Child custody is one of the most important issues couples work through in divorce, and it is an area where hard feelings can easily come into play. Parents typically want to ensure they have an ongoing relationship with their children after divorce, and may want to limit their children’s exposure to the bad influence of their spouse, or they may simply not want to continue working with the spouse to raise the children.
For some couples, of course, child custody proceedings don’t present serious issues and couples are able to come up with a mutually acceptable parenting plan relatively easily. In cases where differences can’t be resolved, though, the court has to get involved and make a determination. This can be difficult for parents, because the primary concern in child custody determinations is not the desires of the individual parents, but what is in the best interests of the child.
Louisiana law provides that judges are to weigh “all relevant factors” when making best interests determinations. Ensuring a well-considered decision requires consideration of factors related to the parents, the child, and their needs, limitations, relationships and circumstances. Child custody arrangements which best promote the health, education, safety, welfare, and overall flourishing of the child are going to be given preference.
It certainly isn’t the case that the wishes of the parents hold no weight in child custody decisions, but that the court will always consider the wishes of the parents through the lens of the child’s well-being. If there is a positive bond and relationship between a parent and child, the court has to take that into account if it aims to make a decision in the best interests of the child.
For parents, it is critical to work with an experienced attorney to have the strongest possible representation in child custody proceedings. A skilled attorney will know how ensure that all relevant factors are taken into consideration and that proper perspective is given to each factor.