When parents are unable to care for a minor child or the child’s parent limits contact with grandparents, the grandparents may desire custodial rights. In Louisiana, grandparents can request legal custody or visitation only under specific circumstances.

If you are a grandparent concerned about your minor grandchild, you should understand the state’s visitation and custody process.

Who can request visitation

A child’s biological grandparents can request reasonable visitation in Louisiana in cases in which one parent has died or the parents have lived separately for six months or more or divorced. If none of these situations applies, you could still ask for court-ordered visitation if the child is in foster care, the parents struggle with substance use and/or one or both parents is legally incompetent or in prison.

How to request visitation

First, file a petition through the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services with a proposed custody or visitation schedule for your grandchild. Both parents must receive official notification of your request. All parties must attend a hearing scheduled by the agency to determine custody and visitation.

Proof of the best interest standard

To successfully obtain custody or visitation, grandparents must show the court that this arrangement is in the child’s best interest. You will present information about your relationship with the child, the reason for the request, your ability to provide support and appropriate guidance, your willingness to foster a relationship with the child’s parents, the mental and physical health of all parties and the child’s wishes if he or she is old enough to state a preference. You must also prove your blood relation to the child with a DNA test if his or her parents are not married.

In Louisiana, judges tend to weigh parental rights more heavily than they do grandparent rights. For this reason, court-ordered grandparent visitation is rare unless one or both parents is in prison, abusive or otherwise unfit. In addition, visitation for a grandparent cannot conflict with either parent’s court-ordered visitation time.