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Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink

Jeffrey Wittenbrink’s Answers

115 total


  • Ex wife isnt allowing visitation because of child support.

    Over a year ago I was placed on child support by my ex-wife because I have felt behind due to financial problems thus bringing me to my current situation. We have been divorced for over 4 years and the divorce papers that we signed at the notary o...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    In Louisiana one's custody and visitation rights are dependent upon the order which has been signed that defines those rights. A visitation order at "the convenience" of one parent or another gives very little recourse for enforcement. Even a court order for "reasonable visitation" is often not sufficient to enforce a parent's right to see their child on a regular, ongoing and consistent basis.

    A parent in this position should seek legal counsel to review their present custody order and determine precisely what rights are granted in the order, and then seek to modify the order to the extent that the visitation/custody schedule is not working, thereby depriving the child of the regular love, care and affection of the other parent.

    Custody and visitation are not conditioned upon support, except to the extent that failure to pay support can be counted against a person who is not paying as a factor in determining custody. A parent who is unable to pay the child support assessed should seek to reduce the child support as soon as possible in order to avoid a massive judgment of arrearages, and possibly an order of contempt, which would increase the indebtedness by costs and attorney's fees. Ultimately a person who is in arrears may lose parental rights to a stepparent, so the issue of arrearages is very important. A person in this position should consult with an attorney immediately.

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  • How does visitation go for an infant who is being breastfed?

    I have taken blood work during pregnancy for my child to prove to my ex, he is the father, He is threatening to have the child 7 and 7 and said that a lawyer told him, that I have to freeze 7 days of breastmilk for when the child is with him. I d...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    In Louisiana there is not a clear cut legal answer to this question. Some judges are extremely devoted to the idea of 50-50 shared custody, even when a child is only a few months old. While the standard for child custody is the "best interest of the child," the consideration for the father's rights sometimes wins out. Experts in lactation and even "attachment theory," the theory about how children develop properly according to having strong "attachments," favor breastfeeding at will by the child for at least a year, which rules out overnights for a year. There is presently no Louisiana court appellate ruling exactly on this point.

    You should immediately consult with an experienced family law attorney to assist you in this situation.

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  • How do i have my name (the father) added to my sons birth certificate and change his last name to mine from his mothers maiden

    I have been married for three years but with her for over 8 and we have a 7 year old son but when he was born i was out of state working and we were not talking so she did not have me put on the birth certificate and give him her last name. well n...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    In Louisiana, if the birth father and mother agree, the parties can both sign an Affidavit acknowledging Paternity, on a form available from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, here: http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov/assets/oph/Center-RS/vitalrec/AOP_2Party_Public.pdf On that form, you can list the child's name as the name that you both want it to have. In Louisiana, a child born out of wedlock cannot have the father's name without the mother's consent.

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  • Does she have to go on visitations with her father if she doesn't want to? Is there also a such thing as a "big brother law"?

    My daughter is 14 yrs old. I am the custodial parent (her mother) and I also have a 8 yr old son. My custody papers state, joint custody, and reasonable visitation.

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    Court ordered visitation is not contingent on the child's preferences in Louisiana. There are many times that this arises when children become teenagers; sometimes the visitation times conflict with other plans and things the child would rather do, sometimes the teenager-parent relationship can be strained. The parent who has physical custody of the child at the time when physical custody must be transferred should do everything in their power to see that the custodial times remain uninterrupted--at least until a court changing custody time is in place. The parent with physical custody may be held in contempt for failing to transfer the child, and worse, may be looked upon as not having the ability to control the actions of the child--something which is very important in a custody situation. Most teens respond well to the option of losing their telephone-physical cell phone and/or privileges when they fail to comply with a parental directive. If a parent has not at least tried some disciplinary option to "encourage" the child to go with the other parent, the court may find that parent incapable of controlling the child and being a responsible parent. If the relationship between the child and the other parent is so desperately bad that the child will physically resist all attempts at requiring the visit, a motion should be filed and the situation explained to the court. There may be reasons that the court would change custody times or side with the child. Counseling or other intervention may be required.

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  • Can I have my case transfer to a other lawyer?

    I hired a lawyer in August of 2014 for my new home because the floor in the home was so bad I had mildew underneath the laundry room sink and one of the restroom smelled mildew as well windows are hard to open or close rain coming in from my front...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    In Louisiana a client can fire his lawyer for any reason, or for no reason. If the lawyer has done work on your case, you may owe a fee or part of a fee, depending upon the kind of contract you have with the lawyer. If the case is a contingency fee case and the lawyer is fired for cause, you may not owe a fee. If the lawyer is fired for no reason, you may owe a fee based on what is called, "quantum meruit," meaning an amount that was not in the contract but based upon the amount and quality of the work performed.

