When you’re going through a divorce, custody of your children can be one of the issues that you’re most concerned about. And if you’re filing for custody under some other circumstances, chances are that your reasons are even more important.
While you may know what’s best for your child, you may not have a full understanding of the legal process of filing for custody in Louisiana. That’s why it’s crucial to have an attorney with experience in child custody cases by your side the entire time.
From Stanley-Wallace Law in Slidell, here are 5 things that a lawyer can help you with during a Louisiana custody case.
Understanding types of custody in Louisiana
Some of the language around child custody can be confusing in Louisiana law, and you may need a lawyer to help you understand it.
There are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to which parent has legal responsibility for raising the child, while physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with or spends time with.
Once you understand the distinction between these two terms, you can understand the difference between the 3 types of custody arrangements in Louisiana:
- Sole custody: One parent has full legal custody over the child. That parent may also have full physical custody, or they may share physical custody in the form of visitation rights.
- Joint custody: Both parents share legal custody, but don’t necessarily share physical custody equally. The parent with primary physical custody is referred to as the domiciliary parent.
- Shared custody: Both parents share legal custody and physical custody equally. Shared custody is a type of joint custody.
As you can see, the types of custody arrangements in Louisiana law can be complicated and overlapping. In order to understand which arrangement is the best for you and your children, you may want to discuss your case with an experienced child custody law attorney.
Working through the paperwork and legal process
Filing the paperwork, serving it to the opposing parties, and presenting it to the court can all be an intimidating experience. Here are the steps for officially filing for custody in Louisiana:
- Filing a petition or motion for custody
- Serving the petition to the opposing parties
- Receiving an answer, opposition, or countermotion
- Hearing or trial
Sometimes, this process can be dragged out for months or even years. An attorney can help you understand every step of the process, and make sure you’re getting what’s best for you and your child.
Negotiating with the other parties
Chances are that the opposing party or parties — whether it’s your ex, the child’s other parent, or two parents — will have an attorney representing them. When sitting down to discuss custody arrangements, you’ll need an attorney by your side looking out for your and the child’s interests.
Even if you have a good relationship with the opposing parties, and you expect your discussion of custody arrangements to be civil, it’s still a good idea to have an attorney to talk things over with.
Avoiding common mistakes during custody battles
When filing for custody in Louisiana, there are a number of common mistakes people make that end up hurting their case. Here are a few examples:
- Moving the child’s location without talking to the other parent
- Withholding the child’s access to their other parent
- Talking bad about the child’s other parent in front of the child
- Talking bad about the child’s other parent on social media
- Lying to the court
Some parents make these mistakes with perfectly good intentions, or sometimes they are acting irrationally and vindictively.
It’s understandable to be stressed in these situations– an attorney isn’t here to judge you. What they are there for is to offer you advice on how to avoid the nastiest aspects of a custody dispute, and make sure that the outcome you get is what’s best for you and the child.
Defending your case in a trial or hearing
In most cases, if you’ve filed for custody of a child, you will need to present your case in a trial or hearing before a judge, and sometimes a jury. In this case, you will need an attorney to represent you and argue on your behalf.
While you are technically allowed to represent yourself, it’s likely that the opposing party or parties have hired an attorney, as well. Don’t leave it up to chance — when your child’s future is on the line, make sure you have the best representation you can.
Contact a child custody attorney in Slidell
At Stanley-Wallace Law, we understand how important your child’s wellbeing is to you. That’s why we make it our mission to help you through the process in any way we can. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.