People often end up in court for legal issues within their family. A large number of these legal matters typically have to do with child custody and child support. For residents of Louisiana, the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) division of the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) is available to help.
Child support issues can cover a wide range of disputes and legal subjects. Some common child support issues in the state of Louisiana include:
- Disputes over the amount that must be paid;
- Late, missed, or outstanding payments;
- Adjustments or modifications to child support orders;
- Changes in the family structure, such as a remarriage or the birth of additional children (which may affect living expenses and budget); and/or
- Changes in lifestyle, employment, or other factors that might affect child support.
In Louisiana, child support is determined by the Child Support Award Guidelines, which is based on the total income of both parents, and has to be paid by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent.
The custodial parent is the one that has custody of the child for the majority of the time, while the non-custodial has custody for less time (typically on weekends or other similar arrangements). The custodial parent will naturally have more expenses related to the child, so that is why the payment is arranged in that way.
However, if there is joint custody the court will consider how much time the child spends with each parent to figure out child support so that the parents both contribute their fair share to the financial care of the child.
Custody arrangements can change over time, so if there will be an anticipated change, the court needs to be informed about it. That way, the child support arrangement can also be modified to reflect the new living arrangements between the parents and child or children.
You can set up a child support order through the court, filling out an application online at LA CAFÉ (Louisiana child support website), or by contacting your local CSE office. It would be helpful and speed up the process if you can provide information to find the noncustodial parent.
The more information you can provide on the other parent, the easier it will be for the court or enforcement office to set up your child support order. However, if you have not established the paternity of your child, or are having difficulty locating the child’s other parent, CSE can provide you with assistance in determining and finding the other parent.
If you do not pay child support, there are a number of different enforcement techniques the Louisiana may use against you. The state can take the child support right out of your wages, or use state and federal tax refunds to pay the support you owe.
If the state wants to punish you for being delinquent in your payment, you can be held in contempt of court and arrested. You can also lose your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and passport.
A parent has rights to visitation and custody with their child, even if they do not pay child support. If visitation is being denied, you have the right to go to court and demand that your visitation schedule be upheld.
On the other hand, Louisiana law does allow CSE to publicly post what is known as a “most wanted list”. This is a list of noncustodial parents that have not paid at least $10,000 in child support arrears (back payments) and who also have not made a child support payments in the last six months.
If you think you should stop paying child support, you will need to discuss it with a lawyer. Do not make this decision on your own because you can face serious legal consequences, as previously discussed. Before child support is ordered, you have the right to prove through a paternity test that you are not the parent.
You can also try to make an agreement with the other parent to stop paying or reduce child support. Basically, you should not attempt to stop making payments without first consulting with a legal professional as well as informing the court of the matter.
Since child support can be such an expensive and important part of your life, it is important to find the right legal representation. If you are facing problem with either trying to get child support or paying child support, contact a Louisiana child support lawyer. Your attorney can provide you with advice and guidance along the way as your case passes through the court system.