In a proceeding for divorce or thereafter, the court shall award custody of a child in accordance with the best interest of the child.


If the parents agree who is to have custody, the court will award custody in accordance with their agreement unless other provisions of law apply or the best interest of the child requires a different award.

Absent exceptions, the court will award custody to the parents jointly; however, if custody in one parent is shown by clear and convincing evidence to serve the best interest of the child, the court will award custody to that parent.

The court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of the child, including:

  • The potential for the child to be abused, as defined by the Children's Code, which shall be the primary consideration.
  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.
  • The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child.
  • The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment.
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  • The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.
  • The history of substance abuse, violence, or criminal activity of any party.
  • The mental and physical health of each party. Evidence that an abused parent suffers from the effects of past abuse by the other parent shall not be grounds for denying that parent custody.
  • The home, school, and community history of the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
  • The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party, except when objectively substantial evidence of specific abusive, reckless, or illegal conduct has caused one party to have reasonable concerns for the child's safety or well-being while in the care of the other party.
  • The distance between the respective residences of the parties.
  • The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.
In cases involving a history of committing family violence, or domestic abuse, including sexual abuse, whether or not a party has sought relief under any applicable law, the court will determine an award of custody or visitation in accordance with law. The court may only find a history of committing family violence if the court finds that one incident of family violence has resulted in serious bodily injury or the court finds more than one incident of family violence.


If you've been served with a petition for child custody or wish to file a petition for child custody, contact Attorney Ebonee Norris of The Norris Law Group for help. She will work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for you.

We know that no two cases are the same. We will thoroughly review the details of your case to ensure that you receive the best possible legal representation and that your rights are protected. Call us today at 318-771-7000 or reach out to us online. We're ready to put our experience to work for you.