Child Custody and Visitation - Dan Robin, Jr.
Child Custody and Visitation
If you are a parent considering or involved in a divorce, you may be looking for information on how child custody and visitation issues are resolved in divorce. Generally, like all aspects of divorce, child custody and visitation will either be decided by agreement between the divorcing parties or by the court (often with the help of attorneys and mediators).
In Louisiana, the court shall award custody in accordance with the parents' agreement, unless the best interests of the child prove otherwise. If there is no agreement or if an agreement is not in the best interest of the child, the court shall award joint custody. However, custody by only one parent may be awarded if it is shown by clear and convincing evidence to serve the child's best interests to do so, these being a stable environment, responsible caregiver preferences and such. Usually the parent not awarded custody is entitled to reasonable visitation. Reasonable visitation means that it is left to the parents of the child (you and your ex-spouse) to come up with a plan or schedule of visitation times. When the parents are able to cooperate, this is generally not a problem to determine visitation schedules and allows the parents to work around their necessary schedules.
Often the parent with custodial rights will generally have more power and influence over what is considered "reasonable visitation" in terms of times and length of stay. But keep in mind that the custodial parent has no legal duty to agree to any proposed visitation scheduled. If a parent is being inflexible just to be malicious towards his or her ex-spouse, this can backfire and a judge may take this into consideration if visitation issues ever need to be reviewed. If you and your ex are currently under a reasonable visitation plan and it is not working, you may go back to the court and ask for a different arrangement of parental visitation rights, such as a "fixed" visitation schedule.
Reasonable visitation can work very well as long parents are willing to communicate with each other in a sane, rational manner. If you believe that you and your ex-spouse will not be able to cooperate in a reasonable visitation plan, you should let the judge know this and insist on a fixed visitation schedule instead.
Often courts are inclined to place parents on fixed visitation schedules when it appears clear that there is conflict between the parents and they are not willing to cooperate with each other. And courts may be more inclined to issue fixed visitations because it offers some stability that children can rely on in an upsetting and confusing period that a divorce can bring into their lives.
If there is a history of abuse towards a spouse or children, this needs to be pointed out to the court when the court is deciding parental visitation rights. If a court thinks that the non-custodial parent is likely to harm or abuse the child during their visitation time, the court will order supervised visitations to ensure protection, meaning the child must be in the presence of another adult (other than the custodial parent) that will prevent any abuse of the child. It might be a person appointed by the court or agreed upon by the parents (such as a grandparent). Without question, all supervisors must be approved by the court to fill this role.
In regards to grandparent rights, very state in the county has some sort of law that allows for grandparent visitations. However, parents are generally given great weight in decisions to grandparent visitation, with the law differing state by state. You may wish to speak with a divorce or child custody lawyer who may help educate you on visitation laws that may be available in your state.
Are you currently going through a divorce and need information regarding child custody, visitation or support? Contact our Louisiana Child Support Lawyers for a Free Case Evaluation today!