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Read this if you're a non-custodial parent

Like many divorced parents in Louisiana and beyond, when you signed the divorce papers, you immediately started to worry about how the situation was going to affect your children. You've known enough friends and family members who have gotten divorced to know that kids often encounter serious emotional challenges as they try to adapt to new lifestyles after their parents' divorce.

As a non-custodial parent, you want to make sure you maintain an active, healthy and close relationship with your kids. They mean the world to you, and you don't want any type of legal issue to arise between you and your ex that adversely affects your parent/children relationship. Protecting your rights doesn't mean you are placing legalities above your children's best interests; in fact, sometimes, it means you are doing what's best for them.

Protecting your relationship with your kids

Especially if your ex tries to use your kids as a means to take revenge against you for past marital issues, you may feel frustrated or as though you are backed into a corner. You may not have physical custody of your kids; however, unless the court has prohibited you from seeing them, you can protect your relationship with them by exercising your parental rights. The tips included on the following list may also be helpful:

  • Don't consider yourself a visitor, and don't let your ex portray you as such. You had no intention of abdicating your parental responsibilities when you divorced and will always be a parent, not a guest in your children's lives.
  • If the court orders you to pay child support, keep up on payments. However, if your ex is using threats against you, such as keeping your kids away from you if you make a late payment or telling you that you'll never see them again unless you pay more, you can bring such matters to the immediate attention of the court.
  • Advanced technology is a great asset when it comes to keeping in close contact with your kids when it's not your turn to be with them. You can use social media, texting, virtual chats and other programs to stay closely connected to your children, even on a daily basis.
  • If your spouse keeps bringing up unresolved legal issues when you meet to pick up or drop off your children, you may want to consider litigating the issue to find a solution rather than letting it linger and exposing your kids to post-divorce stress.

If you don't have a child custody, visitation or support order in place, it is always a good idea to get one. While many Louisiana parents want to avoid going to court, some have learned the hard way that it's better to have everything in writing, stamped with a judge's approval, so that it is easy to prove if a co-parent acted unlawfully.

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