As a divorced father in New Orleans, you may feel as though you have to fight that much harder to ensure that everyone respects your parental rights. There is often a natural assumption that child custody issues tend to fall in favor of mothers.
The law does not formally validate such a bias. Yet many may feel as though it should be up to your children’s mother to make vital decisions on their behalf, up to and including where they should live.
Dealing with a potential relocation
What if your ex-wife wants the kids to live far away from you? Per Louisiana’s Revised Statutes, your ex-spouse cannot simply move away with the kids even in cases where she is the sole custodian. She must provide you with written notice of her intent at least 60 days prior to a proposed move. The only exception would be situations where she must immediately relocate, in which case she only needs to provide you with 10 days’ notice.
If your ex-wife fails to comply with this mandate, the court may order that she return the children until the two of you can modify your custody agreement appropriately. The court may also require your ex-spouse to reimburse you for any legal fees you accrue in ensuring that this happens. Her decision to not provide you with the proper notice may also negatively impact her when the court considers how to modify your arrangement.
Taking your case to court
Once you receive notification of your ex-spouse’s intention to move, you have 30 days to file a petition with the court to state your opposition. Failing to reply is equivalent to you consenting to the move, which would likely then lead to the court adopting whatever revised custody schedule your ex-spouse recommends. If you oppose the move, the court will hold a hearing, in which the burden of proof falls to your ex-spouse to state her justifications for moving away with your kids.
Even if your ex-spouse has a valid reason to move, the court recognizes the benefit of your kids continuing their relationship with you. Thus, it is likely that you can modify your custody agreement in a way that allows you continued access to them.