Custody and Visitation Rights for Grandparents in Louisiana -- Video and Text
Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (Hammond Office)
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I'm a grandparent who wants legal custody of my grandchild. What are my rights? Can I get custody in Louisiana?
That depends on a lot of things.
Do you need legal custody because the child lives with you and you need to get him in school or get medical care? Do the parents want you to take care of your grandchild? If that's the case, you can get provisional (temporary) custody very quickly. If the parents agree that you can have custody, they can sign a form in front of a notary. Most free legal aid programs will help you with this. It is called "Provisional Custody by Mandate" under Louisiana Revised Statute 9:951. That custody can last for up to one (1) year at a time.
But if any parents are living and don't want you to have custody it is a lot harder. You have to sue the parents for custody. A judge would have to agree you should have legal custody.
What would I have to show a judge to get custody?
In Louisiana, you have to show that parental custody will cause substantial harm to the child. This means something very serious, like abuse, violence, abandonment or neglect.
A parent's low income is not enough to deny her custody. That the child wants to live with you instead of a parent is also not enough.
You also have to show that living with you would be good for the child. It is not easy to win custody from a parent. You should get a lawyer.
What about visitation rights? The parents won't let me see my grandbaby. What can I do?
Try to work it out if you can. You do have a right to go to court and ask a judge to order visitation. This is under Louisiana Civil Code art. 136. But it is very hard to get a visitation order.
You have to prove "extraordinary circumstances" to the judge, AND that visitation with you is in the "best interest" of your grandchild.
The judge will look at lots of things, including:
- The length and quality of your relationship with the child;
- Whether the child is in need of guidance you can give;
- What the child wants, if she's old enough to give an opinion;
- How willing you are to encourage a close relationship between the child and her parents; and
- The mental and physical health of you and the child.
Can I get visitation if my child is dead or in jail?
Yes, a court may give you reasonable visitation if it is in your grandchild's best interest.