If you are going through a divorce or separation, or if you are an unwed father in Louisiana, it is easy to feel like the court is not on your side. A lot of men feel that mothers are given special treatment when it comes to child custody cases. In the past, this may have been true. However, the courts now recognize the significant roles fathers play in the lives of their children and take that into consideration when determining custody arrangements.
How does Louisiana handle child custody?
Louisiana, like many other states, abides by the Uniform Child Custody Act. This means that it recognizes the roles of each parent and prefers to grant joint custody when appropriate. This also means that grandparents may be granted visitation rights and the wishes of the affected children may be taken into consideration as well.
What happens in contested custody cases?
If parents are unable to negotiate custody arrangements out of court, they will have to attend a custody hearing or hearings. For example, a 35-year-old father of three is divorcing his wife. He is the primary breadwinner in the home in a job that keeps him incredibly busy. However, he still takes a very active role in his kids’ lives. His wife is seeking sole custody with visitation rights for him, and he wants joint custody. Unable to come to an agreement on the matter, they go before a judge who will make a final decision.
In this case, who will get the custody agreement he or she wants? Honestly, it depends on what situation the judge believes to be in the best interests of the children.
What exactly does “the child’s best interests” mean?
The phrase “the child’s best interests” can be a tough one for parents. Each may have a different idea of what is best. In contested custody cases, a judge will have to look at a number of factors to determine what custody arrangement would be ideal. These include:
- The child-parent relationship
- Living arrangements
- Family support
- Community support
If a child is at least 11 years old, a judge may also take his or her wishes regarding with whom he or she wants to live into consideration.
On paper, yes, it would seem that fathers are treated fairly during child custody cases in Louisiana. However, it may feel differently when going through the process. If you are facing a child custody case due to divorce, separation or because you are an unwed father, legal help is available to you. An experienced family law attorney can assist you with the negotiation or — if necessary — litigation of your child custody case so that you can achieve an agreement that best fits your family’s needs.