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What is the 'best interests of the child' standard?

When a marriage breaks down and a couple heads for a divorce, the first thing they think about if they have children is custody. Generally, all parents want what is best for their children, but they may disagree as to how to attain that. This is why they may not be able to come to a joint agreement about child custody. If they agree to the terms, the court will generally honor that agreement; however, when they do not come to an agreement, the court must intervene.

In Louisiana, the Louisiana Civil Code governs the matter. Judges must apply the standard of best interests of the child. As per the law, the court can consider all factors it deems relevant to determine the best interests. Some factors are outlined, but the court is not limited to them.

Some of the factors the court will consider include the emotional ties and love between the child and the parent and the parent's capacity to return the emotions, the family unit's permanence, moral, physical and mental fitness of the parent and the child's school, home and community history. If the child is old enough, the court will also consider their reasonable preference.

Child custody decisions are difficult ones to make, and when the court is making the decision, parents may find the uncertainty frustrating. It may help to be prepared by making a strong argument in favor of one's position, and an experienced attorney may be able to help Louisiana residents accomplish that.

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