Recent research has highlighted the mutual psychological advantages of strong relationships between grandchildren and grandparents.

Investigators at Boston College analyzed data from 374 grandparents and 356 adult grandchildren over 19 years, revealing close emotional bonds between these two groups are linked with fewer signs of depression for both. The investigative work underscores the unique rewards of such intergenerational connections. 

The study indicates grandparents gain access to new ideas and perspectives through their grandchildren, while grandchildren benefit from the wisdom and historical insights of their elders. Past studies have corroborated these findings, showing children with strong ties to their grandparents often experience better emotional health and social behavior.

Eligibility for grandparent visitation rights in family law hinges on specific legal criteria. In Louisiana, grandparents may seek visitation if the parents are divorced, one parent has passed away, or the child has been adopted by a stepparent. The state prioritizes a child’s well-being, so grandparents must show involvement will benefit the child’s life. Additionally, courts will consider the relationship history between the grandparent and grandchild. It’s a complex process where legal nuances play a significant role. Each situation is unique, with various factors influencing the court’s decision. Grandparents aiming to secure visitation rights should understand these legal requirements as a first step in the process.

Initial Considerations: Assessing the Child’s Best Interests

When assessing a child’s best interests in relation to grandparent visitation rights, courts examine several elements. Stability, emotional ties, and the grandparent’s ability to provide a nurturing environment are scrutinized. The child’s own wishes may also carry weight, especially for older children capable of expressing their preferences. Louisiana law mandates a child’s health, safety, and welfare are paramount. Prior conduct of the grandparents, such as their willingness to foster a positive relationship between the child and both parents, is considered. Factors like the child’s routine, home environment, and the potential impact of visitation on their development are critical to a court’s evaluation. It’s a process designed to ensure the involvement of grandparents correlates with a positive influence on the child’s life.

Preparing Your Case: Gathering Evidence to Support Visitation Claims

Gathering evidence is a pivotal step for grandparents preparing to request visitation rights. Documentation demonstrating a strong bond with the grandchild is vital. This can include photos, correspondence, and testimonies from individuals aware of the relationship. Evidence of the grandchild’s positive responses to past interactions, such as phone logs or gifts, can also be helpful. Records showing consistent involvement in the child’s life support the argument for maintaining contact. Grandparents should compile any evidence portraying their home as a safe and beneficial environment for the child. Demonstrating a history of positive influence and emotional support can be influential. Careful preparation and detailed evidence collection lay the groundwork for a compelling case to the court.

Legal Procedures: How to File a Petition for Visitation in Louisiana

In Louisiana, the legal procedure for filing a petition for grandparent visitation involves several steps. Grandparents must file a formal request, known as a petition, with the family court in the parish where the grandchild resides. This petition should detail the reasons visitation is in the child’s best interests. Legal forms must be completed accurately, and any required filing fees paid. Once the petition is filed, the court will schedule a hearing. At this hearing, both sides can present their arguments and evidence. Proper service of the petition to the child’s parents or guardians is a legal requirement, ensuring they are aware of the proceedings and can respond. A clear, well-prepared petition aligns with Louisiana statutes on grandparent visitation is essential for the legal process to move forward.

Mediation Options: Exploring Alternative Dispute Resolution

Exploring mediation as an alternative dispute resolution can offer a less confrontational path to establishing grandparent visitation rights. Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps both grandparents and parents discuss their concerns and work toward a mutually agreeable solution. It is a space for open dialogue where the focus remains on the child’s best interests without the formalities of a courtroom setting. Many find mediation can lead to a faster, more amicable resolution, often with less emotional and financial strain. It allows for flexible arrangements to be tailored to the family’s unique needs. While not every case can be resolved through mediation, it presents a valuable opportunity for grandparents to negotiate visitation rights in a collaborative manner.

Courtroom Dynamics: Presenting Your Case for Visitation Rights

Understanding courtroom dynamics is essential when presenting a case for grandparent visitation rights. In a family court setting, the judge’s role is to assess the case based on the law and the evidence presented. Grandparents should prepare to clearly articulate the relationship with the grandchild and the positive impact of their involvement. Presenting a case involves organizing all evidence, such as documented past interactions and testimonies supporting the grandparent’s role in the child’s life.

It’s important to remain calm and respectful, addressing the judge with appropriate decorum. Emotions can run high in family law cases, but maintaining composure can help the court see the grandparent as a stabilizing influence for the child. Grandparents should also be prepared to respond to any concerns raised by the parents or their legal representatives, focusing on the child’s best interests rather than personal conflicts. A well-presented case can significantly influence the outcome in a grandparent’s favor.

Legal Hurdles: Overcoming Objections to Grandparent Visitation

Overcoming objections to grandparent visitation often involves addressing concerns about the child’s well-being and the potential for disruption to the child’s life. When parents or guardians resist a grandparent’s request for visitation, it may be based on issues of suitability, the child’s routine, or the belief such visits are not in the child’s best interests.

Legal hurdles can also stem from the interpretation of parental rights and the threshold for intervention by non-parental figures. Grandparents must often demonstrate their presence will not interfere with the child’s upbringing but instead will enhance the child’s welfare. Responding to objections requires a thorough understanding of family law and the factors courts consider when determining visitation rights. It may also necessitate providing additional evidence or expert testimony to address specific concerns raised by the opposing party.

Judgments and Orders: Interpreting the Court’s Decision

Interpreting a court’s decision on grandparent visitation rights requires careful attention to the details of the judgment or order issued. The decision will outline the specifics of the visitation schedule, including days, times, and conditions under which visitation is to occur. It may also address how the visits should be conducted, such as supervised or unsupervised.

The judgment reflects the court’s conclusion after considering all evidence about what arrangement serves the child’s best interests. It’s legally binding, meaning all parties must adhere to the terms set forth. If the court denies visitation, the order will explain the reasons, often relating to the child’s well-being or lack of evidence showing a beneficial relationship with the grandparents. Understanding the court’s rationale behind its decision can be instrumental for future petitions or appeals.

Post-Trial Steps: Enforcing Visitation Rights

After a trial, enforcing visitation rights granted by the court requires adherence to the specifics of the judgment. If the grandparents are granted visitation, they must follow the schedule and terms outlined in the court order. Should the parents or guardians not comply with the order, the grandparents have legal avenues to ensure enforcement.

