Dealing with Holiday Visitation Problems

Dealing with Holiday Visitation Problems

The Christmas holidays are a time for family. Still, for many single parents, they can also be a time of stress dealing with holiday visitation problems. Child custody arrangements often mean that visitation schedules must be worked out well in advance. If there are problems, it can be challenging to resolve things. If you’re a single parent facing holiday visitation issues, here are a few tips to help you get through the season:

Dealing with the other parent:

First, try to be flexible in your visitation schedule. If your ex-partner wants to have the kids on Christmas Eve, see if you can work something out so that you can still spend time with them on Christmas Day. It’s important to remember that the holidays are about giving children the opportunity to spend time with both of their parents.

Set reasonable expectations:

During the holidays, it’s not uncommon for divorced or separated parents to have disagreements about visitation. In some cases, one parent may try to take advantage of the other parent’s generosity by extending their visit beyond what was initially agreed upon. Or, a parent may unexpectedly show up at their ex’s door expecting to be able to spend time with the kids. This leads to dealing with holiday visitation problems.

To avoid conflict and ensure everyone has a happy holiday season, it’s essential to set reasonable expectations for visitation. The place to start is your court-ordered custody plan. If you don’t have a custody plan and disagreements keep cropping up, it is a good idea to seek one. The custody plan is the tiebreaker when there is disagreement. The two parents can operate outside the plan if they agree, but the custody plan rules if they cannot agree. Custody plans take time to negotiate and get court approval. So start working to clarify the current plan or to get one before next year’s holiday season.

If you’re the custodial parent, communicate a proposed holiday schedule to the other parent that allows maximum time for the kids with each parent. And if you’re a non-custodial parent, don’t assume that you can show up unannounced and expect to be able to spend time with your kids.

By respecting each other’s time and space and putting the kids first, you can avoid holiday drama and ensure that your children have a joyful holiday season. Step away if the other parent refuses to cooperate and continues to cause drama. Take the high road, then seek the advice of your attorney. Remember, the holidays can be magical for kids. Don’t let the drama take that away, even if that means that for this year, you must give in to keep the drama at a minimum. Court access is limited during the holidays, so spend your energy on getting an ordered plan for next year instead of draining yourself with a fight during the holidays.


When it comes to co-parenting, one of the most important things you can do is to keep the lines of communication open with the other parent. This can be a challenge sometimes, especially if you don’t see eye to eye on everything, but it is vital for the sake of your children. Remember that you’re working towards the same goal: raising happy, healthy kids.

Respect the other parent’s boundaries. Robo-calling or incessant texting is not going to end well. Needing constant assurance that your children are okay while in the other parent’s custody is unhealthy for you. It interferes with your children’s ability to relax and enjoy their time with the other parent. The golden rule is sound wisdom here. Would you want the other parent Robo-calling or incessantly texting you? Would you like the other parent to constantly check that the children are okay while in your care?

Avoid making assumptions about the other parent’s thoughts or feelings. Always communicate directly with the other parent and do not send messages through the kids. Remember that there will be times when you disagree – that’s okay! Just agree to disagree and move on.

There are several tools to make communication easier when co-parenting, but we recommend Our Family Wizard. See our post on how it works, but you can find it here.


Sometimes things just can’t be worked out without outside help. It is better to take the high road and let it go for now. The holidays are no time for a war with the other parent. You may need to seek legal advice and court intervention; both will take time, and time is scarce over the holidays. In the meantime, document what is going on. Save your text messages and emails with the other parent. Back up your phone and computer to be sure the communications are preserved. Make notes about times and dates. It may be months before you get into court, and your memory of some details will fail or become distorted. Our Family Wizard is an excellent tool for documenting communications.

Dealing with the kids.

Dealing with problematic behavior is never easy, but parenting can be incredibly challenging during the holidays with holiday visitation problems. Children may be excited and energetic, which can lead to disruptive behavior. And if you’re sharing custody with an ex, you may have different parenting styles. But there are some things you can do to make the situation more manageable:

  1. Try to be understanding and patient. Children may not be able to express themselves in words so they may act out in other ways.
  2. Set clear limits and consequences for bad behavior. This will help children know what is expected of them.
  3. Let them have some say in what activities they participate in. You are still the parent but take their wishes into account.
  4. Build in some downtime for the kids. Tired and overwhelmed kids can be cranky kids.

Step away for a few minutes to clear your head if you feel overwhelmed. Take a break if you need to. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends or family members. Feel free to ask if you need someone to watch the kids while working or running errands. Single parents often must do everything on their own, but during the holidays, it’s important to accept help from others. Why not ask the other parent? They should be your first call when taking the kids off your hands so you can get some things done. They may appreciate the extra time with the kiddos, and your offer may help smooth the way to a more cooperative relationship. If they say no, then move to other family members or friends.

