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What does Louisiana law say about relocating a child’s residence after divorce? (Part 2)

Who is permitted to propose a relocation of a child’s residence?

In part one, we examined the distance requirement in the Louisiana Relocation Statutes – i.e. if you were moving with your child, what distance would trigger your obligations under the relocation statutes.  In part 2 of our examination of the Louisiana Relocation Statutes, we will examine who may propose the relocation of a child.

La R.S. 3:55.3 specifically addresses this issue.  It reads:

The following persons are authorized to propose relocation of the principal residence of a child by complying with the notice requirements of this Subpart:

(1)  A person designated in a current court decree as the sole custodian.

(2)  A person designated in a current court decree as a domiciliary parent in a joint custody arrangement.

(3)  A person sharing equal physical custody under a current court decree.

(4)  A person sharing equal parental authority under Chapter 5 of Title 11 VII of Book I of the Louisiana Civil Code.

(5)  A person who is the natural tutor of a child born outside of marriage.

If you have a current court order addressing custody, then the evaluation begins there.  Were you awarded sole custody of your child?  Do you and your ex have joint custody, but you are designated as the domiciliary parent?  Do you and your ex share equal physical custody of your child under a current court order?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, and you intend to move more than the distance discussed in Part 1 of this series, then you have obligations under the Louisiana Relocation Statutes.

If you do not have a court order regarding custody of your child, the evaluation becomes a little more complicated.  The reference to Chapter 5 of Title VII of Book I of the Louisiana Civil Code refers to the Chapter entitled: Parent and Child – Of Parental Authority.  Although the evaluation is far more complicated, basically, if you and your spouse are married and share equal parental authority, each of you may propose a relocation of your child.  Finally, if your child was born outside of marriage and you have no court order, then the parents of the child could be the natural tutors.  However, in this circumstance, please beware that there are numerous questions and legal analysis which must be asked before an in-depth evaluation can be done – such as, has the child been acknowledged, etc.  As always, a thorough evaluation of the circumstances by an experienced attorney is necessary when determining if you have obligations under the Louisiana Relocation Statutes.  In Part 3, we will evaluate what those obligations are.

If you, or someone you know, wishes to relocate with their minor child after a separation, please feel free to contact Stanley-Wallace Law, LLC for a free consultation.

What does Louisiana law say about relocating a child’s residence after divorce? Part 1 in a 4 part series.

Part 1: How far is too far?

So, you have gone through a messy divorce and custody battle, or you and your ex-spouse agreed to the custody of your child or children fairly easily.  Now, you want to move and you want your children to come with you.  What does Louisiana law say about this?  Louisiana requires certain people to make certain notifications if they are moving, with the child or children, a certain distance from their current residence or the other parent.  In part one of this four-part series, we will explore under what circumstances these “relocation statutes” come into play – more specifically, the distance requirement.

Before we can explore how far one needs to move for these relocation statutes to come into play, we need to determine the principal residence of the child.  La. R.S. 9:355.1 (1) provides:

(1)  “Principal residence of a child” means:

  • (a) The location designated by a court to be the primary residence of the child.
  • (b) In the absence of a court order, the location at which the parties have expressly agreed that the child will primarily reside.
  • (c) In the absence of a court order or an express agreement, the location, if any, at which the child has spent the majority of time during the prior six months.

If you have a court order, or the parties have expressly agreed to the primary residence of the child then this determination is easy.  However, without a court order or express agreement, it must be determined where the child spent the majority of his or her time during the last six months.

Once you have determined the principal residence of your child, you must next determine how far you would like to move and if that distance triggers obligations under the relocation statutes.  La. R.S. 9:355.1 (B) reads:

  1. This Subpart shall apply to a proposed relocation when any of the following exist:
  • (1) There is intent to establish the principal residence of a child at any location outside the state.
  • (2) There is no court order awarding custody and there is an intent to establish the principal residence of a child at any location within the state that is at a distance of more than seventy-five miles from the domicile of the other parent.
  • (3) There is a court order awarding custody and there is an intent to establish the principal residence of a child at any location within the state that is at a distance of more than seventy-five miles from the principal residence of the child at the time that the most recent custody decree was rendered.
  • (4) If either no principal residence of a child has been designated by the court or the parties have equal physical custody, and there is an intent to establish the principal residence of a child at any location within the state that is at a distance of more than seventy-five miles from the domicile of a person entitled to object to relocation.