One common step is to file a motion for enforcement or contempt in the same court which issued the visitation order. This motion can prompt the court to take action to ensure the visitation rights are respected. Documentation of any instances of non-compliance is crucial, as it provides evidence the court’s orders are not being followed. It’s a legal procedure intended to uphold the rights established by the court for the benefit of the child’s relationship with their grandparents.

Modifications and Appeals: Addressing Changes in Visitation Rulings

Grandparents Rights

Addressing changes in visitation rulings involves a structured legal process. If circumstances change significantly, grandparents or parents can petition the court to modify the visitation order. This request must be supported by evidence the modification is in the child’s best interests, such as changes in the child’s needs, relocation, or alterations in the grandparents’ ability to provide care.

If one party believes the court’s decision was incorrect based on legal grounds, they may file an appeal. An appellate court reviews the original court’s application of the law, rather than the facts of the case. The appealing party must demonstrate a legal error occurred during the trial and could have affected the outcome. This process ensures the legal system has mechanisms for review and correction to align with the justice system’s standards and the prevailing laws regarding family and visitation rights.

Call 504-523-6496 or contact our expert team for a free consultation. 

In Louisiana, the courts often lean towards joint custody as the initial option in child custody cases. This approach supports the belief that maintaining a relationship with both parents is typically in the child’s best interest. Joint custody, however, doesn’t always mean equal time with each parent. It can refer to legal custody, which is the right to make important decisions about the child’s life, such as education, health, and religion. Physical custody, which is about where the child lives, can be shared or given primarily to one parent, depending on various factors. Remember, the court’s primary concern is always the child’s wellbeing.

The Best Interests of the Child: What Does It Really Mean

The best interests of the child” is a phrase often heard in child custody battles, but what does it mean? Essentially, it’s a legal standard that guides courts in making decisions that uphold the child’s well being above all else. This could include physical safety, emotional health, and educational needs, among other factors. For example, a stable home environment and consistent daily routine may be considered in the child’s best interest. Courts also consider the child’s relationships with parents and siblings, the child’s personal preferences (depending on their age and maturity), and any history of family violence or substance abuse. The goal is always to foster a healthy, loving environment for the child.

Parenting Skills: Are You Equipped for Full-Time Custody?

In child custody cases, the court assesses each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs, a factor often referred to as parenting skills. These skills go beyond basic care and include the capacity to provide a nurturing and supportive environment. The court looks at whether a parent is able to guide the child through life’s challenges, provide consistent discipline, and help with schoolwork, among other things. They also consider the parent’s ability to communicate effectively with the child and foster a positive relationship. A parent’s past involvement in the child’s life is often seen as a good indicator of future behavior. 

The Role of the Child’s Current Living Arrangements

When determining child custody, Louisiana courts place significant emphasis on maintaining stability in the child’s life. This often involves considering the child’s current living arrangements. Is the child accustomed to a certain school, neighborhood, or daily routine? Disrupting these elements could be detrimental to the child’s emotional wellbeing and development. The court will also look at the living conditions in each parent’s home. This can include the physical safety of the home, the presence of adequate sleeping arrangements, and the overall environment. If the court believes that changing the current living arrangements might cause unnecessary upheaval in the child’s life, they may be more inclined to keep things as they are.

Your Child’s Wishes: When and How Do They Matter?

In Louisiana, a child’s preferences in a custody dispute can carry weight, but how much influence they have depends on the child’s age and maturity. Generally, courts may consider the wishes of a child who is old enough to express an informed and reasonable preference. However, this doesn’t mean the child gets to decide. The court will still evaluate whether the child’s preference aligns with their best interests. For instance, a child may prefer one parent over the other due to lenient rules, but this might not serve the child’s overall wellbeing. Therefore, while a child’s wishes are considered, they are just one of many factors the court takes into account.

The Impact of Mental and Physical Health on Custody Decisions

When making custody decisions, Louisiana courts also take into account the mental and physical health of each parent. The court’s primary concern is the child’s wellbeing and safety. If one parent has a history of mental illness, substance abuse, or any condition that could potentially affect their ability to provide a stable and secure environment for the child, it may sway the court’s decision. Similarly, physical health plays a role in determining custody. A parent with a chronic illness or disability may need to demonstrate how they can effectively care for the child’s needs. The court carefully considers these factors to ensure the child’s overall welfare and stability in the custody arrangement.

The Importance of Parent-Child Relationship: A Key Factor in Custody Battles

The parent-child relationship plays a crucial role in child custody battles in Louisiana. Courts recognize the significance of fostering a healthy and meaningful bond between the child and each parent. Judges consider the level of involvement and emotional connection that each parent has with the child. Factors such as spending quality time together, participating in the child’s activities, and providing emotional support are taken into account. Courts typically prioritize arrangements that maintain and strengthen the parent-child relationship, as long as it is in the child’s best interests.

Dealing with Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence: How it Affects Custody

In child custody cases, Louisiana courts consider the presence of substance abuse or domestic violence issues very seriously. These factors significantly impact custody decisions. Courts prioritize the child’s safety and well-being above all else. If a parent has a history of substance abuse or has been involved in domestic violence incidents, the court may be hesitant to grant them custody or may require them to complete rehabilitation programs or counseling before considering custody arrangements

Geography and Its Impact: How Moving Can Influence Custody

Geography plays a significant role in child custody battles in Louisiana. When determining custody arrangements, courts consider the impact of moving on the child’s stability and continuity. If one parent plans to relocate to a distant location, it can disrupt the child’s routine, school attendance, and relationships with friends and extended family. The court evaluates the potential effects of the move on the child’s overall wellbeing. They may take into account the distance between the parents’ residences, transportation logistics, and the feasibility of maintaining consistent visitation schedules. In some cases, the court may need to modify custody arrangements or consider alternative solutions to ensure the child’s best interests are met when dealing with long-distance custody matters.

The Role of Parental Cooperation and Flexibility in Custody Cases

Child Custody Law

Parental cooperation and flexibility play a crucial role in child custody cases in Louisiana. Courts recognize the significance of parents working together in the best interests of their child. Demonstrating a willingness to collaborate, communicate effectively, and make joint decisions can positively influence custody outcomes. Being flexible with visitation schedules, accommodating changes when necessary, and fostering a positive co-parenting relationship can contribute to a stable and nurturing environment for the child. On the other hand, a lack of cooperation or an unwillingness to work together may raise concerns about the parent’s ability to prioritize the child’s needs. Courts value parents who demonstrate a genuine commitment to maintaining a healthy and cooperative approach in custody matters.

