Louisiana Family Law Child Custody Lawyers
Experienced Louisiana Family Lawyers Fighting for Your Rights as a Parent or Grandparent
Mansfield Melancon’s family law attorneys always strive to get the best outcome possible for our clients fighting for their rights to have custody of their children or grandchildren. If you and your child’s other parent are splitting up, you’ll have to make certain key decisions regarding child custody, visitation, child support and how your child is raised. Louisiana law allows, and encourages, parents to make these decisions together and with the guidance of their Louisiana child custody lawyers. However, the district court or family court will have final approval on the child custody agreement, including the visitation schedule, and child support agreement.
Louisiana Child Custody Laws
There are two forms of child custody in Louisiana: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to where the child spends the majority of his or her time. Parents may have joint physical custody, meaning the child lives with each parent part of the time, or one parent may have sole custody, meaning the child lives with one parent and has visitation with the other parent.
Legal custody refers to the major life decisions that affect a child. Where does the child attend school? What religion does the child practice? How is the child raised? Like physical custody, legal custody can be jointly shared by both parents or can be the sole responsibility of one parent.
It is always encouraged for the parents to try to reach a mutually agreeable child custody arrangement. This shows a willingness of the parents to work together and indicates that the parents are more likely to be able to work through future parenting issues. Even if you’re able to reach a child custody arrangement, the arrangement still has to be approved by the judge responsible for your case. The child custody lawyers at Mansfield Melancon are well versed when it comes to custody arrangements and can advise you on certain issues that both parties may not have thought of when drafting their custody arrangement. The judge will try to determine the best interests of the child when reviewing an agreed upon custody arrangement or when deciding what form of custody is best for the child. The factors the court will use when determining the best interests of the child include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Relationship between the child and the parents
- Which parent has historically taken care of the child
- Parent’s ability to provide for and give guidance
- Parent’s ability to encourage a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
- Parent’s moral, mental, and physical health
- Child’s wishes if they are sufficient age
Louisiana Child Support Lawyers
Parents will also need to reach a child support arrangement, or a court will make a child support ruling on your behalf. A child support lawyer at Mansfield Melancon can help you in determining and negotiating the appropriate amount of support each party is obligated to pay.
In determining child support, the courts expect both parents to contribute to the financial expenses related to raising a child. In making a Louisiana child support ruling, a judge is expected to consider:
- Each parent’s monthly income
- How much time the child spends with each parent
- How many children are in the family
- Whether the non-custodial parent is paying alimony or child support for another child
- Child care costs
- The cost of health insurance for the child
- Whether the child has any extraordinary expenses (such as medical costs or school tuition)
If a parent fails to pay child support, contact a family law attorney at Mansfield Melancon immediately to help collect the money you’re owed.
Emergency custody is also referred to as ex parte custody. When a child is in “immediate danger of irreparable harm”, an ex parte motion, or one party only motion, may be filed on your behalf. By doing this, you are essentially indicating to the court that the current situation your child is in with your spouse is harmful to the child, and you are asking that the court allow you to intervene. Examples of when you may file an ex parte motion may include:
- Your spouse is using drugs or alcohol in the presence of your child
- Your child is spending time around a convicted felon
- Your spouse is keeping your child home from school excessively
- Your spouse is abusing your child.
An ex parte motion should be taken very seriously and should not be abused with frivolous claims in an attempt to get custody of your child. You should consult with a child custody attorney at Mansfield Melancon and discuss whether or not you have the basis for an ex parte motion. Any ex parte order granted will expire after thirty days, but can be extended one time before its expiration for fifteen days so long as good cause is shown.
Custody to a Non-Parent or Grandparent
Occasionally, a court may award custody to a person other than a parent if awarding joint custody, or sole custody to either parent, would result in substantial harm to the child. The non-parent would need to demonstrate to the court that they are able to provide a stable and wholesome environment for the child. In some circumstances, grandparents can be granted reasonable visitation with their grandchild. Contact a family law attorney at Mansfield Melancon to discuss whether or not you are eligible for custody or visitation of your loved one.
When Should I call a Lawyer?
If you are in need of reliable legal advice on how to proceed through a child custody dispute, contact a family law attorney at Mansfield Melancon immediately to make sure your rights and interests are being protected. It is important that your rights and the rights of your child are protected during a child custody dispute. It is equally important to have a team of skilled lawyers who will provide the personalized attention your case requires and deserves. You can reach us at our New Orleans number at 504-500-1108, Baton Rouge number at 225-612-0800, Lafayette number at 337-409-0003, or you can contact us online. You can also send us an email with questions about your claim at firstname.lastname@example.org.