Under Louisiana custody laws, there is a presumption that joint custody of parents is in the child’s best interest. However, this presumption is rebuttable and family courts can instead award sole custody to one parent.
In other cases, courts grant neither parent custody. Putting a child under the care of a nonparent may seem extreme. However, some situations justify this decision.
Circumstances that destroy the presumption
Generally, parents want to care for their children regardless of the situation. Unfortunately, some parents are unwilling or unable to adequately care for them physically, emotionally or financially. In other instances, some parents want custody over their children but have a history of violence, neglect or substance abuse.
These circumstances will likely result in substantial harm to the child if the court awards custody to these parents. Hence, evidence pointing to the existence of these circumstances destroys the presumption of joint custody.
Who can the court assign instead?
If the court finds that awarding custody to either parent would cause substantial harm to the child and their well-being, it can award custody to any of the following persons:
- A relative, such as a grandparent, uncle or aunt, who has been living with the child in a wholesome and stable environment
- Another person who may be nonrelated but can provide an adequate and stable living environment for the child
When multiple options are available, the court will give preference to the child’s relative.
Raising the issue of whether the child’s parents are suitable
While we want parents to continue establishing a relationship with their children despite a divorce or separation, there are situations that we cannot just brush off.
If you think that a child you care for, under the available circumstances, cannot be placed in either parent’s custody, you should raise the issue in court. Of course, you have to sufficiently prepare your arguments and evidence beforehand. Working with a competent legal professional can help you establish your case.