If you ask any family law judge in Louisiana what their responsibility is when deciding a heated custody dispute, they'll tell you that it's to make a decision that's in the child's best interests. Before deciding what's ideal for them, they'll often consider their gender, age, family relationships, school affiliations and even sometimes their own wishes. A judge will want to know about a mom's or dad's fitness to be a parent as well.
Before making a decision about custody, the judge may inquire about a mom's or dad's past problems with substance or alcohol abuse, domestic violence or other criminal offenses that they've been convicted of.
If you have a history of being physically or emotionally abusive or using excessive discipline, then a judge may not consider it in your child's best interest to be placed in your care.
A judge may want to see proof of your sobriety if you've previously had a dependency on alcohol or drugs before making a decision.
They may ask for you to demonstrate that the home environment that you'll raise your child in is otherwise a stable one as well.
While a conviction on your record may not directly affect custody decisions, it may indirectly do so. A judge, for example, may be hesitant to award a parent with previous driving under the influence (DUI) convictions custody because they consider it to be unsafe for the child to ride in the car with them.
They may find that a parent on probation or parole is subject to too many restrictive conditions that they can't adequately tend to the needs of their child or provide a stable living environment.
A judge may also find that a parent who has previously engaged in domestic abuse, even if not directed at the child, may not be in a position to make sound judgments enough to care for them.
Judges are more willing to award custody in cases in which a conviction is older or offenses are more minor in nature. Parents in Lafayette or Covington who are concerned about how their criminal past may impact child custody negotiations may find it helpful to seek out the advice of a family law attorney who can advise them of strategies for resolving disputes and preserving families.