Raising a child is hard work, and doing so when the child’s parents are no longer in a relationship can make a difficult situation even tougher. When parents in Louisiana choose to divorce or decide to end their non-marital relationships, they must make important decisions about how they will share in the raising of their kids. If they cannot work out their own child custody and visitation matters, they may need to appear in court to have a judge decide for them.

While physical custody refers to where a child will live, legal custody refers to how decisions about the child’s welfare will be made. A parent who has legal custody of their child may or may not also have physical custody; in some cases, a parent may not be able to provide their child with day-to-day support but may have a valuable voice in making choices about how to provide for the needs of their child.

When a parent has legal custody of their child they have a voice in where their child is educated. If their child requires medical care, that parent can be part of the discussion regarding how and where the child is treated. Parents with legal custody can also take part in decisions about the child’s involvement with a religion and other important topics.

Legal custody is an important parental right that is often retained by both of a child’s parents after they split up or go through a divorce. While there is no way to guarantee whether a parent will be entitled to retain legal custody when they end their relationship with their ex, they may fight for this and other parental rights with the help of a family law advocate.