Courts in Louisiana no longer automatically presume that a mother should have custody over the couple's children after divorce or the end of their relationship. Judges must consider several matters while deciding how to award child custody.
Legal custody rights allow a parent to make decisions over the child's education, moral upbringing and health care. Custody is usually shared between both parents. However, courts must determine what constitutes the bests interest of the child when reaching this decision. This includes consideration of the child's age and gender, the parents' ability to provide a good and loving environment, a parent's ability to meet the child's essential needs, existing emotional ties between the parents and the child, whether custody will affect the child's feelings of home and security, if the child is old enough to make decisions and both parents' age, character and mental and physical health. Child abuse or neglect also play an important role.