If you intend to move, with your child or children, out of state – then you have obligations under the Louisiana relocation statutes.  If there is no court order, if no principal residence of the child or children has been designated by the court, or if you and your ex-spouse have equal physical custody then moving more than seventy-five miles from the other parent triggers your responsibilities under the statutes.  Finally, if there is a court order awarding custody, then you cannot move more than seventy-five miles from your child or children’s residence without abiding by your obligations under the Louisiana relocation statutes.

Now that you know the distance requirements, in part two we will explore who is authorized to propose relocation of the child or children, in part three we will discuss what your obligations are under the statutes, and in part four you will learn what consequences you face for not abiding by the Louisiana relocation statutes.  Stay tuned…

As always, interpretation and application of child custody and other laws requires an experienced attorney.  If you or someone you know is seeking to relocate with their children after a divorce or separation, please feel free to contact Stanley-Wallace Law.  We are here to help!

Kristen Stanley-Wallace Named 10 Best Family Law Attorney in Louisiana for Client Satisfaction

9/9/2017 Press release:  The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys has recognized the exceptional performance of Louisiana’s Family Law Attorney Kristen Stanley-Wallace as 2017 10 Best Family Law Attorney for Client Satisfaction.

The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys is a third-party attorney rating organization that publishes an annual list of the Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in each state. Attorneys who are selected to the “10 Best” list must pass AIOFLA’s rigorous selection process, which is based on client and/or peer nominations, thorough research, and AIOFLA’s independent evaluation. AIOFLA’s annual list was created to be used as a resource for clients during the attorney selection process.

One of the most significant aspects of the selection process involves attorneys’ relationships and reputation among his or her clients. As clients should be an attorney’s top priority, AIOFLA places the utmost emphasis on selecting lawyers who have achieved significant success in the field of Family Law without sacrificing the service and support they provide. Selection criteria therefore focus on attorneys who demonstrate the highest standards of Client Satisfaction.

We congratulate Kristen Stanley-Wallace on this achievement and we are honored to have her as a 2017 AIOFLA Member.

How to Prepare for a Workers’ Compensation Consultation with an Attorney

Sometimes life throws us a curve-ball, some good, some not so good.  One of these may be an injury at work.  Should you become injured at work, it is extremely important for you to learn what your rights are immediately.  Without a working knowledge of your rights related to a workers’ compensation injury, you may inadvertently waive some of those rights, causing you to receive much less than you are entitled to.  A consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is your best option.  Most, including our office, provide a free initial consultation to evaluate your case and provide you with information related to your claim.  But, how do you prepare for such a meeting?  Below is a list of information and documentation that you should have at the ready when meeting with an attorney regarding a workers’ compensation injury:

  1. The date, time, and circumstances of your on the job accident. It is important to determine if your accident occurred within the “course and scope” of your employment with your employer;
  2. Names and contact information for any and all witnesses;
  3. Names and contact information for your employer. Names and contact information for your supervisors;
  4. Is your employer a subcontractor for another business?
  5. Any documentation and information regarding when you first reported the accident/injury to your employer. Who did you report the accident to? When did you report the accident? Were any forms filled out?;
  6. Name, address, and telephone number for any adjuster and workers’ compensation insurance carrier for your employer. If you have been assigned a claim number, this number is important.  Bring with you any and all letters or other documents which may contain this information;
  7. Any and all treatment which you have undergone and any diagnoses that have been made. All medical records for this treatment should be brought with you to your initial consultation;
  8. Has any medical provider addressed whether or not you can return to work? Any documentation regarding your ability to return to work, with or without restrictions is crucial to your claim;
  9. Has a medical provider addressed whether or not your injury is related to the accident at work? In some situations, this may be obvious (i.e. a fall from a ladder resulting in a back injury), however, some are not so clear;
  10. How are you feeling now? Are you still having pain or has your injury resolved?;
  11. The name of any attorneys with which you have already consulted regarding this accident/injury and the result of that consultation; and
  12. Bring with you any and all forms that you may have filled out since reporting the accident to the employer and/or insurer. It is very important to NOT sign any documents until you have met with a workers’ compensation attorney.  These documents may waive some very important rights you have under Louisiana workers’ compensation law.  However, if you have signed any documents since the on the job accident, bring copies with you to your meeting with the attorney.

