Domestic Violence Post Separation

Louisiana Post Separation Family Violence Relief Act

Domestic Violence doesn’t necessarily end when a court issues a divorce judgment, custody order or visitation schedule.  The Post-Separation Family Violence Relief Act is one way in which the Louisiana legislature has attempted to remedy some of the problems relating to domestic violence after divorce.  Below I have included select portions of the Family Violence Relief Act.  The entire text of the Act can be found by searching Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:361 et seq.

“Violence often escalates, and child custody and visitation become the new forum for the continuation of the abuse.  Because current laws relative to child custody and visitation are based on an assumption that even divorcing parents are in relatively equal positions of power, and that such parents act in the children’s best interest, these laws often work against the protection of the children and the abused spouse in families with a history of family violence.  Consequently, laws designed to act in the children’s best interest may actually effect a contrary result due to the unique dynamics of family violence.” La. R.S. 9:361.

“ ‘Family violence’ includes but is not limited to physical or sexual abuse and any offense against the person as defined in the Criminal Code of Louisiana, except negligent injuring and defamation, committed by one parent against the other parent or against any of the children.  ‘Family violence’ does not include reasonable acts of self-defense utilized by one parent to protect himself or herself or a child in the family from the family violence of the other parent.” La. R.S. 9:362(3)

“There is created a presumption that no parent who has a history of perpetrating family violence shall be awarded sole or joint custody of children.  The court may find a “history of perpetrating family violence if the court finds that one incident of family violence has resulted in serious bodily injury or the court finds more than one incident of family violence.  The presumption shall be overcome only by a preponderance of the evidence that the perpetrating parent has successfully completed a treatment program as defined herein, is not abusing alcohol and the illegal use of drugs scheduled in R.S. 40:964, and that the best interest of the child or children requires that the parent’s participation as a custodial parent because of the other parent’s absence, mental illness or substance abuse or such other circumstances which affect the best interest of the child or children.  The fact that the abused parent suffers from the effects of the abuse shall not be grounds for denying that parent custody.” La. R.S. 9:364(A).

“If the court finds that both parents have a history of perpetrating family violence, custody shall be awarded solely to the parent who is less likely to continue to perpetrate family violence.  In such a case, the court shall mandate completion of a treatment program by the custodial parent.  If necessary to protect the welfare of the child, custody may be awarded to a suitable third person, provided that the person would not allow access to a violent parent except as ordered by the court.”  La. R.S. 9:364(B).

“If the court finds that a parent has a history of perpetrating family violence, the court shall allow only supervised child visitation with that parent, conditioned upon that parent’s participation in and completion of a treatment program.  Unsupervised visitation shall only be allowed if shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the violent parent has successfully completed a treatment program, is not abusing alcohol and psychoactive drugs, poses no danger to the child, and that such visitation is in the child’s best interest.” La. R.S. 9:364(C).

“If any court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that a parent has sexually abused his or her child or children, the court shall prohibit all visitation and contact between the abusive parent and the children, until such time, following a contradictory hearing, that the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the abusive parent has successfully completed a treatment program designed for such sexual abusers, and that supervised visitation is in the children’s best interest.” La. R.S. 9:364(D).

“All separation, divorce, child custody, and child visitation orders and judgments in family violence cases shall contain an injunction as defined in R.S. 9:362.” La. R.S. 9:366(A).

“In any family violence case, all court costs, attorney fees, evaluation fees, and expert witness fees incurred in furtherance of this Part shall be paid by the perpetrator of the family violence, including all costs of medical and psychological care for the abused spouse, or for any children, necessitated by the family violence.” La. R.S. 9:367.