When is Awarding Custody to a Non-Parent Appropriate?
Under Louisiana law, it is extremely difficult to be awarded custody of a child if you are not the child’s parent. However, sometimes it is appropriate in circumstances where awarding custody to the parents would be harmful to the child.
Recently, the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal decided just such a case. The child in question had been placed in the sole custody of her mother. However, the child had been living with cousins for a long period of time. The cousins eventually asked the court for sole custody of the girl.
At trial, the cousins proved that the mother had eight children in total. They were all being raised by someone other than the mother. There was a history of the children performing poorly in school. The child was left in the custody of the cousins for long periods of time with no assistance from the mother. The mother also made no effort to attend to the child’s diagnosed learning disability. When the child was living with the cousins, she did well in school and flourished. When she was living with her mother, her grades went from being an A-B student to failing.
The trial court and court of appeal agreed this was the kind of case where it was appropriate to award custody to the cousins to protect the child and give her the best chance at succeeding in life.
Cases like this are tough for the parties, attorneys, and judges. No one wants to take a child away from her parents. However, sometimes, that is what is required to give a child a chance to grow up in a happy, healthy environment. The courts did their job in this case in protecting that little girl, and they should be applauded.