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HOW DOES LOUISIANA ENFORCE CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS?

Despite orders handed down by a family law court, thousands of Louisiana parents neglect or refuse to meet their child support obligations. This leaves the custodial parent with the overwhelming task of making ends meet without help from the co-parent. However, the children who deserve support and care from both parents end up suffering the most in these situations.

Custodial parents who are not receiving court-ordered child support should not hesitate to ask for legal assistance. Speaking with a family law attorney is an excellent way to get started. Your lawyer can petition the court for enforcement actions against the noncustodial parent, which include the following.

  • Garnishing income

  • Intercepting tax refunds, both state and federal

  • Denying passport applications

  • Intercepting funds from lotteries

  • Suspending vehicle registrations

  • Suspending the license to drive

  • Suspending professional or occupational licenses

  • Suspending sporting licenses

  • Holding the parent in contempt of court

The state's Department of Children and Family Services is responsible for collecting and then distributing support on behalf of the child. As such, you can be sure it already knows that your co-parent is delinquent. However, by having your attorney petition the family law court formally, it may be possible to speed enforcement.

Those who are on the other side of this common family law problem can also seek assistance when they cannot meet their support obligations. Rather than skipping one or more payments in a financial crisis, reach out for help from a lawyer. This can allow you to seek a modification of your child support orders without ignoring your obligations. Action on your part also helps you avoid incurring penalties from the state.

HOW CAN DIVORCED PARENTS TELL IF PARENTAL ALIENATION IS AN ISSUE?

Local family law attorneys can teach you a lot about the procedures involved in getting a divorce. They possess authoritative knowledge of the Louisiana laws that govern their practices and routinely guide spouses through the divorce process. Good family law attorneys with plenty of experience can also tell parents about other pitfalls that may arise during and after divorce. One such pitfall is the risk of alienation from the children couples may share.

Parental alienation is a troubling syndrome in which one parent works to undermine the other parent's relationship with their children. This can be significantly damaging to children as the syndrome often forces them to choose one parent over the other. Some people even believe that parental alienation could cause a child to develop a personality disorder if left unaddressed. A few signs of possible parental alienation syndrome include:

  • Your kids suddenly ask you not to attend school functions, sporting events and other activities.

  • Your children begin to exhibit challenging, combative or argumentative behaviors.

  • Your child or children seem to be provoking you into anger.

  • Your kids adopt an air of superiority over you.

  • Your children take full responsibility for the alienation and claim the other parent played no role in these new and disturbing behaviors.

If your children begin to display these or other signs of alienation, it is critical to their mental and emotional health to seek help from a childcare professional. Seeking advice from a family law attorney is also wise to prevent additional emotional harm from coming to your kids. For example, your lawyer can ask the family court to modify custody and visitation until the other parent gets professional help to stop these harmful activities.

Orion MeyersFamily Law
HOW IS YOUR CHILD CUSTODY DETERMINED IN LOUISIANA?

If you are facing a divorce with a particularly unstable or erratic spouse, you are likely concerned about how to protect your child throughout the process. Child custody is one of the most difficult parts of a divorce settlement. Emotions run high when the outcome is so very important.

What factors affect child custody?

A judge will want to know that a child is in a safe and nurturing environment when hearing your custody case. In most situations, judges would prefer to grant joint custody to both parents. Sadly, that is not always an option.

The judge will consider what is in the child’s best interest and how the following affect that:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide emotional support

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical, educational and spiritual needs

  • How long the child has lived in a stable environment, if that should continue

  • The stability of your living situation

  • Each parent’s past criminal history and how it could affect your child

  • Your child’s preference, depending on their age

  • The distance between each parent’s residences

Judges will also consider any arrangement you can agree to in a mediation setting out of court. They may also consider the opinion of a professional evaluator assigned to your case.

When will a judge consider sole custody?

If a judge determines that one parent is unfit to raise their children, or that they have done something that should result in loss of parenting privileges, they may grant sole custody to the other parent. The other parent may have visitation privileges under specific conditions.

However, you will need strong evidence to prove this. A judge will want to know that you have taken all the appropriate steps to give the other parent a chance to step up. If they cannot prove themselves, then you will need to gather the evidence you need to protect your child in the future.

Orion MeyersFamily Law
HANDLING CONFLICT BETWEEN YOUR CO-PARENT AND YOUR NEW PARTNER

When parents divorce, they have to remain in each other's lives to some extent. They need to communicate about the kids and attend school and extracurricular activities together. They may even continue to attend family holiday gatherings together. If they get along, they may not have clear boundaries about how much interaction is appropriate.

What happens if you get involved in a serious relationship with someone else and that person has an issue with just how much your ex is still in your life? It may be time to set some boundaries -- both with your co-parent and your new partner.

For example, if you and your co-parent are still spending a good deal of time talking or texting about things other than your kids, it may be time to draw a line with your ex. If not, your significant other may wonder whether you're really over that person -- and they may have a valid concern.

Another boundary you may need to set is how much say your significant other or new spouse has when it comes to your children. That's where some of the most serious conflicts occur.

Your new partner needs to respect and follow the rules that you and your co-parent have set -- even if they're now the kids' stepparent. Your kids have already had to adjust to you and their other parent having somewhat different rules and expectations. Having a third person come along with their own expectations is just going to cause confusion and anxiety.

Sometimes, divorcing couples will include provisions in their parenting plan regarding how much contact a significant other can have with their kids. For example, they may establish a rule that no romantic partner can spend the night while the kids are in the house. If you haven't established these rules, you may need to. This can help things go more smoothly for everyone -- especially your children.

Orion MeyersFamily Law
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IF YOU HAVE SUPERVISED CHILD VISITATION

If a court has ordered that your visitation time with your children be supervised, you likely know why that decision was made. Supervised visitation is most commonly ordered when there has been an issue with a parent's behavior (or alleged behavior) that concerns a judge.

Of course, if there's a history of domestic violence, a parent won't be allowed to be alone with their kids. However, problems with substance abuse can also warrant supervised visitation. So can allegations of neglect.

Whether you agree with the need for supervised visitation or not, it's essential to realize that a family court judge has ordered it for your children's well-being -- not to punish you. If your co-parent has made false accusations, you and your attorney need to fight them.

In the meantime, it's important to make the most of the time you get with your children. Use this time to strengthen your bond with them or -- if necessary -- rebuild your relationship.

It's essential to understand the terms of your supervised visitation and abide by them. Not doing so will only hurt your quest to gain greater access to your kids. That means knowing the schedule and sticking to it. Be at the appointed visitation spot on time and with activities planned for the kids. Don't ask for changes to the schedule unless it's absolutely necessary.

Sometimes, supervised visitations take place in a parent's home or that of a family member with another adult in attendance. Other times, they occur in a supervised visitation center where there may be multiple parents and children with social workers or other professionals monitoring them. Whichever the situation it is, know the rules and follow them.

What you and your kids do during your visits will depend on their ages and interests. You may want to bring games, books or craft projects to work on. Have an activity planned that you can finish during your allotted time, if possible. Be prepared for your kids to have their own plans. Maybe they'll bring something they want to do. Maybe they'd rather just talk. They may not feel like interacting.

Don't use this time to criticize your co-parent or question your kids about what's happening in their home. Focus on enjoying your time with them and strengthening your relationship. If you have questions or concerns about the terms of your supervised visitation, talk with your attorney.

Orion MeyersFamily Law