If you are dealing with a child custody case, call 504-523-6496 or contact our expert team for a free consultation. 

In a recent Fox News report, a woman shot three people, including the father of the child during a custody exchange. It is reported an argument erupted which turned physical when the mother pulled out a gun and shot at the three other adults. Such unfortunate occurrences confirm the need to include the courts in the child custody agreement. 

Custody disputes may arise due to various reasons such as marriage dissolution, guardianship, and paternity cases. Sometimes, one party involved in the child’s life may want to change the terms of a custody agreement. 

Types Of Child Custody

When parents decide to divorce or separate, they must resolve the issue of child custody and visitation arrangement. Fortunately, 90% of custody cases in the US are settled by parents, without a judge’s ruling. Custody matters determine who a child lives with most of the time (physical custody) and who makes decisions on issues that affect the child (legal custody). These major decisions include the child’s health care, education, religious upbringing, and daily concerns like dietary needs and social and school activities. 

The different custody arrangements refer to each parent’s decision-making authority regarding their child. Because the arrangements are tailored to the child’s best interests and needs, each custody agreement depends on the unique family requirements and circumstances. The forms of child custody arrangements are:

Joint Custody

Joint custody means that both parents spend equal time with the child and share decision-making power. This means that one parent cannot make a decision without the approval of the other. This arrangement works for highly cooperative parents who can jointly resolve matters about their child.

Sole Custody

In this arrangement, custody is granted to one parent, usually, one that lives with the child. Sole custody works better where one parent is best suited to make major decisions for the child. But this doesn’t necessarily prevent the other parent from having access to or visiting the child. Noncustodial parents with criminal records and a history of violence toward their child can be denied visitation rights or subject to supervised visitation.

Split Custody

Courts prefer to keep siblings together for comfort, stability, and support. However, in rare instances, the courts opt to split the siblings between the parents. As a result, each parent gets custody of one or some of the kids.  

Eligibility Of Child Custody in New Orleans

Besides parents, the law allows certain people with legitimate concerns about the welfare of a child to apply for custody. These non-parents include grandparents, stepparents, and other family members, especially those who have been in the child’s life.

There are also cases where agencies or other individuals have filed for custody of minors. They must prove that the child is in danger or the parents are unfit to properly care for the child.

Child Custody Filing Process in New Orleans

Child Custody Law

Usually, child custody and visitation agreements are voluntarily decided between the divorcing couple with the help of attorneys and mediators. But when they cannot agree on custody details, the court may intervene for the child’s best interests. 

The first step is to file for custody of the child. The parent alleges why they think they should have custody of the kids and not the other parent. 

Next, the parent who files for a petition or custody serves the petition to the other parent. 

The third step is for the receiving parent to answer the petition by opposing it or serving a countermotion. 

The parent who initiated the process receives the answer or countermotion, and the trial begins.  

A parent can try to work through this process without a lawyer. However, the legal process can be daunting, especially when the parent doesn’t know how the legal system works. This is why it is advisable to get a lawyer to help. 

Parents can also create their joint parenting plan and present it to the court. In most cases, the court will likely consider such an arrangement because it is something both parents find suitable. Still, courts rule based on the best interest of the child.

Tips On Gathering Evidence and Presenting Your Case in Court

Court appearances can be nerve-wracking, especially regarding the custody of a child. Parents should be as prepared as possible when determining a child’s future.  

When a parent feels that they are the best person to have full custody of their child, they should gather evidence to present to the court. Here are a few tips that increase your chances of winning a custody case in New Orleans.

  • Keep a visitation log. As you prepare for the court case, keep an entry of all visitations to the child. Note the instance when visitation or a drop-off was late. It is also essential to keep a log of how much time the parent spends with the child. 
  • Take pictures. Photographic evidence in court is crucial and can tip the case in favor of one parent. Instead of a parent telling the court about their good times with the kids, it is better to show pictures. Pictures are powerful in showing the bond between children and their parents. 
  • Get witnesses. Parents can add weight to their evidence by getting people to testify in court. A witness who can give a firsthand account of how great a parent is may help to sway a judge’s decision in favor of the parent. Such witnesses can be family members, relatives, neighbors, or even teachers at school. 
  • A parent can also approach an expert to be their witness in court. An expert such as a psychologist can explain the effects of letting a child stay with one parent instead of the other. If staying with a certain parent has a better impact on the child, then the judge will likely give that parent custody. 

Child custody cases are governed by complex laws and involve a lot of preparation and paperwork. Retaining an experienced family law attorney gives a parent in a custody dispute a better chance of getting a favorable outcome. If you are dealing with a child custody case, contact Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, LLC at 504-523-6496 or fill out our online contact form to request an initial consultation.

Last summer, new legislation was authored allowing pregnant mothers to collect child support while the child is still in her womb. Louisiana Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) and North Dakota Senator Kevin Kramer (R-ND) introduced the bicameral bill (H.R. 8362), calling it the Unborn Child Support Act.

The legislation echoes already established laws, but it amends the previous verbiage to add the word “unborn” to children. It also includes rules on establishing child support eligibility and how to handle support that would begin within the first month of conception.

The text of the Unborn Child Support Act puts the responsibility of establishing child support payments solely on the court if the mother provides consent, and consent is not required if determining paternity presents any threat or danger to either mother or their unborn child.

The conservative lawmakers who authored the bill have made previous statements regarding life beginning at conception, and they are emphatic that passing this bill into federal law would solidify this sentiment.

Paternity Law in Louisiana

When an unwed mother gives birth, that child does not necessarily have a legal Father. A paternity action through the court is often needed to establish a father’s identity. Louisiana law’s current definition of paternity is simple. A father is determined by either biological results through scientific tests or by the act of being a father.

Paternity is often agreed upon by all parties, but occasionally, paternity is contested. When this happens, there are two ways to establish paternity, including:

  1. The alleged father can acknowledge their paternity or parentage
  2. A paternity proceeding through family court   

Paternity Proceedings are also relatively straightforward. These proceedings can be initiated by the mother, the child, the alleged Father, or the Child Support Division of the State to settle petitions and complaints. 

