Louisiana Grandparent Visitation and Custody Considerations:
If your grandchildren live with you already or you have concerns about their home life, you may want to seek legal custody or visitation. Louisiana allows grandparents to take this step in certain situations. Review the factors that affect grandparent visitation and custody before moving forward with this process.
Circumstances Warranting Grandparent Visitation:
One can petition a Louisiana court in the parish where your grandchild lives for legal visitation if:
- Your grandchild’s parents have divorced or lived apart for at least six months;
- One or both of your grandchild’s parents has died, gone to prison, or cannot care for the child because of substance use disorder;
- Your grandchild is in the foster care system; or
- The court has declared one or both parents legally incompetent to care for your grandchild.
In addition to proving one of these factors, you must show the court that a relationship with you serves the child’s best interests. Please refer to the following:
La. Civ. Code art. 136. Award of visitation rights
A. Subject to R.S. 9:341 and 364, a parent not granted custody or joint custody of a child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would not be in the best interest of the child.
B. In addition to the parents referred to in Paragraph A of this Article, the following persons may be granted visitation if the parents of the child are not married or cohabitating with a person in the manner of married persons or if the parents of the child have filed a petition for divorce:
(1) A grandparent if the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child.
(2) Under extraordinary circumstances, any other relative, by blood or affinity, or a former stepparent or stepgrandparent if the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child. Extraordinary circumstances shall include a determination by a court that a parent is abusing a controlled dangerous substance.
C. Before making any determination under Subparagraph (B)(1) or (2) of this Article, the court shall hold a contradictory hearing as provided by R.S. 9:345 in order to determine whether the court should appoint an attorney to represent the child.
D. In determining the best interest of the child under Subparagraph (B)(1) or (2) of this Article, the court shall consider only the following factors:
(1) A parent’s fundamental constitutional right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their own children and the traditional presumption that a fit parent will act in the best interest of their children.
(2) The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the relative.
(3) Whether the child is in need of guidance, enlightenment, or tutelage which can best be provided by the relative.
(4) The preference of the child if he is determined to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference.
(5) The mental and physical health of the child and the relative.
E. If the parents of a child are married and have not filed for divorce or they are living in concubinage, the provisions of R.S. 9:344 shall apply.
Factors Affecting Grandparent Custody:
Alternatively, you can petition the court for custody of your grandchild if you believe the child would come to harm in the custody of his or her parents. Typically, this occurs only in cases involving abuse or neglect. As to this, the below provision of law controls:
La. Civ. Code art. 133. Award of custody to person other than a parent; order of preference
If an award of joint custody or of sole custody to either parent would result in substantial harm to the child, the court shall award custody to another person with whom the child has been living in a wholesome and stable environment, or otherwise to any other person able to provide an adequate and stable environment.
If the state removes your grandchild from parental custody, you can ask the court for placement. Louisiana usually places children with relatives rather than in the foster care system, if possible.
In other cases, your grandchild may already live with you. In this situation, asking the parents to sign a Voluntary Transfer of Custody will give you legal custody. They can also agree to sign a temporary Provisional Custody by Mandate, which allows you to enroll the child in school and seek medical care for him or her.
Louisiana Grandparent Visitation Attorneys:
We are a Gretna law firm that has served the New Orleans area since 1980. Our skilled family law attorneys will be able to answer any Louisiana grandparent visitation or custody questions and can guide you through this difficult need. We take pride in offering a personal and trusted experience. Call us today for a free consultation and find out why so many of our clients come back to us.