Louisiana judges must make custody decisions based on the best interests of children. Louisiana statute outlines several factors that play a role in the judge’s decision.
Which factors do judges consider when determining custody?
Factors that determine a child’s best interest
Louisiana statute requires judges to consider all relevant factors when they determine what a child’s best interests are. The statute outlines 14 specific factors:
- Potential for abuse
- Emotional ties between the child and the parent or guardian
- Ability and desire of each party to provide the child with affection, love and spiritual guidance
- Ability and desire to provide the child with material needs such as clothing, food and medical care
- Stability of the living environment
- The permanence of the custodial home
- The moral fitness of each party
- History of substance abuse, criminal activity or violence
- Mental and physical health of each party
- History of the child
- Preference of the child, if the court deems the child old enough
- Ability and desire of each party to facilitate a continuing relationship between the child and the other party, unless evidence of reckless, abusive or illegal conduct exists
- How far apart the parties’ residences are
- How responsible each party has been in caring for the child in the past
Exceptions to these factors
This statute may not apply in cases where there is a history of family violence or domestic abuse. In these cases, judges must award custody or visitation according to R.S. 9:341 and 364.
In most cases, judges seek to implement some form of joint custody. However, judges may elect to award sole custody if a joint arrangement is not in the best interest of the child.