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Baton Rouge Family Law Blog

Handling child custody issues in Louisiana

A previous post here discussed the different components of child custody, primarily legal and physical custody. If you have children and are about to go through the divorce process, then you may need to know about the different types of custody, as well as the various types of custody arrangements that may be available to you. Once you know what you want, then you can proceed with trying to negotiate a resolution with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

Unfortunately, however, child custody is often an issue that is hotly contested. One parent may feel as if the other parent poses a threat to the child, or that time spent with the other parent would not support the child's best interests. When this is the case, a parent may need to be prepared to make a case before a judge who will ultimately decide the issue, if an agreement cannot be reached through negotiations. Yet, even once a decision is made, it is not permanent. A change in circumstances could give rise to a child custody modification, either granting a parent more or less time with a child.

When should I consider a child support modification?

It can take a lot of time and effort to establish a child support payment plan, and once it's in place, parents may be inclined to leave it as it is. Still, a lot can happen in the months and years after the paperwork is signed. A parent may become suddenly ill, lose a job, change marital status or receive an increase in income. These changes and others can mean that a plan that once made sense now needs changes. The law provides that parents can make these changes through requesting a modification.

If you are unable to pay your current child support obligation, it is important to request a modification, and to do so quickly. You will still owe any payments you missed, and that dollar amount will grow in interest. It is very difficult to discharge this kind of debt, even if you later declare bankruptcy.

Things of which to be aware during property divison

Divorce can raise a whole host of issues, but one that nearly every couple has to face is how to handle financial matters. Property division often becomes a critical piece of the marriage dissolution process and for each party's financial future. This issue should therefore be given adequate consideration, as failing to do so could result in an outcome that is unfair and financial devastating to Louisiana residents. However, it is critical to realize that protecting one's financial interests actually begins prior to marriage, and continues throughout the relationship's life.

So how does one protect his or her financial interests? One important thing to remember is to not use non-marital funds to pay off marital debts. When this occurs, the account, owned by one party prior to the marriage, could be deemed marital property, subjecting it to property division in the event of divorce. Likewise, individuals should avoid opening a joint account utilizing non-marital funds. Again, this would likely render those non-marital funds as commingled, transforming them into marital property and subject to division.

Former Dodgers owner discusses lessons learned from divorce

Relationship problems can affect anyone, in Louisiana or elsewhere. However, when those issues arise during the course of a marriage, divorce may be on the horizon, meaning that the couple may need to start considering several divorce legal issues. How these matters are handled can paint the path for one's post-divorce life, so it is critical that they are carefully addressed. However, even steps taken immediately after marriage and during the course of the relationship before a split can have a significant impact on the outcome of a divorce.

Jamie McCourt, former wife of Frank McCourt and co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, learned this the hard way. McCourt says that she was taken advantage of during the divorce because she neglected to pay attention to her family's financial situation. Throughout the course of their 32 years of marriage, the McCourts co-mingled their funds, rendering it marital property and subject to equitable division. Additionally, Jamie McCourt was unaware of the selling price of the Dodgers, a whopping $2.1 billion, and sought an additional $131 million after discovering it. That request, however, was denied.

The different components of child custody

When people goes through a divorce, they may have a lot on their minds. One's financial future, emotional recovery, and the logistics of one's new living arrangements may be enough to stress one out. Yet, in many instances, no other issue is more emotional and contested than child custody. Though parents can oftentimes come to a mutual agreement about how to divide their time with their child, sometimes the matter is more divisive.

Therefore, those facing marriage dissolution and a child custody battle should familiarize themselves with the different types of child custody so that they know what they want to fight for. Essentially, there are two components to Louisiana child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child will be living. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the legal authority to make major life decisions for the child, including those related to health, education, and religion.

The Rowe Law Firm helps address child support issues

In a time of financial strife, child support can be a financial stabilizer or a financial devastator. For example, as was discussed last week on our blog, child support for medical expenses that go beyond insurance coverage can be significant. For a custodial parent who is unable to collect a reasonable amount from a noncustodial parent, such expenses may leave him or her with the decision of which bills he or she can realistically pay in any given month. Similarly, a noncustodial parent who does pay his or her fair share of the bill could face financial uncertainty.

Though there may not be any way to avoid financial struggles on one end of the child support system, an individual might be able to find some clarity and certainty by adequately addressing child support during the divorce process. For example, by reaching a settlement agreement that addresses medical expenses, parents can rest easy knowing how the bill will be split in the event that their child needs extensive medical care.

How do uninsured medical costs affect child support?

Divorce can be heart-wrenching, reshaping the way an individual's life looks after the process is settled. The matter can be even more difficult to handle with child custody is challenged. And even when a resolution is reached, child support issues can linger for years. Though noncustodial parents often have to help pay for every day, educational, and extracurricular expenses, they also have to help pay for their children's medical care. But what if medical expenses far exceed one's health insurance coverage?

How this issue is handled is determined by the parameters of one's divorce. For example, a couple's divorce agreement regarding child support may spell out that any uninsured medical expenses will be split evenly amongst the parents. However, if uninsured medical and dental costs are not addressed in the divorce decree, then a court may add these amounts to other child support obligations, split based on the state's child support guidelines.

What do I need to do in order to adopt through the state?

There are many children across Louisiana who are looking for a permanent home. Fortunately, there are many families willing to open their arms and welcome these children into their homes with love and support. However, though the decision to adopt a child is an important and joyous one, it can also trigger certain requirements that must be met before the adoption can be finalized.

So, what are those requirements? If you are considering adoption, the first thing you will need to do is attend an orientation. Then you will need to file an application, which initiates the certification process. Once that is completed, the state will need your fingerprints, as well as the fingerprints of everyone over the age of 18 who resides in your home, so that background checks can be completed. If the background checks come back disqualifying you, then you may need to seek a waiver.

Divorce filings peak after the holiday season

This blog devotes a lot of time talking about the divorce process and the plethora of issues that accompany it. Though these matters are highly important and can be difficult to contend with, so, too, can the mere decision to file for divorce. For many, the timing may never feel right. For others, though, there may be specific timing that works best for them and their family.

According to studies, one of the most common times for divorce filings is after the holiday season. There may be many reasons for this. Spouses may want to allow their family to enjoy the holidays without the negative animosity often associated with divorce. Due to holiday shopping, spouses may not have the funds available to divorce until sometime after the New Year's arrival. For others, they may choose this early time of the year to dissolve their marriage so as to prevent upcoming bonuses from being included as marital property.

What is the divorce process?

Getting divorced can be overwhelming. There is, of course, the emotional turmoil that one may feel as a result of the circumstances, as well as the daunting feelings that may be associated with starting a new life as a single person. In addition, divorcing parties have to contend with multiple legal issues that can result in heated disputes, the outcomes of which could shape their lives for years to come. These matters include child custody, child support, alimony and property division. But many may find themselves wondering how the divorce process will play out. We hope this post will help them better understand the divorce timeline.

The divorce process is initiated when one party files a petition stating why he or she is seeking marriage dissolution and how he or she feels financial matters should be settled. Once that petition is served, or given, to the other spouse, that spouse must file a response. This answer must be filed within a certain timeframe, which is critical, as failing to do so could indicate to the court that he or she agrees with the initial petition. The answer should state whether the spouse agrees with the petition and how it proposes to settle matters.

Contact Our Child Custody And Support Lawyers In Baton Rouge

We will take the time to learn as much as possible about your situation. Based on your goals and circumstances, we will help you determine the best course of action. Contact a Louisiana family law attorney at our law firm today.

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