Paternity Tests in Louisiana

Paternity Test Law

Most state courts can order paternity testing. Testing may be ordered for all the proceeding’s participants—father, mother, and child. Advancements in science have made paternity testing more accurate and reliable. Because there are more DNA test centers, testing is easier to conduct and more affordable. 

There are two types of tests that may be conducted:

  1. DNA Genetic Identity tests 
  2. Swab tests

To identify a father, the Louisiana courts need a DNA-based paternity test with at least a 99.9% probability. The test must have been created in an accepted DNA testing laboratory. These positive DNA tests create a legal determination known as a rebuttable presumption, which means the test results will be recognized as truth unless someone can offer enough evidence to disprove the court’s finding.

In most cases, fathers pay for a positive test, and mothers pay if the test returns negative. 

Who pays for the tests may be agreed to by the parties involved or the courts before the tests are administered.

Routinely, these proceedings lead to a resolution of disputes regarding custody and child support. If the parties can find common ground on custody, child support, and visitation, then sign an agreement addressing these issues, the court usually takes these documents into account while making a ruling. Paternity proceedings are often settled before a trial.

But paternity proceedings can get tricky. Often, attorneys represent all involved parties. This typically occurs when one or all the parties disagree on paternity, custody, and child support. They can differ on these issues individually, or they cannot be able to settle on an agreement regarding all three.

More often, custody goes to the mothers. However, depending on certain circumstances, fathers with proven parentage can also be awarded custody of the child. Agreements can be drawn up, signed by all parties, and approved by the court.   

Child Support in a paternity action is governed by the same rules seen in divorce proceedings. Fathers or mothers may be ordered to pay child support to the other. In a lot of cases, courts will award back child support or any child support dating to the child’s birth, or a designated number of years.

The issue of visitation is handled much like custody or child support. Often, the court respects and upholds visitation plans that are agreed upon and signed by all parties. But if an agreement cannot be reached, the parties can petition the court to request visitation rights.

Why Establishing Paternity is Important

If a child is born to a married couple, the typical presumption is that the husband is the child’s biological father or Putative Father. DNA Identity testing can overturn this presumption and lead to an Affidavit of Denial of Paternity where both parents agree the Husband is not the child’s father.

A negative DNA Identity test provided to the court can reverse the putative father designation. This would relieve the presumptive or alleged father from any custody or child support obligations.  

Just as important is establishing parentage and offering a child a full identity from both biological parents. It can also resolve questions children or parents may have about a child’s identity. Determining paternity can provide a full health history of both parents, giving complete information that may be needed when the child needs medical treatment.         

Children deserve to receive support from both parents. Even when emotional support cannot be guaranteed, a child should not be denied financial support or any benefits paternity might supply to dependents. These may include:

  • Health insurance
  • Inheritance
  • Social security
  • Veteran’s benefits.

Establishing paternity also allows the parents to seek various forms of public assistance if it is needed and they qualify. In addition, the child may get their father’s name listed on their birth certificate, or the child’s name may be changed on their birth certificate if the court orders that the document should reflect the changes.

A parent may petition to establish paternity before the child reaches Louisiana’s “Age of Majority,” which is 18 years old. A child can also file an action for paternity, and they have up to five years after they reach the age of majority to seek the establishment of paternity. According to the Supreme Court of the United States, it is unconstitutional to limit the rights of a child to file for paternity.

Contact Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, L.L.C. today, or call our law office at 504-523-6496.

Getting Child Support After the Paying Parent Leaves Louisiana 

In the decades since Hurricane Katrina, a strange phenomenon has happened—climate change migration. People migrated, first inland and then out of state, looking for work or a safer place to call home. The population of New Orleans is still more than 60,000 fewer citizens than pre-Katrina. 

Every time a new storm washes over the Gulf Coast, hordes of Louisianians run further from the rising tides and higher to escape the floods.

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) compiled data from a list of variables to report the best and worst states concerning climate change. Louisiana ranked the third worst. The analyzed data consisted of five factors: 

  1. Climate change preparedness
  2. Drought
  3. Extreme heat
  4. Flooding
  5. Wildfires

Louisiana had the highest risk of flooding and the most extreme heat risks in the country. Families and individuals are migrating to less risky parishes and states where they can live without the constant fear of losing their home or a loved one because of the runaway conditions of the climate. 

Living in a climate crisis can also put a strain on families. The one constant in marriage is divorce, with the 50% divorce rate holding for the last two decades. And even though Louisiana’s divorce rate is one of the lowest in the country, there are still more than 335,000 divorced people living in the state, and in 2022, more than 28,000 Americans were added to the divorce statistics.  

The faces these numbers represent are Louisiana’s children. These kids are left choosing where they want to live or feeling left behind. According to 2019’s American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, divorced parents with child support agreements receive less than half of the full amount of child support owed.

Collecting this child support gets even harder when the non-custodial parent takes off and moves across state lines. 

Defining the Interstate Obligation

Whether it is a separation or a divorce, there is no such thing as a parent migrating away from their responsibility of parenthood. Whether a non-custodial parent moves across the street or across the country, parents have an obligation to ensure their children have what they need to feel supported during this transition.

Often, when a non-custodial parent moves out of state, child support payments tend to get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes, the parents run into financial hardships. Sometimes, they do not think the child support agreement is fair. Other times, they just refuse to make the required payments. 

But if the traffic of interstate child support payments come to a standstill, there is a recourse to get things moving again.

Remedying a Runaway Parent  

A family court judge can enforce an existing child support order across state lines, but for a judge to enforce an agreement or hold a parent in contempt, a court order needs to be filed in the state where the child lives.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) was established to help custodial parents find delinquent parents in other states. Every state has a version of this law. All of them essentially serve the same purpose—enforcing child support obligations against a delinquent parent who lives in a different state than where the court order originated. 

In other words, the UIFSA tracks down deadbeat parents. They communicate the consequences of non-payment and hold the negligent parties accountable. It also eliminates confusion by allowing custodial parents to use state services as an intermediary for recovering payments without creating multiple orders.

Under Louisiana law, the state will work in concert with the delinquent parent’s state of residency and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to collect payments.

It is also unlawful in Louisiana if a parent has not paid support for more than six months, or if they owe more than $2,500. If a parent leaves the state and withholds their location to hide from their debts, the first steps in holding these parents accountable include: 

  • Inquiring with friends and relatives to discover the non-paying parent’s address 
  • Enlisting a private investigator to locate them   
  • Utilizing the services of the local Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA)

The DCSS has multiple agencies at their disposal to find state-hopping parents. The DCSS can tell when they apply for a job or government assistance, secure a home, or run their credit card. 

