How to Get Full Custody of a Child in Louisiana

How to Get Full Custody of a Child in Louisiana

When parents decide to separate or divorce, one of the most important decisions they must make is determining child custody arrangements. In some cases, one parent may seek full custody of the child. If you are in Louisiana and considering pursuing full custody, it is crucial to understand the legal process and requirements. This article will provide a step-by-step guide on how to get full custody of a child in Louisiana.

1. Understand the Types of Custody:
In Louisiana, there are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as education and healthcare. Physical custody, on the other hand, determines where the child will primarily reside.

2. Gather Evidence:
To support your case for full custody, it is essential to gather evidence that demonstrates your ability to provide a stable and suitable environment for the child. This may include financial records, witness statements, school records, and any evidence of neglect or abuse by the other parent.

3. File a Petition:
Begin the process by filing a petition for full custody with the appropriate family court. You will need to complete the necessary forms, pay the filing fee, and submit them to the clerk of court.

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4. Serve the Other Parent:
After filing the petition, you must serve the other parent with a copy of the petition and a summons. This can be done through a process server or a sheriff’s office. Proof of service must be filed with the court.

5. Attend Mediation:
In Louisiana, parents are required to attend mediation before going to trial. Mediation is a facilitated negotiation process that helps parents reach a mutually agreeable custody arrangement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial.

6. Prepare for Trial:
If mediation fails, you will need to prepare for a custody trial. This involves gathering evidence, preparing witnesses, and consulting with your attorney. It is crucial to present a strong case that demonstrates why full custody is in the child’s best interest.

7. Attend the Custody Trial:
During the custody trial, both parties will present their arguments and evidence to the judge. The judge will consider various factors, including the child’s age, health, and relationship with each parent. The decision will be based on what is deemed to be in the best interest of the child.

8. Follow the Court’s Order:
If the court grants you full custody, it is essential to follow the court’s order and cooperate with any visitation arrangements for the other parent. Failure to comply with court orders may result in legal consequences.

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9. Seek Legal Representation:
Navigating the legal process of obtaining full custody can be complex and emotionally challenging. It is highly recommended to seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and advocate for your rights and the best interests of your child.


1. Can grandparents seek full custody in Louisiana?
Yes, grandparents can seek full custody if they can prove that it is in the best interest of the child and that both parents are unfit or unable to care for the child adequately.

2. Can a parent lose custody for not paying child support?
While failure to pay child support can negatively impact a parent’s credibility, it does not automatically result in loss of custody. The court will consider various factors before making a decision.

3. Can a child decide who they want to live with in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, the court may consider the preferences of a child who is of suitable age and maturity. However, the final decision is ultimately based on the child’s best interest.

4. How long does the custody process take in Louisiana?
The duration of the custody process can vary depending on the complexity of the case and court availability. It can range from a few months to over a year.

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5. Can a parent with a criminal record get full custody?
A parent with a criminal record may still be granted custody if the court determines that it is in the child’s best interest. However, certain criminal offenses may significantly impact the court’s decision.

6. Can visitation be supervised in Louisiana?
Yes, the court may order supervised visitation if it is necessary to protect the child’s safety or well-being, typically due to concerns of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse.

7. Can custody orders be modified in Louisiana?
Yes, custody orders can be modified if there has been a substantial change in circumstances or if it is in the child’s best interest. However, it can be challenging to modify a custody order unless there is a significant reason to do so.

8. Can a parent move out of state with full custody?
A parent with full custody generally has the right to move out of state with the child. However, the court may impose restrictions or require the consent of the other parent if it significantly impacts visitation or the child’s well-being.

9. How can I afford an attorney for full custody?
If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for legal aid services or pro bono representation. You can contact your local legal aid organization or consult with the court clerk for resources and information.