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What constitutes unfit parenting in a custody battle?

No matter how often you and your spouse argued during marriage, it doesn't necessarily mean either of you is a bad parent. Like most Louisiana families, you've probably had good days and some not so good when it comes to raising your children.

Unfit parenting, on the other hand, is an entirely different thing.

If you're gearing up for a child custody battle in court and you believe your ex's presence in your children's lives would be a detriment to their well-being at this time, you're going to need to convince the judge overseeing your case that you have evidence to substantiate your claim. The court does not make such decisions lightly, but does have the power to restrict or fully prohibit custody or visitation if it is in the best interests of the child(ren) involved.

Your children's well-being is the court's priority

The court typically believes that children fare best in divorce if they have ample opportunities to maintain active, healthy relationships with both parents. However, even if the judge overseeing your case has already issued a court order regarding your custody or visitation schedule, he or she may modify the order as needed if you submit a request and can back it up with evidence that there is legitimate cause to implement a change.

Danger versus parental preference

Just because you don't like how the other parent does things when your kids visit his or her house, it doesn't necessarily mean the court would consider the situation evidence of unfit parenting.

For example, if you prefer that your children eat only whole foods, but their other parent allows them to stuff themselves with sweets, it may be a health concern, but most judges would not see this situation as something that places children in imminent danger.

Definite issues of concern

If you believe that your ex has a substance abuse problem or physically, sexually or emotionally abuses your children, you can immediately bring the matter to the court's attention. Child safety is a number one priority in all custody cases. In fact, most Louisiana parents would agree that it would be better to face contempt charges than to place your kids in harm's way.

If there is no court order

Perhaps you and your ex have been handling the whole custody/visitation thing on your own up to this point. You may want to reconsider your plan and petition the court for a legally defined plan. Having a court order in place can help you protect your children, especially if you believe the court has reason to restrict or prohibit their visits with their other parent.

Where to seek support

If a crisis suddenly arises, you can call 911 or contact local police, such as in circumstances where you believe a domestic violence situation is unfolding in the moment. Perhaps you got a text or other message from a child who was reaching out for help. Barring present danger, if your children are in your custody, but you find yourself dealing with a situation that warrants the court's intervention, you can seek support from an experienced family law attorney who can explain the process of filing a petition.

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