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Louisiana program reconnects non-custodial parents with children

Fairly or unfairly, negative traits have been applied to Louisiana non-custodial parents. Parents, mostly divorced fathers living apart from their children, are accused of lack of financial and personal participation in their children’s lives. Baton Rouge parents may feel non-custodial fathers and mothers simply don’t care enough to live up to child support and visitation agreements, but there is another side.

Unmarried couple break-ups and divorces put a physical and mental distance between couples who no longer want to be together. The post-split relationship isn’t quite that cut-and-dried when the people involved are parents. Children’s interests require parental contact and cooperation but for many parents, that’s a fictional ideal.

Resentment and other feelings left over from the end of a relationship spill over into child custody and support issues. Custodial parents sometimes allow emotions to dictate whether a non-custodial parent can see a child in defiance of custody agreements. The “punishment” not only affects the non-custodial parent, but impacts children deprived of quality time with both parents.

It’s not uncommon for a custodial parent to use a missed child support payment as an excuse to forbid visitations. Some non-custodial parents do have valid reasons for failing to meet financial obligations, like an unexpected job or health crisis. Support issues and adult emotional conflicts are supposed to be independent of a non-custodial parent’s ability to exercise parental rights.

The federal Responsible Fatherhood Grant Program has jumpstarted Louisiana programs that help parents and children stay in contact. A Shreveport offshoot called the Faith in Fathers began after Caddo Parish officials noticed a disturbing number of juveniles in trouble with the law had absentee fathers. Program participants are provided education for parenting skills, legal help and family mediation.

Family law attorneys are aware of programs like these that can help parents cope with post-relationship conflicts. Improved parental communication and a willingness to compromise benefit parents and their children.

Source: Source: KSLA-TV, "Family First: Fighting for Fatherhood," Charisse Gibson, July 4, 2014

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