Married parents who divorce and unmarried parents who decide to begin living separately need to have a custody order in place that discusses how the adults in the family will share responsibility for their children. The steps involved in that process and even the specific requirements necessary to update or correct a custody order depend on the type of order entered on behalf of a family.
In Louisiana, there are generally two main types of custody orders that determine a parent’s rights and their responsibilities to the children in the family. In some cases, the family will have a consent decree on record whereas other times, parents will have a considered order instead.
A consent decree results from parental agreement
Many families would prefer to obtain a consent decree when possible, as it is an indicator of cooperation and reduced conflict. A consent decree is the result of an uncontested custody filing in which the parents have already discussed the needs of their family and have reached a mutual agreement about how they will share parenting time, financial responsibility and decision-making authority for their children. Those with a consent decree on record can usually minimize the court-related conflict they have with their co-parent and may then be in a better position to make amicable updates to those existing custody rules when family circumstances change.
A considered custody order is often the result of litigated custody proceedings. The name refers to how a judge will need to consider the circumstances of the family and state law before dividing parental rights and responsibilities. A judge will have reviewed the family situation carefully and entered an order that they believe would be in the best interests of the children in a situation with a considered custody order. If parents strongly disagreed about their initial custody terms, they may also find themselves disagreeing about the need for changes to custody arrangements as family circumstances all.
If parents need to go back to update a considered custody decree, prior Louisiana court rulings will determine the necessary steps. Often, adults in the family will need to meet a very rigorous standard based on important state precedents for custody cases. Someone seeking a contested modification of a considered custody decree will typically need to prove either that the current circumstances put the children at risk or fail to meet their changing needs.
Understanding the unique rules that apply to different types of Louisiana custody orders may help parents better navigate the sometimes contentious process of updating and renegotiating such arrangements.