, including declaring the father the domiciliary parent of the child.
To ensure that you and your child receive a favorable outcome, it’s best to hire a Louisiana family law attorney as soon as possible.
Factors Louisiana uses to determine child custody
Child custody in Louisiana is a complicated matter. As the courts seek to do what is best for the child, they will evaluate the following factors.
- The potential for the child to be abused shall be the primary consideration of the court
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The history of substance abuse, violence, or criminal activity of either parent
- The moral fitness of each parent
- Each parent’s ability to provide food, shelter and clothing for the child
- The reasonable preference of the child if the court finds that the child is old enough to express that preference
- The willingness of each parent to facilitate and encourage a relationship between that child and the other parent
There are many arrangements that parents and children can request.
One is that parents have shared custody and split their time with the child evenly. Other joint custody arrangements might have the child with a 60/40 split of time or other arrangements that favor one parent, the domiciliary parent, but still obligate the parents to discuss decisions that affect the minor child. Should the two parents be unable to agree regarding a decision that affects the minor child, the domiciliary parent would be able to make the decision. The non-domiciliary parent, if that parent still disagreed, could petition the court to change the domiciliary parent’s decision.
A father may receive sole custody in cases where the mother is unfit or unable to provide a safe and caring home for the child. Both parents are evaluated equally in the courts to determine a custody situation that will be best for the child’s physical and mental wellbeing.
How fathers can best position themselves to be awarded domiciliary status
Fathers seeking to be designated the domiciliary parent should make a few arrangements to increase their chances.
- Choose a living arrangement that provides a bedroom and a safe environment for the child. It’s also important that this be within the child’s current school district to provide as little disruption to their way of life as possible.
- Never put the child in the middle of any disagreements you may have with the other parent, or even speak ill of the other parent. Always foster a good relationship between your child and his or her other parent.
- Ensure that you are available for and involved in your child’s doctors appointments, extracurricular activities, and school.
- Secure a good job to prove financial ability to care for the child.
- Hire a family law attorney that will work to prove your case for domiciliary status.
Other factors that might sway the court’s decisions are the community standing of each parent. For example, a parent with a criminal record will face a more difficult road to a domiciliary parent designation than a parent in good standing with a clean criminal record.
Mental and physical health are also important. If one of the parents has a proven record of mental health issues, the other parent might be granted domiciliary status. These arrangements can be open to renegotiation once the parent who suffered mental health problems but overcame those issues.
For older children, the courts might allow the child to choose where he or she prefers to live. Remember that the court is seeking to rule in the best interests of the child, so it does what it can to honor those wishes once the child reaches a reasonable age.
Choosing a Louisiana child custody attorney
If you’re seeking to be designated as the domiciliary parent, you should certainly hire a skilled child custody attorney. Call Stanley-Wallace Law at 985-288-4621 to schedule a consultation for your child custody matter.