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What happens if your child custody case goes before a judge?

One of the most difficult parts of divorcing for a couple is determining who will get custody of the children and how much the non-custodial parent will be able to spend time with them. As in most states, Louisiana has a Uniform Child Custody Act that allows joint custody for parents.

Of course, it's always best when spouses can work out a custody agreement on their own when they divorce. However, that is not always the case.

When a judge has to hold a custody hearing to make that decision, the children's best interests are the primary consideration. This includes their safety and well-being, their relationship with siblings and how they can best maintain continuing in their life, community and education. If children are old enough (usually by age 11), judges get their input on where they'd like to live. Courts may also rule on the visitation rights of grandparents.

Judges who are asked to determine child custody arrangements look at which parent can better provide a child with a stable, loving environment. They look at who can best meet the day-to-day educational, developmental, and emotional needs of the child, as well as any special needs the child may have. Of course, they also determine whether either parent has a criminal history, including domestic violence or alcohol or drug abuse.

If you and your estranged spouse are not able to work out a child custody agreement on your own and the matter needs to be settled by the court, it is essential that you have an experienced Louisiana family law attorney representing you. He or she can help ensure that whether you are fighting for primary or joint custody, your case for why your presence in your child's life is in his or her best interests is presented clearly and assertively to the judge.

Source: FindLaw, "Louisiana Child Custody Laws" Dec. 09, 2014

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