    You should have a frank discussion with your attorney prior to discharging him or her, in order to let them know how you feel. Many times there has been a misunderstanding about the client's goals, or the attorney has not advised the client of the reason for her recommendation. Sometimes the lawyer is not being direct enough about her assessment of your case, and may feel that the case is not winnable, or that your expectations are too high.

    Many times changing lawyers in the middle of a matter can be costly, because a new attorney may have to do significant work to "catch up" in the case. You should consider all of these matters carefully. If you are dissatisfied after a frank discussion with your lawyer, you should find other counsel.

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  • I need an attorney that fights against the state instead of working for them

    I'm battling my ex who is a repeated convicted felon over false child neglect charges filed against me & keeping me from seeing my kids due to the false claims dcfs was told & without proof, they are winning by heresay & I went from being a mom th...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    Claims against a parent made through the Department of Children and Family Services can be difficult and require an attorney with experience in these matters. As the previous attorney answered, you should ask the attorney whether or not they have experience in criminal as well as family law, because in many child neglect or abandonment cases the parent is referred for criminal charges, in addition to having custody and visitation severely limited.

    You should immediately consult with an experienced family law attorney that also has criminal law experience and experience in juvenile court.

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  • Does my son's biological father have to sign anything (rights) over for adoption since he's never been involved in 4 years?

    My husband wants to adopt my son. My son is 4, and has no biological father listed on his birth certificate, nor has his biological father met him or tried to have any contact (physical, emotional, or financial) with him. I have not heard from him...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    In Louisiana, a biological father who has had no contact with their child since its birth four years ago will be deemed to waive his right to consent (or withhold consent) for an intrafamily adoption. It should be easy for court to find that the adoption would be in the best interest of the child, since the biological father has no relationship with the child. You will have to notify the biological father and he will be allowed "notice and opportunity" to defend the adoption. You should seek a family law attorney to help with your intrafamily adoption.

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  • What do I need?

    Hello. I've been married with my husband a few months, but we've been dating 4 years and have lived together for 3 years. I also have my 4 year old son who lives with us and never sees his real dad. His real dad chose not to see him and hasn't sin...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    Your case would be called an "intrafamily adoption." In Louisiana a parent (your ex) may lose the right to consent (or withhold consent) to an intrafamily adoption if they have failed without just cause to contact their child for six months or more, or for failing to pay child support as ordered. At that point the issue would be whether or not the adoption is "in the best interests" of the child. If you have a judgment of sole custody, the adoption is presumed to be in the child's best interests.

    There are many factors that the court should consider as to whether or not the adoption would be in the child's best interests, but the fact that you have been in a stable, loving relationship for an extended period of time with a person that the child sees as "daddy," and that the biological father is not in contact or have a relationship with the child are two large factors in your favor. You should consult a family law attorney immediately to pursue the adoption.

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  • What can I do to get full custody of my unborn son?

    I'm 27 weeks right now. I was living in South Mississippi when I found out I was pregnant. I was 6 weeks. We was living in our own Camper. He had a job. He said we would start getting baby stuff. (Never did) I left the father when I was 10 weeks b...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    In Louisiana, a father who has not signed an affidavit of paternity with the mother's consent, or sued for filiation of a child, has very few rights that he can enforce. If he does not sign the birth certificate, the mother may not be able to place him on the birth certificate unilaterally. He has no right to have the child given his last name unless he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth, unless the mother consents.

    If the birth father does not place his name on the Louisiana putative father registry, he may not receive notice in the case of a later adoption, so any father who does not pursue his rights may lose them.

    Custody proceedings may not take place until after a child is born. A mother pursuing child support in the case of an absent father does not have to pursue custody, unless she is worried that the father will appear and attempt to take possession of the child, in which case his paternity must have been already established, such as by being named on the child's birth certificate by way of an affidavit of paternity to which the mother consents.

    In an instance where a father is an habitual user of illegal drugs, many courts in Louisiana may grant the mother sole custody, pending the father taking steps to be drug free and sober for a period of time, usually six months.

    You should see a Louisiana family law attorney about protecting your rights prior to the child's birth and pursuing custody after the child is born.

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  • Are they laws against mother in law trying to break up marrage

    she is telling my wife ugly things, im a bum, your husband has moved on, etc.

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    While Louisiana does not recognize a cause of action for "alienation of affection," certain actions could give rise to a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The burden of proof and damages is heavy, however, and usually would require treatment and testimony from an expert.

    You should strongly consider marital counseling with your wife, in order that you and she could increase your communication and deal with proper boundaries for your mother in law. Uninterrupted, corrosive influence by a third party, without some kind of counseling and intervention, could due irreparable damage to your marriage. Many family law attorneys work closely with counselors, and may be able to refer you to someone for help.

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