Discuss and coordinate gift-giving with the other parent. Be sure to share with your family and friends beforehand what you’re comfortable with your children receiving consistent with the plan. That way, there are no surprises on Christmas morning.

Try to stay positive. The holidays can be tricky when dealing with child custody issues but remember that it’s only temporary. Hopefully, you’ll work out a visitation schedule that works for everyone involved. If not, we are here to help. Until then, focus on spending quality time with your children and enjoy the holiday season.

As a parent, it is essential to know your rights and responsibilities. Please call our office for a consultation if you have any questions or need help dealing with custody issues dealing with holiday visitation problems. We are here to help you protect your rights as a parent.


Get the legal help you need. Contact Goff and Goff Attorneys today! 📞 (318) 255-1760

4 Tips to Help You Find the Right Family Law Attorney

4 Tips to Help You Find the Right Family Law Attorney

Divorce can be a complicated process, but you don’t have to do it alone- and you shouldn’t. Having a good lawyer on your side is essential when you go through a divorce. But finding the right lawyer can be tricky. Here are 4 tips to help you find the right family law attorney for you:

Do your research.

There are many lawyers, and not all of them are created equal. Finding the right lawyer can take time and effort. You want a specialist who will take your case to trial if necessary.
Look for a true specialist.
In Louisiana, any lawyer can call themselves a specialist. That’s why it’s essential to hire a board-certified family law attorney. A board certification attorney has passed rigorous testing on all aspects of family law (not just the bar exam that all attorneys must take). They have been screened by the bar association’s specialization committee and recommended for certification by other lawyers. Out of over 21,000 licensed attorneys in Louisiana, less than 100 are board certified in family law. So if you’re looking for the best possible representation in your divorce case, hire a board-certified family law attorney. Suppose you’re going through a divorce, custody case, or property division. It is imperative to have a knowledgeable, experienced lawyer on your side when you go through a divorce, custody case, or property division.
Be sure that the lawyer tries cases.
Hiring a lawyer who tries cases is essential to the best divorce case representation. Many lawyers claim to be specialists in family law, but they’ve never tried a lawsuit in court. So how can you be sure that they know what they’re doing?

You need an attorney who knows how to handle themselves in court. They’ll have the knowledge and skills to represent you y before a judge. A detailed understanding of evidence, the law, and trial procedure is necessary to present your case in court effectively. Not all cases need to go to trial. However, having a seasoned trial attorney on your side means they have the clout to negotiate the best possible settlement for you. A reasonable resolution is more likely if your ex’s attorney knows your attorney is not afraid of the courtroom.

So if you’re going through a divorce, hire a board-certified family law attorney with lots of trial experience. You’ll be glad you did.

Ask around

When looking for the best divorce lawyer, it can be helpful to talk to people who have been through a separation, divorce, or child custody case. They can recommend attorneys who may be a good fit for your case or even steer you away from those they had a bad experience with. Ask them what they liked or did not like about their attorney. Did the attorney explain the process to them and answer their questions? Did the attorney over-promise and under-deliver? Were their phone calls returned? Did the attorney take their case to trial or get a reasonable settlement? So don’t be afraid to ask around for advice. You may be surprised at the wealth of information people are willing to share.

Read the Google reviews

Attorney reviews on Google can help you find the right lawyer. Great reviews are helpful, but so are negative reviews. Understand, however, that negative reviews can be fake or written by people who are unhappy with how their case turned out through no fault of the lawyer. We have seen reviews written by people who are not clients and even some written by the client’s ex-spouse. Attorneys cannot always respond to negative reviews. This is because the Rules of Professional Conduct forbid attorneys from revealing confidential information about their clients. So, suppose the client complains the attorney didn’t do their job. In that case, the attorney cannot explain why they could not do the job. Perhaps the client didn’t pay their bill, didn’t follow instructions, didn’t pay their court-ordered child support, failed to obey court orders, hid evidence. . . you get the picture. Take negative reviews with a grain of salt.

Beware of free consultations

Family law is not personal injury, where free consultations are the norm. The initial consultation in a family law case is an important meeting. It is not just a sales meeting or a dog-and-pony show to get you to hire the attorney.
Dealing with a family law issue can make you overwhelmed and confused about what to do next. An attorney can help guide you through the process, and the initial consultation is the first step. The attorney will ask you many questions to better understand your situation and make a plan to help you achieve your goals. You and the attorney will explore options and determine if you can work together. The attorney will also explain the process to you and answer any questions. Be prepared to have an honest dialogue with the attorney so that they can best advise and represent you.