After non-custodial parents are found, the DCSS has several tools to recover child support orders, including: 

  • Deducting or garnishing wages 
  • Intercepting federal income tax refunds 
  • Suspending driver’s licenses
  • Restricting or denying passport renewals
  • Charging with contempt of court

Ramping Up the Stakes

The criminal laws of Louisiana addressing unpaid child support orders are often referred to as the “Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act.” If a financial hardship is to blame for nonpayment, criminal charges are rarely involved, and orders can be modified to compensate.

But if it becomes a case of nonsupport due to a parent’s refusal, criminal charges may be in order. A parent can be prosecuted and face the following penalties: 

  • The first offense for failure to pay a legal child support order is a fine of up to $500 or up to six months in jail, or both.
  • The second offense is a fine of up to $2,500 or up to two years of imprisonment, with or without hard labor, or both.
  • If failing to pay a child support obligation result in an outstanding amount that exceeds $15,000 and has existed for at least a year, the penalty is of up to $25,000 or up to two years of imprisonment, with or without hard labor, or both.
  • Any conviction will result in court-ordered restitution for the total unpaid support at the time of sentencing. If restitution is paid before sentencing, the court can suspend some or all of the penalties. 

If criminally charged for felony nonsupport, a negligent parent can be arrested and extradited back to the state where the child support order originated. These safeguards are in place to ensure a child gets the support they need. Usually, the process involves multiple agencies and may take time. Patience is the key. 

Securing parenting time with children can be crucial after the dissolution of a marriage. For the meaningful bonds of a parental relationship to continue to strengthen and grow, quality family time needs to be prioritized when deciding child custody.

In all instances, a child’s safety and welfare should be put first. This principle appears to have been forgotten in a recent custody case in the family courts of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. 

In March, Ponchatoula’a John Barnes was granted full custody of his 15-year-old daughter by Judge Jeffrey Cashe. Not only did Barnes receive sole custody of the teenager, but in addition, the girl’s mother, Crysta Abelseth, was ordered to pay him child support.

This is where the case begins to twist: Abelseth, now 32 years old, has accused 46-year-old Barnes of raping her when she was 16 and he was 30. Her pregnancy and the resulting child were a product of sexual assault. 

How Did This Happen?

Barnes calls Abelseth’s accusation “absolutely, unequivocally false.” He claims he met her in a bar in Hammond in late 2005, that she had a fake ID and posed as a college student. He claims they had drinks and consensual sex, and he was unaware that she was under 17. Louisiana’s age of consent is 17.

Even if the two engaged in consensual sex, the encounter would still be defined as statutory rape.

Abelseth involved the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2015, filing a complaint against Barnes for the 2005 assault. 

Her statement also relates that she and Barnes had been drinking at the bar, and he offered to give her a ride home, but instead, he drove her back to his home in Ponchatoula. She alleges that she woke up nude on Barnes’ bathroom floor. She says she was unable to give consent because she was unconscious during the encounter.

Her statement went on to detail Barnes threatening to seek full custody of her child if she reported the assault or sought criminal charges against him. Barnes owns and operates Gumbeaux Digital Branding, an internet marketing company which has the Ponchatoula Police as a client.

Although the sheriff’s office says Abelseth’s complaint is an active case, it did not get assigned to a detective until 2022, and court records show a statement from the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office claiming they “dropped the ball” and never effectively managed the investigation of Abelseth’s allegation.

Abelseth claims she was afraid to file a complaint at first, and then she was unaware she still had legal recourse. She initially thought rape victims only had 24 hours after an assault to file a report. After she learned the statute of limitations for rape, she went to the police.

A Decade of Indecisive Decisions 

This custody battle began in 2011. After Barnes discovered he might be the child’s father, he took Abelseth to court. DNA tests confirmed Barnes was the biological father, and he was awarded shared custody.

In 2015, Barnes sued for sole custody, accusing Abelseth of allowing men to stay overnight while their daughter was home, claiming an unhealthy environment because “She had three husbands in six years.”

In August 2015, Judge Cashe began presiding over the case. He handed down a split-custody agreement and ordered Abelseth to pay Barnes $78.41 monthly. In 2017, the amount increased to $117.72.

Abelseth made a motion to limit Barnes’ custody. The motion was denied.

In December 2020, Barnes requested the court expand his custody, accusing Abelseth of being an irresponsible parent for allowing their daughter to have another phone after her previous phone allegedly contained inappropriate pictures and videos. Cashe forbade the child from having a cell phone. 

In early 2022, Abelseth was accused of allowing her daughter to have another phone. She was held in contempt and ordered to pay $500. She says these allegations are false.

In March, Cashe heard the allegations against Barnes being verbally, physically, and sexually abusive to a child. Abelseth requested full custody, but the judge disregarded the abuse accusation, citing that Barnes had never been criminally charged and asserting a lack of evidence to support the abuse claim.

A few days later, Barnes claimed Abelseth gave their daughter another phone, and he filed for full custody. The same day, Cashe granted Barnes full custody.

Barnes states he just wants the best for his daughter and to “keep her on the right track” so she can accomplish her goal of becoming a nurse.

Abelseth tried to handle the issue through the courts, but after losing custody due to dubious cell phone allegations, she has lost confidence for a fair and just outcome. She says Barnes has threatened her multiple times and claims his threats have teeth because “he has connections in the justice system.” She says Barnes told her he could “take her away anytime he wants to. I didn’t believe him until it happened.”

In June, after Abelseth’s rape accusation and its mismanaged investigation became known by the media, it prompted public outcries for a reversal. Feeling the pressure, Judge Cashe revoked Barnes’ favorable ruling. A separate attorney was appointed to their daughter. A third-party guardian was awarded physical custody. Abelseth and Barnes will alternate weekend visits.

The twists will continue this summer as this ugly custody battle sees future hearings.

The Way It Should Be

Louisiana’s child custody laws concentrate on one principle: what decision protects a child’s best interests. Proposed custody arrangements should be approached by focusing on this principle with respect to existing relationships.

