In Louisiana when a divorce attorney approaches a child custody issue, they practically always turn to the Louisiana Civil Code, and specifically article 134. This article possesses twelve different criteria for the court to look at vis a vis a particular custody situation before arriving at a conclusion about what is in the best interests of the child. Many of the factors are common-sense and practical considerations about how the relative welfare of the child would be best served in the proposed home or homes. Some of the factors are a little more obtuse. In an effort to explain the factors more clearly, a divorce attorney may find that this best explanation is through a hypothetical example.
Situations where one parent is willing but physically unable to care for the child can truly be heartbreaking. Sometimes it is because of a horrific accident, sometimes the result of old age, or other times one parent has a hereditary defect of some kind. Depending on the age of the child, the physical handicap of the parent may or may not be very relevant to their ability to take custody of that child. For example, imagine a parent who is bound to a wheelchair because they are paralyzed from the neck down. Now imagine that they are fighting for custody over a rambunctious two year old. While a custody battle cannot be analyzed without taking into account the merits of both parents, a divorce attorney may be concerned that the disabled parent in this situation may be at a disadvantage assuming everything else is equal. Now change the facts a little bit. Imagine that the wheelchair bound parent is not fighting for custody of their two year old, but rather their sixteen year old. Can the reader see how the physical disability suddenly becomes less significant?
Not only are there physical health issues to evaluate, but also mental ones. For instance, one parent may not make good ethical decisions, and that this behavior calls into question their ability to be a good parent. Well sometimes people have compromised decision-making ability not because they are unethical, but because they suffer from a lack of mental health of some kind. If a parent has for example, Alzheimer’s disease, they very well might be unable to care for a two year old child in a way that is both safe and responsible. Again, like in the instance of a physical handicap, the age of the child is relevant to a divorce attorney in this type of analysis. It is likely though that a court would be even more wary to place a child with a mentally infirm parent than a physically infirm one.