There are currently 13.4 million custodial single parents living in the U.S. Out of these, 89.8% of the have a formal custody agreement made in court.
But how was this agreement reached? Did the child have any say in the matter?
Read on to learn about Louisiana child custody laws and how they relate to a child’s preference on which parent to live with.
Louisiana Child Custody Laws
In Louisiana family law cases, child custody will be generally granted to both parents. That is the State’s preference because a relationship with both parents is typically best for a child.
Louisiana child custody laws suggest that both parents may come up with their own joint custody agreement. Then, they can submit that agreement to the court. Usually, the court will approve all custody agreements that are reasonable.
If parents are unable to agree on custody, the court will decide on custody based on what is best for the child.
What About A Child’s Preference?
Each Louisiana judge decides whether a child is old enough to have his or her preference considered. There is no pre-determined age in Louisiana where a child’s preference is considered.
Usually, judges will consider the opinion of children 12 years and older. That doesn’t mean that a judge will rule based on a child’s preference.
Judges are interested in understanding why a child has a certain preference. If one parent has less strict rules about teeth brushing and eating vegetables, a child may say he or she prefers to live with the other parent.
The court won’t give this preference much weight.
Louisiana courts care more about the relationship a child has with each parent and their level of involvement in the child’s life.
Does a Child Need to Testify in Court?
Typically no. Louisiana court judges don’t ask a child to testify in court.
Instead, the judge asks parents to consent for the child to have an in-chambers interview with the judge. The parents are not admitted into this interview. Yet their lawyers may be present.
The court reporter is also present. He or she records the interview so that the interview can have bearing on the ruling.
Sometimes, Louisiana judges will request that a mental health professional evaluate the child. In these cases, the mental health professional will prepare a report for the court.
The report will outline the child’s preference as well as other relevant information.
As you can see, Louisiana child custody laws are in place to ensure the child’s best interest. A child’s preference is considered if the child is mature enough to have a substantial opinion.
Ultimately, the judge will look at all the factors and award custody based on what will be best for the child overall.