There are times when parents cannot amicably agree on custody, and the courts become decision-makers. To weigh custody, courts should fairly examine several influencing factors, including:  

  • Parent morality and the effects of a parent’s actions on the child
  • Relationships between a child and each parent 
  • Parents’ capability to provide necessities like food, clothing, and healthcare 
  • Each parent’s physical and mental status
  • The stability of a child’s home and school
  • How each parent supplies for a child’s emotional, mental, physical, and social needs
  • The child’s preference
  • Each parent’s respect for the other’s continuing relationship with the child
  • The child’s adjustment to new homes or environments 
  • The distance between each parent’s residence

Custody can be overseen by adjudicators without vicious battles that leave families in rubble, having to clean up the mess before they can move on.

Custody issues for unmarried parents differ significantly from parents legally married. Navigating family laws regarding such topics as custody, visitation, and support is an overwhelming process. A Louisiana family law attorney can help you with your case. An initial consultation is an important first step toward resolving matters involving your child.

Unmarried Fathers and Child Custody

One key difference between married and unmarried parents is that of child custody. For married couples, parenting rights are equal and immediate at the time of birth. For unmarried parents, all rights belong to the mother. Unmarried fathers have no legal rights to custody or visitation.

Fighting for the right to see your child is possible with the help of a Louisiana lawyer. At the core of custody issues is the matter of paternity. There are several types of paternity:

  • Putative father: A man who is alleged to be the child’s biological father but whose legal paternity has not been established.
  • Alleged father: A man who alleges to be the biological father but whose legal paternity has not been established.
  • Acknowledged father: A man who acknowledges paternity by signing an acknowledgment of paternity.
  • Adjudicated father: A man who has been adjudicated by the court to be the father.
  • Presumed father: A man who is recognized as the child’s father until the status is rebutted or proven in court.

Establishing paternity is typically done at the time of birth. However, if this was not done for your child, a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form is available for the paternity process.

Until paternity is legally determined, a father has no rights, including visitation or important child care decisions.

The Rights of Unmarried Mothers

Unmarried mothers have immediate rights upon the birth of the child:

  • Where to send the child to school
  • When and where they receive medical care
  • The right to relocate with the child

These are just a few examples of the types of rights mothers possess that unmarried fathers have no right to contest. Unfortunately, discovering that you have no rights until establishing paternity can cause anxiety and confusion.

A family law attorney can explain the process and stand by you as you pursue your right to see your child. An attorney can help you prepare the following information for your case:

  • Finances
  • Residency
  • The moral character of each parent

The establishment of paternity is first. If you are unsure where to start your custodial journey, consider an initial case evaluation with a family law attorney today.

Child Support and Unmarried Parents

Paternity is at the core of issues involving child support. Even noncustodial parents must pay child support until the child finishes high school or reaches the age of 19.

The mother must establish paternity to pursue child support. A father may comply voluntarily, or the mother can file a lawsuit demanding DNA testing. Once paternity is established, the amount set by the family law court depends upon various factors, including the father’s income.

Court-ordered child support is a serious matter that parents must follow. Failure to comply with the court can result in garnished wages and possible jail time.

Child support is generally a given outcome of paternity testing; however, it does not include custody or visitation rights. To learn more about child support and child custody issues, seek help from a Louisiana family law attorney.

When to Seek Legal Help With Your Child Custody Case

Child custody issues are highly emotional, regardless if you are unmarried or facing a divorce. Therefore, the moment you foresee an issue with paternity, custody, visitation, support, or other issues is the moment you should contact a family law attorney.

Issues involving child custody are generally complex, making it imperative to discuss your case with a lawyer soon. In addition, if your unmarried custody issue involves a child living in another state or internationally, the process is even more challenging.

Mediation is sometimes an option for resolving child custody cases. However, if mediation is not a possibility or successful, proceeding to court requires careful preparation.

Seeking legal help for your child custody case can afford you peace of mind. A family law attorney understands the legal process and can manage the details of your case — allowing you more time to focus on your daily tasks.

Protecting Your Best Interests as an Unmarried Parent

A child custody issue is a stressful experience as you await paternity tests results and court dates. However, as an unmarried parent, pursuing custody and visitation rights is easier with a family law attorney by our side.

Protecting your best interests now can intentionally benefit you later. While there is no way to determine the outcome of your case, fighting for the best outcome possible now means obtaining representation that understands family law.

If you are an unmarried father, you must fight for your rights. Earning the right to see your child is where the law office of Stephenson, Chavarri, & Dawson, LLC can help you.

Contact Stephenson, Chavarri, & Dawson, LLC Today

At Stephenson, Chavarri, & Dawson, LLC, we put our experience to work for clients seeking child custody. A diverse and multi-lingual firm, we aim to serve the needs of parents in the New Orleans region, throughout Louisiana, and beyond.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly one-quarter of all children in America live with one parent. If you desire a relationship with your child and you are unmarried, we can help you.

Family law courts place great emphasis on doing what is best for the child. As family law attorneys, we help unmarried parents fight for their right to help raise the child in a healthy and happy way.

Time is of the essence. Take the first step toward a possible relationship with your child by contacting us today. Contact us online or call 504-523-6496 today for help with your unmarried custodial rights.

Domestic violence has a profound effect on everyone involved.  Children who live with domestic violence are at risk for both physical and psychological harm. A little more than half of the women who are victims of domestic violence have children under age 12 living with them. According to the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, every 9 seconds, a woman becomes a victim of domestic violence. Approximately 3.3 million children witness such incidents each year, and many of them also become victims.

An overview of child custody

When one partner ends a relationship or files for divorce, domestic violence is often involved. If children are involved, child custody becomes an issue. In Louisiana custody cases, the court determines “legal custody,” which refers to the right a parent has to make important decisions such as those concerning healthcare, education, and religion. The other type of custody, “physical custody,” determines which parent the child resides with and what visitation the child has with his or her parents. The court may award custody to the parents jointly or sole custody to a single parent. In some cases, child custody is uncontested, and the arrangement is defined in an agreement between the parents. If custody is disputed, it will be resolved by court order.  Either way, the arrangement determines where the child lives (physical custody), who is responsible for parenting decisions (legal custody), and terms of visitation.

