Relocating & Child Custody in Louisiana
By Demetrius Sewell
Updated December 27, 2018
Child custody agreements, typically negotiated by parents or a family court judge, provide details about what happens to minor children. For example, a judge may order children live with one parent for a specific period. However, when one parent wants to relocate to another city or state, he must abide by child custody laws. Some states, like Pennsylvania, don’t require a modification in a custody agreement. Louisiana, however, has different child custody laws regarding relocation.
Types of Child Custody
Under Louisiana law, parents can receive four types of child custody: legal, physical, sole or joint custody. Legal custody involves having a parent having the right to make decisions concerning how her children are raised. Physical custody gives parents the responsibility of raising her children. Joint and legal custody outlines the amount of custody parents have. For example, if you have sole custody, then you have primary physical custody of your child. Thus, the child lives with you, but visits the other parent. Joint custody entails both parents sharing physical custody or making decisions about rearing children.
Louisiana doesn’t allow parents to move out of the city or state with the children without receiving consent from either the other parent or court. When the domiciliary parent wants to move more than 150 miles away from the other parent’s residence, he must notify the other parent. The notification can be done verbally or in writing. The domiciliary parent must, however, give the other parent ample notice about the relocation. The state provides the other parent with two options: agree to or contest the relocation. If the other parent agrees, she must give the domiciliary parent written consent. When the other parent contests the relocation, a Louisiana family court judge decides.
A family court judge uses the 12 factors outlined in Louisiana child custody laws to decide on the proposed relocation. In the relocation law, the state wants a judge to consider the child’s age, relationship with the nonrelocating parent, child’s preference and best interest. The judge examines the conduct of the parent wanting to relocate to see if she’s trying to hinder or promote a relationship between the child and nonrelocating parent. Also, the judge considers the need for the parent’s relocation, such as economic circumstances and employment. Another factor is the reason why the parents seek and oppose the relocation and if there’s a history of abuse. Louisiana examines the nonrelocating parent’s intentions, too. A judge must consider if the nonrelocating parent has the financial means to relocate, and if he’s caught up on financial obligations like child support.
Modifying a child custody agreement isn’t automatic when a parent wants to relocate. Instead, Louisiana child custody law considers relocation a major factor when deciding if sufficient changes warrant a modification in the custody agreement. A judge can’t consider whether the parent relocates without the child, if denied.
Demetrius Sewell is an experienced journalist who, since 2008, has been a contributing writer to such websites as Internet Brands and print publications such as "Cinci Pulse." Sewell specializes in writing news and feature articles on health, law and finance. She has a master's degree in English.