Child Custody

New Orleans Child Custody Lawyers

Fighting for the best interest of your children in New Orleans, Slidell, and throughout Louisiana

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Divorce is hard, and it gets harder when there are kids involved. It’s rough on children when they lose confidence in the one relationship they knew they could trust. That’s why the courts try to do everything possible to protect the children. Every family law Judge in Louisiana will make child custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child, not the adults.

At the Law Office of James A. Graham, we understand that when a relationship ends, the children are the top priority. Our child custody attorneys in New Orleans and Slidell offer the legal guidance you need relating to your child’s future. We will work with you to ease your worries and assist in developing an effective, carefully laid out strategy that benefits both you and your children. We will work with you to give you the assistance you need to look to the future and protect you and your child’s best interests. Call us today to get started.

What are the different types of child custody orders in Louisiana?

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Before beginning the process of deciding child custody, it is important to understand the custody terminology and concepts in Louisiana. We have outlined them below:

  • Sole Custody: This refers to one parent having full custody over the child and having the right to make all educational and medical decisions, without the input or advice of the other parent. The other parent may or may not be allowed visitation, and this visitation may or may not be supervised.
  • Visitation: In sole custody cases, the parents also must decide on visitation rights that allow the non-custodial parent to take custody of the child for specific, regularly scheduled periods of time. Parents can negotiate the visitation plan themselves, or the court can develop one.
  • Joint Custody: This refers to one parent having physical custody of the child most of the time, while the other parent may get the child a few nights per week or on weekends. The parent with primary custody is also known as the domiciliary parent. The primary custodial parent talks with the other parent regarding educational and medical decisions, however, the domiciliary parent’s opinion is usually the final decision, without court intervention.
  • Shared Custody: This refers to both parents having an equal amount of physical custody of the child, usually one week with each, but not necessarily so. In shared custody, there is commonly no primary domiciliary parent.
Child Custody

What is the role of the Judge in New Orleans child custody disputes?

Family law Judges care about where your child lives, who will be responsible for his/her needs, who will educate the child, how the child will be disciplined, your child’s religious upbringing, and many other issues.

Normally, Judges will defer as much as possible to the parents. The best custody agreements are when the parents agree. When necessary, a Judge will enter a final and clear child custody order.

What factors determine child custody decisions in New Orleans?

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Family courts and parents will almost always take the best interest of the child into account when determining the custody and visitation plans during the divorce process, usually after the first hearing. The courts, and parents to an extent, consider each parent’s history and finances, and relationships with the children, as well as the children’s mental, physical, and emotional needs. Often the courts consider keeping a consistent lifestyle important when making these decisions. Stability for the children is a key factor.

Louisiana generally provides that a parental agreement regarding custody will be binding – unless the best interest of the child requires a different award. If an agreement cannot be reached, the family law Judge will award joint custody. Under the law, “however, if custody in one parent is shown by clear and convincing evidence to serve the best interest of the child, the court shall award custody to that parent.”

If an agreement cannot be reached, there will be a court hearing. The Judge can close the hearing to the public. The Judge will consider the following factors when making his/her custody decision:

(1) The potential for the child to be abused, as defined by Children's Code Article 603, which shall be the primary consideration.

(2) The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.

(3) The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child.

(4) The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.

(5) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment.

(6) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.

(7) The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.

(8) The history of substance abuse, violence, or criminal activity of any party.

(9) The mental and physical health of each party. Evidence that an abused parent suffers from the effects of past abuse by the other parent shall not be grounds for denying that parent custody.

(10) The home, school, and community history of the child.

(11) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.

(12) The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party, except when objectively substantial evidence of specific abusive, reckless, or illegal conduct has caused one party to have reasonable concerns for the child's safety or well-being while in the care of the other party.

(13) The distance between the respective residences of the parties.

(14) The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.

The Judge will use other factors to determine custody or visitation if there is a history of domestic violence, domestic abuse, or civil abuse.

How can a New Orleans child custody lawyer help?

We review each factor that the Judge will consider to show why you are the caring, loving responsible choice for raising your child. We work with mediators and collaborative divorce professionals to negotiate child custody agreements that protect you and your child. Our lawyers negotiate agreements that establish the clear parameters for where your child will spend each night, what responsibilities each parent has, how you can communicate with your child when your child is with the other parent, how changes in plans and disputes can be handled without having to go back into court, and many other legal and practical issues.

We prepare agreements that last during your child’s pre-adult years. We work to negotiate agreements that your spouse will also honor so that your children can have the best lives possible.

Child Custody Attorneys

Do you have a child custody lawyer near me?

The Law Office of James A. Graham has two office locations in South Louisiana:

For clients who are unable to travel, phone and video conferences are an option.

Talk with an experienced New Orleans child custody attorney today

At the Law Office of James A. Graham, we understand how important it is to obtain child custody agreements and ensure that ensure your child’s happiness, education, financial needs, emotional support, guidance, and love continue so your child can mature and flourish. You can trust that our New Orleans child custody attorneys will take every measure required to protect your child’s future. To schedule an appointment, please call or fill out our contact form to talk with a respected divorce lawyer in New Orleans or Slidell.