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Can I name a custodian for my child in my will?

Many single parents across Louisiana and the rest of the country worry about who will take care of their children if they were to pass away suddenly. This true particularly for those who do not have a good relationship with the child’s other parent or the other parent is absent entirely. While you can certainly state why you believe a nonparent should be awarded legal custody of your children in the event of your death, it does not guarantee that the other parent will not.

The family courts nearly always prefer that children are raised by their parents. It takes a significant burden of proof to convince the courts that the children are better off being raised by a nonparent. In the state of Louisiana, the nonparent seeking custody must show that the children would benefit from being raised in his or her care, but he or she must also show that the child being raised by the surviving parent would pose a substantial threat to the child’s well-being.

In general, nonparents are awarded custody in these situations where the other parent has a violent criminal history, past incidents of abuse or family violence or has a substance abuse problem. However, in the case of a parent who has been absent for most of the child’s life and has not sought a relationship with the children, there may also be a chance for a nonparent to be awarded custody.

The best course of action to take may be to put in the will who you would like to be the guardian of your children and why. It’s important to be as detailed as possible so that the nonparent can use the will as support for seeking custody.

Source: KPLC, “Legal Corner: Can custody of children be included in a will?,” Erik Tyger, June 22, 2016

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