How does Grandparents’ child custody work in Louisiana?

If you are a grandparent concerned about your minor grandchild, you should understand Louisiana’s visitation and custody process.

Often when parents are unable to care for a minor child, the contact with the child’s grandparents is limited. However, in Louisiana, grandparents can request legal custody or visitation only under specific circumstances.

List of Non-Custodial Parents Rights and Responsibilities

  • The central test for awarding visitation rights is what is in “the best interest of the child.”
  • All non-custodial parents are entitled to access and visitation with their minor children. There is an exception if THERE IS AN ALLEGATION OF ABUSE.
  • Non-custodial parents with a history of family violence or physical abuse toward the child are denied visitation privileges and if allowed by the courts, are only under supervised visitation.
  • All-access, visitation, and contact between a parent and child are prohibited if that parent has been found guilty of sexual abuse.
  • The Access and Visitation Program will neither modify nor enforce a current or past visitation order. The Program will not accept an application if there is an existing interim visitation order. For example, an order directing the parent or parents to attend parenting classes.
  • There is no application fee for the services of the Access and Visitation Program.
  • This program is available only to those individuals who have an active case with the Support Enforcement Services office.
  • Failure to cooperate with the Access and Visitation Program will result in your case closure within 20 (twenty) days. However, this is only as it relates to obtaining visitation.  Your child support case will remain active.
  • The identification of the parents is confidential. Only by persons engaged in and for the purpose of the Access and Visitation Program will have access.

Read more at the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services:

Requesting court-ordered visitation

If one parent has died or the parents have lived separately for six months or more or divorced, a child’s biological grandparents can request reasonable visitation If none of these situations applies, you can ask for court-ordered visitation if your grandchild is in foster care. However, if one or all of these circumstances apply: the parents struggle with substance use, one or both parents is legally incompetent, or one or both parents are in prison.

How to request visitation

First, file a petition through the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services with a proposed custody or visitation schedule for your grandchild. Both parents must receive official notification of your request. Furthermore, all parties must attend a hearing scheduled by the agency to determine custody and visitation.

Best interest of the child

To successfully obtain custody or visitation, grandparents must show the court that this arrangement is in the child’s best interest. Furthermore, you will need to present information about your relationship with the child:

the reason for the request;

your ability to provide support and appropriate guidance;

your willingness to foster a relationship with the child’s parents;

the mental and physical health of all parties; and

the child’s wishes if he or she is old enough to state a preference.

You need to proove your blood relation to the child with a DNA test if the child’s parents are not married.

Louisiana Judges tend to weigh parental rights more heavily than they do grandparent rights. For this reason, court-ordered grandparent visitation is rare unless one or both parents are in prison, abusive, or otherwise unfit. However, It is important to note that visitation for a grandparent cannot conflict with either parent’s court-ordered visitation time.

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