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When Can Sole Custody Be Awarded?

Louisiana, like many other states, has laws that require judges in child custody cases to consider the best interests of the children. If both parents are able to reach an agreement regarding custody on their own, judges will often approve this arrangement so long as it appears to be in the best interests of the children.

More often than not, however, Shreveport parents are unable to reach an agreement about custody on their own. When this happens, the court is charged with the responsibility to decide. There are certain situations in which a judge may award sole custody to one parent. It’s rare for a court to only award custody legally and physically to one parent, but it does happen.

The awarding of sole custody tends to happen in situations where the judge determines that one parent is unfit. Examples of factors that would lead the judge to consider a parent unfit include a history of substance addiction or abuse, evidence of child neglect or child abuse, or a history of violence towards other people.  In the event that sole custody is awarded to a parent because a parent is unfit, the judge may still give supervised visitation to the other parent. The judge has discretion to make this decision if he or she believes that it is in the best interests of the child. If supervised visitation is granted, the parent determined to be unfit will be able to visit with his or her children under the supervision of a third-party who is charged with ensuring the children are safe during their parental visitation time.

Sole custody may be awarded to one parent even if the court does not determine the other parent is unfit.  This usually happens when one parent has been absent for an extended time period, one parent has substantial work or other time commitments that prevent regular interaction with the child, or when one parent lives in Louisiana and the other parent lives in another state.    If sole custody is awarded but the other parent has not been determined to be unfit, the judge still grants visitation periods for that parent consistent with the situation.  Overall, the judges in Louisiana try to determine what is in the best interest of children.