Law Office of Laura L. Davenport
Lafayette Divorce And Family Law Attorney

Why does how and where you live affect custody decisions?

Despite the fact that gender roles within families continue to change, the perception of the mother keeping the family home with the children and the father living in a small, dark and dingy apartment seem to persist.

You may be facing paying child support and/or alimony, so your choice of place to live may be from a place of panic that you won't have enough to live on after the finalization of the divorce. The problem with that is that when you ask for either sole or joint custody, the court will scrutinize your choice of abode.

What does the court look at when it comes to your living arrangements?

When a Louisiana judge considers custody requests, he or she will look at the following when it comes to your living accommodations:

  • Where will your children sleep? Depending on the number of children, their ages and their genders, the court may require you to have a certain minimum number of bedrooms or distinct sleeping areas.
  • How much space will your children have in your home? Obviously, the younger the child, the less space he or she may need, but older children often require more space.
  • Your age and finances play a role in many aspects of child custody, but they also matter when it comes to where you live. For example, the court will not expect you to live in an expensive house if your budget doesn't support it, but it may require you to live in a safer neighborhood for the sake of your children.
  • Is your child mentally able to adjust to a smaller space? Drastic changes in environment can have adverse effects on children, so the judge considers this.
  • Safety is a big issue when it comes to assessing your living situation. The court's mandate is to protect the best interests of your children, and letting them live in an unsafe neighborhood would violate that duty.

It may take more work, but fathers have the same opportunities to seek custody as mothers do according to the law. However, in reality, courts still tend to believe that mothers should serve as the primary custodian. This antiquated notion may be changing, but probably not fast enough for many fathers seeking sole or joint custody of their children. For this reason, it is crucial that you put your best foot forward, and this includes making sure that your living situation easily accommodates your children and their needs.

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