The law focuses on the “best interests of the child.” This means that all custody and visitation discussions and decisions are made with the ultimate goal of ensuring the child’s well-being and safety.  There are many factors to consider when making this determination. Relevant factors may include:

  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • Each parent’s ability to fulfill the child’s emotional needs and provide spiritual and educational guidance
  • Each parent’s ability to provide the child with food, clothing, healthcare, and other necessities, based on the child’s individual needs
  • How long the child has lived in their current home or community
  • The stability of parents’ homes
  • How far apart the parent’s homes are from one another
  • Each parent’s physical and psychological health
  • When appropriate, the judge may consider the child’s wishes
  • Each parent’s willingness to foster a healthy relationship between the child and another parent
  • What childcare tasks have each parent performed in the past
  • The moral standards of each parent
  • Whether there is any history of domestic violence.

How does the law define domestic violence?

Under Louisiana law, domestic violence is physical or sexual abuse between family members, those living in the same household, and current or past intimate partners. Domestic violence includes physical or sexual abuse between persons who are or used to be family members, those who are or have been cohabitating, or current or past intimate partners.

Family violence includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Sexual abuse; and
  • Any Louisiana criminal offense committed by one parent against the other parent or any of their children.

The impact of domestic violence on custody cases

Louisiana judges take domestic violence allegations very seriously. Therefore, a history of domestic violence will strongly influence the judge’s decision over child custody and visitation. In some cases, the court will grant joint custody. However, if clear and convincing evidence shows that sole custody of one parent is in the best interests of the child, the court will do that. In these critical, hotly contested proceedings, it is best for both parties to be represented by attorneys. However, in some circumstances, the court will hire an attorney, known as a guardian ad litem, to represent the child. This person investigates the family circumstances and recommends what custody and visitation arrangements would be in the best interests of the child.

If an incident of domestic violence led to a serious injury, or if there is more than one incident, the courts will carefully consider evidence of domestic violence. If the court determines that a parent who has been accused of domestic violence is a threat to the child or the child’s other parent, they may deny custody to the accused parent.  In Louisiana, judges start with the presumption that a parent who has committed domestic violence should not receive custody of a child. Each parent must notify the court if the other parent has a history or pending proceedings regarding domestic violence, termination of parental rights, or protective orders.

Domestic violence and visitation rights

In addition to child custody determinations, domestic violence also impacts visitation rights. The court may decide to revise an existing visitation order, issue a restraining order or order of protection, order supervised visitation, or revoke the alleged perpetrator’s visitation rights. In addition, the court may order the accused parent to undergo a medical evaluation, attend anger management counseling, complete a domestic violence treatment program, or attend parenting classes before granting visitation.

In cases of extreme abuse, neglect, or death, Louisiana courts may terminate an individual’s parental rights.

Evidence of domestic violence commonly considered in court

Custody disputes often involve conflicting and highly emotional testimony. The judge must weigh all the evidence in order to decide who will spend time with the child and under what circumstances. The court typically considers:

  • The severity of the violence and how frequently it occurred
  • Whether the child was affected, either directly or indirectly, by the alleged instances of domestic violence
  • Whether person accused of domestic violence continues to pose a danger to the child or to the other parent
  • Whether there’s a pending criminal case against the accused
  • Physical evidence of abuse, such as photos or medical records
  • Police reports or 911 calls documenting incidents of alleged abuse

If both parents have a history of domestic violence, the court decides which parent is less likely than the other to commit domestic violence in the future. However, before the court awards an allegedly abusive parent custody or visitation, the parent must prove that the requested visitation or custody is in the best interests of the child. Typically, a parent must enter and complete a domestic violence treatment program and abstain from alcohol or drug use.

In all child custody cases involving domestic violence, the court may issue a protective order, such as a “Uniform Abuse Prevention Order,” or approve any consent agreement to end domestic violence. There are serious consequences of violation of an abuse prevention order, such as possible loss of all visitation privileges.

Usually, the court will not permit visitation if the parent has sexually abused his or her children. In this case, the court may allow supervised visitation if they believe it is in the child’s best interests and the abusive parent has completed a program for sexual abusers. When the child is conceived as the result of a rape, the court will not grant visitation to a parent who is the convicted rapist.

You are not alone

Domestic violence is devastating for everyone, but especially for children. There are many resources available for victims of domestic violence, such as the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  Whether you are a victim of domestic violence or have been falsely accused of domestic violence, you need the help of an experienced, dedicated family law attorney to protect your rights and protect your children. For more information, or to schedule a case evaluation, call Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson at 504-523-6496 or contact us online.

Divorce is an emotional process, especially when children are involved. Some couples split amicably and have an easy time dealing with custody issues. In other divorces, coming to an agreeable custody arrangement involves continued fighting, sometimes leaving decisions up to the court. Regardless of the child custody order from your divorce, life circumstances change. For some, this means updating a child custody agreement so it continues to serve the best interest of the children. In these cases, you have the right to file for a modification to your child custody order. Below, we offer more information about Louisiana child custody orders and the circumstances in which you could get them modified.

Types of Child Custody Orders

Not all custody orders emerge from divorce, and not all of them are voluntary. The broadest distinction between custody orders in Louisiana is whether an order was a consent decree or a considered decree. The requirements you must fulfill to request a child custody modification depend on the type of order. Consent decrees result from an agreement by both parents. If you have a consent-based child custody order, you can request a modification if you have a significant change in circumstances. Judges issue a considered decree after they hear evidence and testimony. You will find these orders are far more difficult to change.

Bergeron Standard in Louisiana Child Custody Modification Cases

In 1986, the Louisiana Supreme Court held in Bergeron v. Bergeron that the person seeking modification of a child support order had a heavy burden of proof when the initial order was a considered decree. If you are seeking modification of a considered decree, you must show clear and convincing evidence that the benefit of changing the order far outweighs the damages the child could suffer from the change.

Regardless of the type of custody order you have, you still cannot simply decide one day that you want to change it. You must have a reason and a really serious reason if you wish to change a considered decree.

Situations that Call for a Child Custody Modification

Some scenarios or life changes that could serve as grounds for a Louisiana child custody modification include the following:


Depending on whether you have shared or full custody, moving might require a child custody modification. Sometimes people need to move for work, but others sometimes move because of financial hardship or a new personal relationship. Regardless of the reason for moving, a court might need to approve relocating a child and will thoroughly examine the situation to make sure the change is in the best interest of the child or children.

Non-compliance with the Current Decree

If the other parent is not complying with the terms of custody and visitation schedule outlined in your custody agreement, you have grounds to request a child custody modification. Depending on the situation and the extent to which the other parent has cooperated, you might seek full custody and/or a change in the visitation schedule.

