Last week's blog discussed the best interests of the child standard as it pertains to custody decisions. When making child custody decisions, courts assess a number of factors to determine what is in the best interests of the children in question before making a child custody order. Generally, Louisiana courts lean towards awarding joint physical custody if the parents are in close proximity to one another. However, when this does not happen, then the parent who does not have primary custody, also referred to as the noncustodial parent, has to work out a visitation schedule.
In Louisiana, the Department of Children and Family Services helps noncustodial parents get visitation with their children if they do not have a history of family violence or physical abuse toward the child. The general rule is that all noncustodial parents are allowed visitation rights with their children unless there are allegations of abuse or the court has ordered supervised visitation. The program seeks to help parents with an open case with the Support Enforcement Services Office, facilitating the emotional development of minor children by ensuring a healthier connection with the parent they are not living with primarily.
When a visitation schedule has been created, it is very important for noncustodial parents to adhere to the schedule given by the court. If there is some issue with it, it is very important to communicate that quickly to the other parent. Additionally, it is also important to plan ahead for visits and make sure that the child feels at home in the noncustodial parent's home as they would in their own. Similarly, where child custody payments are being made, it is important to track them and keep proof of them, should a future disagreement arise and concrete evidence required of payments.
Navigating the relationship with one's ex after a divorce is a tricky area, and meeting one another regularly due to children can often strain a relationship. It might be beneficial then, to ensure that all legalities are worked out through a third party and an experienced attorney may be able to help with that.