Louisiana courts encourage co-parenting following a couple’s separation. Isolated Baton Rouge non-custodial parents sometimes drift away from their children or are kept at arm’s length by a custodial parent. The Department of Children and Family Services has a program that attempts to foster the non-custodial parent’s relationship with children.
The Access and Visitation Program is primarily geared toward the best interests of children, but the benefits to parents are evident. Children without the love and support of both parents may have emotional, educational and behavioral difficulties. Courts try to prevent these future problems by working through visitation issues with parents.
The state program helps non-custodial parents in support enforcement services cases gain access to their children. The agency works with parents and family courts to set up visitation arrangements. The agency provides an attorney to act as a mediator for parents.
When parents won’t or can’t resolve visitation issues, the attorney asks a court to make a decision. The program and any judgments are primarily based upon children’s needs. This is consistent with the courts’ overall position in child custody and support matters.
The agency stands behind the rights of non-custodial parents to share in their children’s lives unless a visitation poses a threat to the children’s well-being. Access to a child can be limited or denied when a non-custodial parent is accused of or has a history of abuse.
The program will not give parents with a past conviction for sexual abuse access to their children. In some cases, parents with histories of domestic violence or non-sexual child abuse also are denied visitations. Depending upon circumstances, some are granted supervised visitation privileges.
Access and Visitation Program attorneys do not get involved in custody disputes. Custody matters are best resolved when parents seek the advice of independent counsel. Lawyers also help clients establish paternity so support, custody and visitation matters can move forward.