Child Endangerment

If your child or children are in immediate danger, you can petition the court for a temporary custody order until you can go in front of a judge and present evidence to permanently change your custody order. If the other parent has sexually, physically, and/or emotionally abused your child or children, you have grounds for a custody modification. Similarly, if the other parent continuously puts your child in harm’s way, you can also petition the court to change the order to protect your child from the abuse.

Changing Needs of a Growing Child

If you can show that your child has different needs that make your home a more suitable environment, a judge might modify your custody decree. Babies, toddlers, and teenagers have various needs that one parent might meet better at certain times of their life.

Changed Marital Status

If either you or the other parent gets married again, it might lead to a request for a child custody modification. Changed marital status sometimes comes with a variety of the reasons for modifications mentioned above. Someone might want to move out of state, or a new step-parent is abusive. Sometimes a new spouse helps an unengaged parent take a more active role, too.

Active Military Duty

If you have a joint custody agreement with the other parent, you have cause to request a modification if he or she gets deployed for active-duty military duty. In these cases, a court might put a temporary order in place for the duration of the military deployment.

Death of the Custodial Parent

If you are the non-custodial parent and the other parent dies, you do not automatically get full custody. You will have to request a child custody modification. Louisiana, like every other state, wants to keep a child with their parents. Yet, some situations warrant that another family member or close friend get custody of a child after a death.

Get the Help You Need to Modify Your Louisiana Child Custody Order

Even though you might have a valid and convincing reason to modify your child custody order, it does not always mean a judge will grant your request. The likelihood of modifying your decree depends on your situation and the needs of your children. It’s best to have an attorney guide you through the process to build a strong case for your modification and help you fight for the outcome you desire.

The skilled legal team at Stephenson, Chavarri & Dawson, L.L.C., has extensive experience helping clients in the Greater New Orleans area with child custody modifications. These requests can lead to emotionally-charged arguments and increased tension between parents, sometimes negatively impacting kids. Our family lawyers care about you and your children and want to help you get the best outcome for your situation. Yet, we can help take the emotion out of the process and remain objective to fight for your request.

Contact us today online or at 504-523-6496 to learn more about how we can help you with your Louisiana child custody modification.

If you are going through a divorce, you already know the emotional strain the process can have on a person. Family court cases are almost never easy. When there are children involved, the process becomes exponentially harder. As a parent, you’re used to seeing your child whenever you want. Now, your rights are in the hands of the court. 

In an ideal world, you and your spouse will come to an agreement that allows both parents to be an active part of the child’s life. But when you and your spouse cannot agree, the judge gets the final say. And while the court favors joint custody, they only get a small snapshot into your world. If you have recently lost custody of your children, it can feel like a devastating blow. The good news is, there are things you can do to remain an active part of your child’s life. 

Understanding your custody agreement

When it comes to custody cases, there are two types of custody the court considers; physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the child’s residential schedule, whereas legal custody outlines which parent has the final say in regard to major decision making, including medical care, education, and religion. 

If the court awards the other parent primary physical custody, in most cases, you will still receive regular parenting time. This schedule is usually dependent on the child’s age, their schedule, and the physical proximity between both parents. If you have questions about the terms of the agreement, make sure you talk to your attorney before you sign anything. 

What to do after you lose your child custody case

The first thing to understand is courts very rarely overturn custody cases. Stability and predictability are important, particularly with young children. In most cases, you must demonstrate a substantial change of circumstances, typically relating to the other parent’s ability to parent the child for the court to even consider a change in custody. Instead of looking for ways to overturn the custody agreement, you’ll often see better results if you focus on ways to maximize your time and improve your relationship with the other parent. Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Be consistent

No matter what the custody arrangement is, children need to know both parents are there for them. That’s why it’s so important to exercise all parenting time. Keep a calendar of your time and make sure you are there for every visit. If you need to make a change to the current schedule, reach out to the other parent to see if they would be willing to exchange time. 

2. Understand why you lost custody

Louisiana has a presumption for legal custody. This means, they typically only award sole custody if joint custody is not in the best interest of the child. Take a close look at why you lost custody. Do you have a stable home life? Is there a drug or alcohol problem? Do you work long hours or are you frequently out of town? Focus on where you can make changes. It may be hard and you may need to make dramatic changes in the end, but the rewards can be great.

3. Be involved

Unless specifically spelled out in your custody agreement, there is nothing saying you can’t attend your child’s extracurricular activities, even when they fall on the other parent’s time. Practices, games, and performances are a great way to support your child. If you are not sure when these events are, the school or your child’s coach may be able to provide you with a schedule. Even if you just get a hug or a quick wave goodbye before you leave, just being there can mean the world. 

4. Try to work on your relationship with your ex

For many divorced parents, this one may sound easier said than done. But it’s important to have a cordial, if not friendly relationship with your child’s other parent. Not only will your child benefit from seeing their parents get along, but you may see some extra benefits as well. If you maintain an open relationship with your ex, they may be more likely to inform you of special events or even offer extra time. Be friendly, don’t hide important information about your child, and most importantly, choose your battles wisely. 

Your current custody agreement doesn’t have to be final

While courts are reluctant to overturn custody orders, that doesn’t mean you can’t make changes to your current custody agreement. Changes in parenting time are much easier to attain than changes in custody. Your chances increase dramatically if the other parent agrees to your requested changes. 

To modify your current custody agreement, you need to file a motion with the court. If you and your ex have come to an agreement, the judge will likely sign off on the terms. While an out-of-court agreement may seem like enough to go on, if things change between you and your ex, you have no means to enforce your new parenting plan. 

Don’t leave your future to chance. Bring in someone you can trust.

The relationship between a parent and a child is precious. At Stephenson, Chavarri & Dawson, L.L.C., we understand this. Unfortunately, when you go in front of a judge, it’s difficult for them to see the full picture. That’s why it’s so important to have someone by your side who can guide you through the process and help connect you with professionals that can help your case. We understand the emotional strains of a child custody case and fight aggressively to help our clients achieve the outcome they deserve.  Remember, you are not alone in this. We can help. If you have lost a child custody case and are not sure what comes next, we want to help. Contact the offices of Stephenson, Chavarri & Dawson, L.L.C. at 504-523-6496, or fill out our online contact request to schedule your initial consultation. 


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