This article deals with Louisiana Civil Code Art. 134(7): “The mental and physical health of each party.” Section (7) makes clear that there are two components to its decree for a court and/or a divorce attorney to consider: 1) the mental health of a parent and 2) the physical health of the parent. Both can arguably play an important role in determining whether or not that parent is fit to have custody of the child or children.
There may be a broad range of mental issues that one parent may have which could possibly jeopardize their ability to parent effectively, and which may convince a court and/or a divorce attorney that awarding them custody is not a good idea. Some of the more obvious mental conditions which could preclude custody are serious disorders, such as schizophrenia. If a parent is so mentally unfit that they cannot separate reality from fantasy, and are barely able (if at all) to care for themselves, than it is extremely unlikely that a court will award them custody of the child. Most times however, when one parent has a mental illness or disease or hardship, they are not so clearly unfit as in the example of schizophrenia. For example, if one parent has a simple learning disability, like dyslexia, it is probably unlikely that a court will consider this at all. This is because a learning disability likely has little effect on their ability to be an effective and loving parent.
However, the line can become more murky when the mental problem is a little more severe, such as in the case of bipolar or “manic depressive” disorders, substance addiction, or other “loss of function” disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Of course a divorce attorney will urge the court to consider the totality of the evidence in each case, but these latter disorders certainly would pose a larger problem to the afflicted parent in trying to secure custody.
In addition to mental health, a court must also necessarily consider physical health. Sometimes, a parent may have such severe physical ailments that their ability to have custody of the child may be questioned by the other divorce attorney or lawyer. For example, if a parent is a quadriplegic, or terminally ill, it would be difficult for the parent to argue that they still have the requisite physical ability required to care for a child in the proper way. Other more minor physical ailments, such leg paralysis or amputated limbs, probably would not pose nearly the same hurdle. In order for a physical injury or ailment to bar the chance of custody of a child, it need be one that seriously puts into question the parent’s fitness on a day to day basis to care for the child in an appropriate way.
Will Beaumont is a divorce attorney in New Orleans. This article is informational, not legal advice. Most courts apply their own judgment in making a child custody ruling in New Orleans. Divorce attorney assistance can be helpful, however. For more information see http://www.beaumontdivorce.com/
- Louisiana Family Law: Civil Code Article 134(9) and its Applicability to a Divorce Attorney
- Louisiana Family Law: Civil Code Article 134(6) and its Applicability to a Divorce Attorney
- Louisiana Family Law: Civil Code Article 134(5) and its Applicability to a Divorce Attorney
- Louisiana Family Law: Civil Code Article 134(8) and its Applicability to a Divorce Attorney
- Louisiana Family Law: Civil Code Article 134(1) and its Applicability to a Divorce Lawyer