The fall is a big transition for everyone, but it is especially so for divorced parents. The summer is over and ex-spouses have to resume their arrangement of taking kids to school, shuttling them to activities, meeting with teachers and agreeing on a holiday schedule. And with our community recovering from epic recent flooding and surge in traffic, those issues can be particularly complicated right now. This is also a good time to take stock on child custody issues. Any changes in employment, whether a raise or a reduction in income, should be made clear so that an appropriate legal adjustment can be made.
If you need help with any of these child custody issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
1. Flight? Then fight.
If your ex-spouse thinks it’s okay to suddenly leave town with your child without an official agreement, he or she needs to think again. Child custody agreements should spell out exactly how each spouse interacts with the child, including who will pick up the child from school or day care, the child’s legal residence and proper notification of travel. Questions about these arrangements can arise in every divorced family and when they do, it’s important to work with a family law attorney to ensure the best possible situation for you and your child(ren).
2. If it ain’t broke…
It’s not fair to anyone if one parent tries to disrupt an already established pattern of visitation. Sure, a new academic year might bring new challenges, such as a new school, set of activities or a new schedule. This is especially true right now as many people in south Louisiana experience a disruption in routine. If your visitation schedule changes and you and your ex-spouse do not have an amicable working relationship, you should work through an aggressive child custody attorney to reach the right solution.
3. Joint vs. Sole Child Custody
There are two basic types of child custody arrangements in Louisiana:
1. Joint Custody refers to a situation in which both parents share major decisions on things like education, enrichment, religion and healthcare even if the child spends more time in the physical presence of one parent than the other. In this case, the custodial parent has physical custody of the child, but both parents share legal custody.
2. Sole Custody refers to the type of custody in which one parent makes major decisions, even if the child spends time with both. Even if you have sole custody, your ex-spouse is most likely entitled to visitation.
4. Get ahead of the holidays
Holidays are stressful enough, but to have to divide Trick-or-Treating and Santa Clause can be a powder keg — even for ex-spouses who get along. Many families have established a holiday arrangement in advance, and it is important to stick with it since such arrangements are binding. If it needs to be adjusted for extenuating circumstances, or if your ex-spouse is demanding a change you do not agree with, give us a call.
5. Follow the money
Child support is an issue that all parties need to monitor. Child support agreements are legally binding, so if the responsible parent fails to make payments, the other parent should work with an attorney to file a petition. In addition, when a parent paying child support has been fortunate enough to see an increase in annual income, that information should be communicated to the court so that support is appropriately modified. On the flip side, a reduction in salary is also critical to report so that a parent can continue to make payments that are fair and reasonable.
Clarity and consistency are the most important factors when it comes to child custody issues and child support issues. For more information, call our office today. We’re here to help.