Child Custody after a Divorce

Jan 8


Will Beaumont

Will Beaumont

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When making a custody ruling, courts in Louisiana look to what is in the best interests of the children. This article seeks to explain an example of how this might work.


In Louisiana,Child Custody after a Divorce Articles family courts turn to the Louisiana Civil Code when determining questions of child custody.  Specifically, they often look to Article 134.  This article lays out a variety of different factors for a court to evaluate in the context of a particular custody dispute following a divorce.  The subject of this essay is factor number (5), which states that a court should look at “the permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.”

The spirit of this factor is in keeping with much of Louisiana family law; namely, that the family is an important social unit which should be preserved at all possible costs.  Generally, a Louisiana family court will place a child where there is a more stable family life than where there is not.

For example, let’s say we have two parents: Dave and Cindy.  Dave and Cindy have one child, Tyler.  Five years after Tyler is born, Dave and Cindy get a divorce.  Subsequently, they end up in a custody battle over the child.  Both feel that they would be the best custodial parent. 

However, following the divorce Dave and Cindy have led very different lives.  Dave already has a new girlfriend.  He also has two children from a previous marriage, who Tyler has grown up with.  Dave, his other two children, and his girlfriend (who Dave just proposed to), and a dog named Scruffy all live together in a big house in a very nice neighborhood.  It is the same neighborhood Tyler has lived his whole life, and he was supposed to start kindergarten there this year.

Cindy on the other hand is living a very different lifestyle.  She is significantly younger than Dave is, and since their divorce she has let out her wild side.  She lives in a one bedroom apartment in the city.  She does not see herself getting married again for a long time.  In fact, she is considering taking a job offer that she just got which will send her across the country. 

In the above two living situations, it is probably easy to tell which parent can provide Tyler with a more “permanent” and “family-like” home.  That is not to say that Cindy has no chance at being named the custodial parent.  But in a court analysis done under factor (5) of Article 134, her chances are not very good.  Clearly, her commitment to a permanent home life is not one of her top priorities at this time.  A court might interpret that to mean that Tyler would be a better fit at Dave’s house.

Many times these situations are not as lopsided as the above example.  It is probably more likely that the parents can offer substantially similar custodial homes for the child after divorce.  That’s why the family courts in Louisiana don’t need to consider every factor under Article 134.  If the two parents are relatively even in one category, then the courts will look to other factors in determining the custodial arrangement.
This article is written with the sole intention of providing information.  It is not legal advice.  Will Beaumont practices law in Metairie and New Orleans.