Child Custody & Visitation
In most cases, parents want what is best for their children. Whether you are living together or are separated, the devil is always in the details. What one parent believes is “best” may not be what the other parent believes is the “best” quality to encourage in their children.
Parents who can still work amicably together can structure their own arrangement for the court to review and approve. But if they cannot agree, a judge will decide how best to protect the interests of the children. It is helpful to have a lawyer assist you even if you and your spouse agree on how you would like things to be done. It is critical to have representation if custody is going to be litigated.
Mr. Cosenza understands the balance that parties must strike between the best interests of their children and their own interests. He has many years of experience helping parents establish agreements regarding primary physical custody, joint custody, and visitation. As an experienced litigator, he will make your case to the court if no agreement can be reached.Negotiating a Child Custody Agreement
Mr. Cosenza has many years of experience negotiating child custody agreements on behalf of his clients. He’s also litigated many custody cases. He knows that once you enter a courtroom and hand the decision about your children’s custody to the Judge, you no longer have any control over the outcome. Judges only see you and your opponent for a few hours or a few days. It is impossible for them to know everything that has occurred during the life of your relationship and the lives of your children. You and your spouse or partner, however, have the benefit of all of that knowledge.
Whenever possible and appropriate, we will work with you to reach a mutually acceptable agreement with your former spouse or partner that helps to raise the children in ways that you both can agree upon.
Our firm has developed and gained judicial approval of numerous custody implementation plans. We will help you develop a plan that achieves your goals for your children’s futures. You may have a plan already in place that no longer works because circumstances have changed. Mr. Cosenza can advise you concerning whether the facts support modifying the existing custody and visitation arrangements. If a change is indicated, he will work with you and the courts to modify your child custody agreement.
Joint custody is the default rule in Louisiana. In other words, joint custody is assumed to be in all children’s best interests unless evidence compels the contrary conclusion. The success of a joint custody arrangement depends on good planning and good will. You can rely on Louis Cosenza to thoughtfully analyze your goals and your children’s best interests in order to help you vigorously pursue the custodial arrangement that works best for you.
In cases of child abuse or domestic violence, or if a parent suffers from drug or alcohol addiction, you may wish to pursue sole custody. In such a case, you must be prepared to offer evidence to overcome the law’s preference for the regular, active participation of both parents in their children’s lives. Mr. Cosenza can assist you in evaluating the evidence that you have and using it to your advantage during negotiations. If a trial is necessary, he will vigorously present your evidence to the court.
In Louisiana, there are two types of legal custody – sole and joint:
- Sole Custody
In this situation, one parent has both physical custody and all of the decision-making authority. Generally, the other parent has only reasonable visitation. This visitation may be limited and in certain circumstances may be supervised.
- Joint Custody
In this situation, although one parent is designated the primary decision-maker, he or she must consider the other parent’s concerns before making major decisions. Physical custody of the children is often shared, more or less equally. If the parent who is not the primary decision-maker disagrees with the decision made by the “domiciliary parent”, he or she must get the court involved to resolve the dispute.
Even if you have the other parent’s permission to move away and change the visitation schedule, you must still obtain the court’s permission. Our firm can help you pursue a modification in order to legally relocate with your child. Likewise, if you object to the other parent moving away with your child, we can help you contest such a change. If necessary, we can take the matter to trial for you.Think Before you Make any Decisions About Custody
Before you make any commitments regarding custody or visitation to the other parent, it is important that you know that:
- Once a court approves a custody arrangement, it is very difficult and expensive to change. To change it, you must prove there has been a “material change in circumstances.” Whether or not a change is “material” depends upon the judgment of the court. This judgment may differ from your own.
- The custody arrangement you agree to may affect the amount of child support that you receive or that you pay. In some cases, the party receiving child support may have been better off, financially, if he or she had not agreed to a “shared” custody arrangement.
- Louisiana does not discriminate against children born out of wedlock. Custody Law is the same whether parents are married or not.
- You should NEVER agree to a custody arrangement unless you are confident it will work in the long run.
- You should NEVER agree to a custody arrangement unless you have consulted with an attorney.
- You should NEVER consult with the same attorney as your spouse.
At the Cosenza Law Firm we are concerned about the welfare of our clients and the best interests of their children. Know what your options are before you decide to take the next step. Call our Gonzales office 225-647-6644 or our Baton Rouge office 225-381-8181 or send an email to arrange a consultation.