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Louisiana Grandparents' Rights

Three Statutes Create Complex Situation


Older man with grandson on beach
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Three statutes govern visitation rights in Louisiana, making it one of the trickier systems to navigate. In the statute which applies to the majority of cases, grandparents may be awarded visitation rights if the parent who is the child of the grandparent is deceased, incarcerated or has been "interdicted," meaning declared legally incompetent. In addition, in the case of death or incarceration, grandparents may petition for visitation if the parents of the child lived "in concubinage," that is, are unmarried. Visitation may also be possible "in extraordinary circumstances" if the parents of the child are legally separated or living apart for a period of six months. The only "extraordinary circumstance" that is specified is if the court determines that "a parent is abusing a controlled dangerous substance." As always, the court "in its discretion" must consider the best interest of the child. See LSA R.S. 9:344.

Article 136 of the Civil Code gives visitation rights, also under extraordinary circumstances, to relatives by blood or affinity, including grandparents. Where this article conflicts with the first statute, the provisions of R.S. 9:344 supersede Article 136. Before granting visitation under Article 136, the court must consider the longevity and quality of the relationship; the relative's ability to provide needed guidance; the preference of the child, if the child is able to express a preference; the relative's willingness to promote the child's relationship with the parent; and the mental and physical health of both the child and the relative. See Article 136.

The final statute which is applicable is Article 1264 of the Children's Code, which decrees that grandparents lose visitation rights in the case of adoption unless the grandparents are the parents of a deceased parent or a parent who has forfeited his or her right to object to adoption. See Article 1264.

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