The guide is meant to help someone who is not represented by a lawyer understand the general rules and procedures of a civil court case in Louisiana. It is not a complete guide to the law nor does it discuss every issue or aspect of the law that may affect your case.
This information is not meant to replace State laws or Court Rules. The purpose of this guide is to give general information and make it easier to represent yourself in court. You have a right to represent yourself in court, but it comes with the responsibility to follow certain court rules and procedures.
The guide will help you with issues concerning visitation by:
Answering questions on how to seek visitation in the "Frequently Asked Questions" section below;
Preparing a "Rule for Visitation" in the "Forms Available" section;
Explaining the steps for filing for visitation in the "Instructions" section attached to the form;
Giving you more information about how to file court papers for free in the "Related Articles" section;
Helping you find a lawyer in the "Community Resources" section.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT VISITATION IN LOUISIANA
1. What is the difference between visitation and custody?
Visitation is the actual time a parent spends with his or her child. Custody can be legal or physical and involves the right a parent has to make decisions about their child. It is possible to have visitation rights but not custody. Click here for more information on Custody.
2. How does visitation work in Louisiana? Can I get more than standard visitation?
In Louisiana, the courts grant Visitation according to the best interest of the child or children. To create a stable home environment, the child may live with the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent may have a schedule to visit, for example on weekends or every other weekend the child may stay with the non-custodial parent. There are many factors to consider for visitation schedules such as a parent’s work schedule, the travel distance between the parent’s homes, and whether the parents are willing to work together. You may want to talk to an attorney to help you decide on what kind of visitation would work best for you and your family. Click here for help finding an attorney.
3. What kind of visitation will be ordered if one parent lives in another state?
If a parent lives in another state, visitation is more difficult. The court will try to determine what is in the best interest of the child or children by evaluating the situation. Factors that may be addressed are the parents work schedules, the child’s preference, the existing relationship between the non-cusdodial parent and the child, the distance required and the child’s school schedule. Each situation is different. One non-custodial parent may be required to travel to the state where the child resides while another non-custodial parent may be granted visitation rights in his/her own domicile. In these types of situations, it is important to get legal advice to figure out what may be best for you. Please click here for help finding an attorney.
4. What is supervised visitation and when is it ordered?
The court can restrict a parent’s visitation with supervised visitation. If a parent has supervised visitation, there must be an approved third party present during visitation. The court grants visitation rights according to what is in “the best interest of the child.” Therefore, supervised visitation is typically ordered when one parent has a history of physical, sexual or substance abuse that would interfere with their ability to properly care for their child or children. That includes physical abuse against the other parent. The Judge will evaluate the evidence and decide whether supervised visitation is necessary.
5 Is it possible for a parent to receive no visitation?
If there is evidence of severe abuse, especially any convictions of sexual abuse against the child, the Court can take away a parent’s visitation rights completely. Each case is different. At times, the Court can require a parent to complete a substance abuse program or counseling to gain back visitation rights but in a limited sense such as supervised visitation. It may be in your best interest to speak with an attorney. He or she can provide advice on the best way to address this type of situation. Please click here for information on contacting an attorney.
6. When can visitation be modified?
It is understandable that schedules may change in the future. For instance, one parent might have changed careers and is available for visitation evenings instead of days. You will have to petition the Court to modify the visitation schedule. Be prepared to show evidence of this change. An attorney can help you decide whether you should modify your visitation schedule and how the changes may affect you and your child. Please click here to find an attorney.
7. What if the custodial parent doesn’t let me have visitation?
If a parent refuses to abide by the Visitation Order, the court can help enforce your rights. Additionally, the Louisiana State Department of Children and Family Services has a program to help non-custodial parents exercise their visitation rights. The program is open to non-custodial parents who do not have an existing Visitation Order. To find out more information, click the link below.
8. Can I stop visitation if my child’s father/mother doesn’t pay child support?
No. Child support is independent of visitation rights. Generally, each parent has a right to spend time with their children despite how much or how little they pay in child support each month. Only the court can impose fines and/or penalties if a parent does not pay child support. Therefore, if you have a problem receiving child support, the best thing to do is notify the court. Please click here for more information.
9. Can grandparents be awarded visitation rights?
Typically, only parents can be granted visitation rights. However, a grandparent or other person can ask to court to be awarded visitation rights in exceptional circumstances. The judge will review these types of situations on a case by case basis. If you need further assistance, an attorney can help you decide whether you meet the requirements for visitation rights. Please check here for a list of resources that may be available for you.