When the attorney meets with you, they will learn confidential information about your situation. After that, they should not meet with your ex, even if you don’t hire them to handle your case. So be sure to budget for this expense. It is well worth the cost to get the guidance of a qualified professional.

After the initial consultation, you should better know your rights and what can and cannot be done.

Ready to move forward?

Contact us today if you’re looking for a top-rated family law attorney in Louisiana. Shelley Goff is a board-certified family law specialist. She has 33 years of experience and knowledge to guide you through your legal situation quickly and efficiently.

At Goff and Goff Attorneys, we understand the challenges of family law. We are here to help you every step of the way, and our goal is to provide you with the information and support you need to make the best decisions for yourself and your children. With these 4 tips to help you find the right law attorney , you’ll be ready in no time. You deserve quality legal representation during this challenging time. We are committed to providing our clients with the highest service possible. Contact us today to schedule a paid consultation, and let us help you start the next chapter of your life.

Get the legal help you need. Contact Goff and Goff Attorneys today! 📞 (318) 255-1760

Are you an unwed father? 5 things you need to know

Unwed fathers have rights, but may need to take steps to enforce those rights.

If you are an unwed father, you are not alone.  The number of unwed fathers is growing. Your parental rights are constitutional right. However, enforcement of those rights seem to be automatic ONLY for the biological mother. You not only have a parental rights, but also obligations.  Here are 5 things you need to know about your parental rights.

  1. You need to establish paternity.  If you are not listed on the birth certificate as the father, take steps to establish paternity. This may require court action and/or DNA tests if the mother does not agree.
  2. You need to maintain a parental relationship with the child and provide support.  Your rights can be terminated if you do not, but it takes a court order to terminate your rights.  On the other hand, you can’t just walk away.  If you are determined to be the father, you will be required to support the child.  You must support the child even if you do not visit the child.   “Signing over my rights” will not get you out of paying child support.  Courts will not terminate your right just to get you out of paying child support. Failure to pay child support can result in penalties including loss of driving privileges, suspension of professional licenses, contempt of court, court fees and even incarceration.
  3. You may need to establish custody through a court order.  Without an order, you have no way to enforce your rights.
  4. Without a custodial order, you may not have access to school and medical records.   Schools and medical providers should honor your right if you can produce a birth certificate with your name on it.  However, many times they demand to see a custodial order.
  5. If you decide to enforce your rights, understand that the informal agreement that you have with the mother, even if it is in writing, is not enforceable unless it is filed in court and made an order of the court.
They Are Not Just Her Kids

They Are Not Just Her Kids

Parenting is hard, and it is even harder when a couple breaks up.  Whether it is a friendly breakup or an all out civil war, crafting the custodial arrangement requires a balancing of parental rights with the best interests of the children. If you’re in this sort of situation, she has to understand that they are not just her kids.

Dads are not second class citizens

Louisiana law treats both moms and dads with equal respect and responsibility.  Some of the misguided philosophies we hear are:

  • “my children” versus “our children.”
  • “they will live with me because I am the mom.”
  • “until he pays up on his child support, he will not see the children.”
  • “I will find my children a better dad.”
  • He left me so he also left the children.

Neither parent has an upper hand in Louisiana custody proceedings. Dad’s are just as capable as moms, and just as important.   It is  the best interest of the children that govern the outcome of a custody fight.

When parents cannot agree, the Court has to determine the best interest of the children

How does a judge determine what is in the best interest of the children?  The statutes provide a non-exhaustive list:

• The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.

• The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child.

• The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.

• The length of time the child has lived in a  stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment

• The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes

• The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.

• The mental and physical health of each party

• The home, school and community history of the child

• The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference

• The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party.

• The distance between the respective residences of the parties

• The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.

Children need both parents, before and after a breakup.

Dads are equally equipped to provide the stability and care the court will be looking for.  However, if Dad has not been fulfilling his parental duties while the couple was together, he will have a hard time convincing the court that he is now the better provider.  Dads who want to ensure they are on equal footing with mom in the case of a breakup make sure they are on equal footing in the care of the children before the breakup.  You will only be treated as a second class citizen if you have historically been treating your parental duties as unimportant.

Avoid the risk of loosing time with your kids

Don’t risk a disaster.  Instead, hire an experienced family law lawyer to protect your interests and make sure your parental rights are protected.  Shelley Goff at Goff and Goff Attorneys has been practicing family law for 28 years.  Call us. We can help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.  318-255-1760.