There are many more questions to be answered and issues to be discussed in that first meeting with a workers’ compensation attorney, but an experienced attorney, such as Kristen Stanley-Wallace, will guide the conversation to make sure that all of these questions are answered and discussed.  Meeting with a workers’ compensation attorney is not something to fear.  Should this attorney take your case they should be the client’s most trusted ally.

Gestational Surrogacy Contracts – New Louisiana Law

Prior to August 1, 2016, couples who were unable to have children had very few to no options when it came to the topic of surrogacy.  Any surrogacy or “gestational carrier” contracts were unenforceable in Louisiana prior to August 1, 2016.  Enter HB1102.  HB1102’s stated purpose is “to regulate gestational surrogacy agreements” and the legislature found “that it is desirable to assure that the intended parents of every child born through the use of assisted reproductive technology be legal and biological parents of the child.”  This bill, which was signed into law as Act No. 494 with an effective date of August 1, 2016, restricts enforceable gestational surrogacy agreements to those in which a married couple engages a gestational surrogate and the married couple also must use their “own gametes” (i.e. sperm and egg). Thus, under the terms of this new legislation, same sex couples do not fall within the definition of those married couples who can legally engage a gestational surrogate.  The legislation states that “compelling state interests justify provisions for filiation to be recognized by a court upon proof that the child is genetically related to both parents.”  This legislation further makes clear that contracts regarding “genetic gestational carriers” (defined as the process by which a woman attempts to carry and give birth to a child using her own egg and then agrees to relinquish custody and all rights to that child) is an absolute nullity.

Act No. 494 provides a myriad of requirements for such a contract to be legally enforceable.  Some examples of these requirements include that the contract must be in writing, signed by the gestational carrier, and her spouse if she is married, and both of the intended parents.  The gestational carrier must be between the ages of 25 and 35, must have already given birth to at least one child, must agree to reasonable medical evaluation and treatment during the pregnancy, must have undergone at least two counseling sessions, and agree to a post-birth counseling session.  The intended parents must agree and recognize that the gestational surrogate has the sole authority to make medical decisions during the term of the pregnancy as if she was a woman carrying her own biological child.  Further, the intended parents must agree to accept custody and assume full parental rights to the child, regardless of any impairment, agree to be recognized as the legal parents of the child, among other requirements.  Further, either the gestational carrier (and her spouse if she is married) or the intended parents, may seek judicial approval of the gestational carrier contract prior to the utero embryo transfer.

While this new act offers new options for some married couples, opponents of the act criticize its limited scope, not only for non-heterosexual couples, but also for some heterosexual couples, such as those with no viable gametes.  To review the entirety of Act No. 494, please see:  http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1011810.

LASC Rules that Employers May Only be Sued Under Workers’ Compensation for Employee’s Hearing Loss

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In an opinion issued by the Louisiana Supreme Court yesterday, the court found that gradual noise induced hearing loss caused by occupational exposure to hazardous noise levels is a personal injury by accident or an occupational disease, or both, under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act.  Read more

My Ex Won’t Abide by a Lawful Judgment… Now What?

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I recently posted about the process to change an existing Louisiana custody and/or child support judgment.  Another post-judgment issue may be that the Louisiana judgment that you have is exactly what you need…BUT the opposing party knowingly refuses to adhere to it.  Read more

Issue No. 1 of SWL’s Quarterly Newsletter On Its Way to Clients

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It is important to me that my clients and former clients are kept up to date, Read more

Changing a Prior Custody or Child Support Order… Is it Possible?

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Whether you spent months and lots of tears to obtain your first judgment, or you were one of the lucky ones who was able to come to an agreement with your former spouse or partner, sometimes that first judgment doesn’t stand the test of time.  Read more

How to Prepare for A Consultation – Family Law

divorceFor those of you who have been fortunate enough not to have met with an attorney regarding a legal issue, congratulations – you are one of the very few. However, it is more likely that during your lifetime, and maybe several times during your lifetime, you will need the guidance of an attorney to get you through a tough time.  Read more