LEGAL CORNER: Is it true I need a court order to research my biological parents?

LEGAL CORNER: Is it true I need a court order to research my biological parents?

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Submit your questions to news@kplctv.com. Civil matters only, please.

QUESTION 1: If my child, who is almost a teen, is complaining that my ex yells at her the entire time they are at his house, is that grounds for a change of custody? Will the child be able to testify?

ANSWER: There is no magical age – as when someone becomes old enough to drive – that the courts automatically begin to consider the child’s preferences when awarding custody. However, just around the age of twelve is when the judges do begin to factor in the child’s input and concerns as to a custody arrangement.

Of course, sometimes the child’s reasoning for preferring one parent’s domicile may not be recognized as grounds for a change in the arrangement – for example, if a child prefers not to go to one parent’s place because he or she “makes me do all my homework” or “has too many rules.” Additionally, some children will tell a parent they do not want to go to the other parents because it pleases that parent to hear that.

In this case, there appears to be some legitimate verbal abuse of the child, and the child’s hesitation to go is justified. However, the viewer should not change any arrangements without going to court and getting the custody order changed. She can be held in contempt if she violates the current order.

QUESTION 2: I am receiving conflicting information when I am researching whether my boat requires an anchor and/or a horn. Also, not sure if I need a paddle or not. Different agencies give me different answers, which one is correct?

ANSWER: You can find all the boating regulations on the Wildlife and Fisheries website:

www.wlf.louisiana.gov

There are 5 subcategories, and one is clearly marked “Boating Requirements”.

The short answer to your question is: different boats require different equipment. There are regulations for boats less than 16 feet, boats 16 feet to less than 26 feet, and personal watercraft (jet ski).

It should be noted that all three types of boats require registration and validation – validation being the reflective sticker with a year on it – it must be displayed and current. Also, all three type of boats require a fire extinguisher, which also has to be charged up (meaning the pressure gage has to be in the right zone).

QUESTION 3: I learned that I was adopted and tried to research my birth parents. Now I’m being told I need a court order in Louisiana. Is this true?

ANSWER: There are a small number of states that allow adoption records to be opened simply after the passage of time. Louisiana is not in that minority. In Louisiana, you need either: (1) consent of the birth parent, or (2) a court order.

The court order is not easily granted. The standard required to open the records is usually “extremely good cause,” such as a medical emergency. Even then, the court may release the medical history only, not the identity of the birth parent(s).

However, you can always inquire as to whether the birth parent consented to allow the records to be opened by mailing a request to:

Louisiana Adoption Voluntary Registry

P.O. Box 3318

Baton Rouge, La. 70821

or calling (225) 342-9922 to talk about the process of applying.

DISCLAIMER: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

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