In the divorce proceeding or thereafter, either spouse may request a determination of custody, visitation, child support, spousal support and property rights.
Custody is often the most crucial and emotionally charged issue during or after the divorce. Professional mental health counseling may be beneficial to both the children and parents in learning how to cope with this life crisis.
While “joint custody” is presumed to be in the best interest of the children, this legal presumption can be rebutted by either parent proving that sole custody is in the children’s best interest (Louisiana Civil Code Articles 131 and 134).
The court shall consider, among other factors, the following in determining custody:
* relationship between parents and child;
* age and gender of the child;
* parent’s ability to give guidance;
* parent’s ability to encourage a continuing relationship between the child and other parent; and
* parent’s moral fitness and the mental and physical health of the parties.
The single most important test should always be what is in the children’s best interest.
Subsequent changes in custody may be obtained but, minimally, there must be a showing of a material change in circumstances.
A child’s wishes may be considered if the child is of sufficient age, intelligence and maturity to make such a statement of preference.