As a parent facing divorce, you will have to establish a child custody arrangement. You may be concerned about losing valuable time with your child, and would like to know what your custody arrangement will look like.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to definitively know what the court will decide as your family’s final custody arrangement. Louisiana courts tailor their decision to your family’s unique circumstances and needs. You may have heard that the final decision is designed to support your child’s best interests, but what does this really mean?

Factors that impact your custody order

Divorce is difficult for all family members, children included. The court seeks to minimize disruption to your child’s life and ensure that they are supported during this turbulent time. Many factors play into the court’s custody decision, including:

  • Each parent’s ability to support the child physically and emotionally
  • Ability to maintain consistency within the child’s life
  • Proximity to the child’s existing school, extracurricular activities and extended family
  • Substance abuse or domestic abuse by either parent
  • The child’s preferences, if they are of sufficient age and mental capacity
  • Interaction between parents and their willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other

This list is not comprehensive. The judge may consider and evaluate any factors that they deem relevant to your family’s situation and your child’s well-being.

Understanding the potential outcomes

There are several types of custody. Typically, the court favors a joint custody arrangement, which involves both parents in the child’s life. However, some extenuating circumstances, such as physical abuse, may make this undesirable. In that case, the court may award one parent sole custody of the child.

When most people discuss custody, they are referring to physical custody of the child. This relates to the daily care of the child and their needs. There is another form of custody, legal custody, which allows a parent to make decisions on behalf of their child, such as education, medical or religious decisions. It is possible to hold one, both or neither types of custody.

Determining a child custody plan can be very stressful for both parents and children. Speaking with a family law attorney can be valuable to learn more about your family’s options and how the court may address your situation.