Your Children’s Best Interests

Your family is in a transitional period that will determine how your children will grow up. You and your co-parent may not see eye to eye in your relationship, whether you’re getting a divorce or never married, but we can all agree that your children deserve a happy future. That’s why you need the right lawyer to serve as mediator and advocate for your children and for your role as their parent.


How We Can Help

Sometimes both parents can agree to a plan that works for both, and sometimes the court must intervene. In most cases, it is better for the parents to decide these arrangements amongst themselves, with a mediator or attorney. In all cases, we will stand by your side and provide diligent representation tailored to your family’s unique needs. We help our clients obtain the parenting plan or support agreement that is the most effective resolution for their family.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few commonly asked questions to help you familiarize with child support and custody law in Louisiana. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for further questions.

 

How Do You Obtain Child Support?

A: Child support is not automatic; a suit must be filed against the other parent for a child support obligation to be set against them.  Once a suit is filed, the child support will start to accrue from that date.

In Louisiana, child support is determined by the child support guidelines.  The court will combine the income of both parents, and compare that amount to the number of minor children the parties have together.  That number acquired by the guidelines is an estimate of what the state believes is spent per month based on the number of children. Each party shall then determine, by percentage, his or her proportionate share of the combined amount, and that is what percent each parent will pay of the guideline amount.

That final number can fluctuate depending on a multitude of factors the court may consider.

Such factors include, but are not limited to the following: the income of both parties; the amount of time each parent exercises physical custody of the minor child; whether a party's employment offers health care benefits to the minor child; and whether a party is already ordered to pay another child support obligation.

 

Can You Modify Your Current Child Support Obligation?

A: A child support order will be determined based on the current income of both parties. So, if your income decreases, or if the other party's income increases, you may be able to recalculate the child support obligation if there is a 25% change.  An award of child support may be modified if the circumstances of the child or of either parent materially change.

Either party can ask the court to modify the child support obligation to either increase or decrease the amount owed, when there has been a change in circumstances to warrant a modification.

 

What Is An Income Assignment Order?

A: When child support is issued, the party to which it is owed can ask for an income assignment order to be issued. This is an order from the court directed to the payor’s employer to take what is owed out of each of the payor’s paycheck to be delivered directly to the payee. This alleviates the need to worry about having to pay, or getting paid, each month.  It happens automatically.

 

How Is Custody Established?

A: The following Code article explains how the Court will establish custodial time between two parties:

Art. 132.  Award of custody to parents

If the parents agree who is to have custody, the court shall award custody in accordance with their agreement unless the best interest of the child requires a different award.

In the absence of agreement, or if the agreement is not in the best interest of the child, the court shall award custody to the parents jointly; however, if custody in one parent is shown by clear and convincing evidence to serve the best interest of the child, the court shall award custody to that parent.

If the parties can agree to a custodial plan, a stipulated judgment can be filed with the Court without having to step foot in a courtroom.

If the parties cannot agree on a custodial plan, the Court must award joint custody, unless one party is clearly not a suitable caretaker.

Joint custody can be exercised in a variety of ways.  Most commonly is when one parent is declared the domiciliary parent, and the other parent is given reasonable custodial time (e.g. every other weekend).

Another way to exercise joint custody is by a shared custodial arrangement.  This gives both parents equal 50/50 time with the minor child(ren). Shared custody can also be exercised in a variety of ways.  Most commonly is either on a week to week basis, or a 2/2/3 schedule (mom has two days, dad has two days, and the parties alternate each Friday through Sunday).

When determining how joint custody is to be implemented, the Judge must consider the best interest of the child.

 

What Does Domiciliary Parent Mean?

A: Being declared domiciliary parent gives you the right to make any health or educational decisions with regard to your child. Having joint custody requires cooperation from both parents, but in the event the two of you disagree, the domiciliary parent will prevail. The domiciliary parent is the one who the child(ren) primarily reside with.

 

Can I Relocate To Another State With My Child?

A: If there is a custody order put in place, the parent seeking to relocate must first send a certified letter to the other parent. This letter includes a list of information needed to put the other parent on notice. If the other parent objects within 30 days, you must go to Court and have a trial to determine whether it is in your child’s best interest to be taken out the state.