As a Louisiana couple moves forward with a divorce, children are often the biggest concerns they will have. Even in cases where both sides wanted custody of children, it is crucial to put all the hostilities aside once the court has made its decision as to where the child will reside. In general, one parent will be granted child custody. The other parent will receive visitation rights. Other family members can also receive visitation rights in certain circumstances. Understanding the law is essential.
The visitation rights must be in the child’s best interest. Along with the noncustodial parent, the following people can receive visitation rights: a grandparent if it is determined to be in the child’s best interest; and, if there are extraordinary circumstances, other relatives whether it is through blood or affinity or it is a former stepparent or step-grandparent. The key is whether it is in the best interest of the child. Included in the decision as to whether the “extraordinary circumstances” threshold is met is if a parent has a substance abuse problem.
The best interest of the child will include the following and nothing else: the parent’s rights to decide on the child’s and who cares for him or her; the scope of the relationship between the child and the relative who wants visitation rights; if the child needs guidance and other help from the relative; how the child feels about visitation if the child is old enough to express a preference; and the health of the child and relative.
Because many divorces are contentious and the parties will have lingering issues that were not settled with the end of the marriage, it is important to have a grasp of how visitation rights are handled so there will be a guideline and as little disagreement as possible. Even in cases where the parties are on amicable terms, it is a wise step to have a visitation agreement. When visitation is in dispute or there are concerns about who would like to have visitation with the child, it is always a smart decision to have legal assistance from a law firm that specializes in family law, divorce, child custody and visitation rights.