Eric S. Neumann, APLC
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What are grandparents' custody rights in Louisiana?

Grandparents may seek child custody in limited circumstances in Louisiana. Grandparents may intervene in a court case and seek custody after the parents filed for divorce. They must prove that the parents' custody will substantially harm the child. This is a heavy burden and the parents could still maintain custody even though the child would be better if the grandchildren had custody. Typically, the judge must find that the parents are abusing or neglecting the child to award the grandparents custody.

Grandparents may also file for a protective order on their grandchildren's behalf and seek temporary custody of their grandchildren if there is parental abuse. The judge can grant a temporary and immediate custody order and schedule a hearing within 30 days. If the grandparents prove that the child is being abused, the judge may order custody for a six to 18-month period.

If the state obtained custody because of the parent's abuse or neglect, grandparents may seek legal custody of their grandchild. If the parents agree that the grandparents should assume legal custody, they may execute a voluntary transfer of custody, which must be approved by a judge. Custody can be temporary or permanent. The child's parents will need to receive court approval if they seek restoration of their custody rights.

A provisional custody by mandate is a power of attorney that allows a grandparent to care for their grandchild, but does not transfer custody to them. Judicial approval is not necessary. It must be renewed every year. Parents can withdraw it at any time. With this document, grandparents may enroll their grandchild in school or obtain health care for them, among other things. Individual parishes, however, may require grandparents to assume custody before enrolling their grandchildren.

Doctors and schools may also provide services for the grandchild without their parents' consent if they execute an affidavit affirming that the child lives with their grandparents. They grandparents must also show that they made reasonable efforts to contact the parents that were unsuccessful.

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