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Baton Rouge Family Law Blog

What is the general timeline for a divorce?

Some people in Louisiana know, generally speaking, how divorce works. In essence, you break up with your spouse, divide your assets, determine child custody and set any child support and spousal support obligations. In reality, though, divorce is much more nuanced, and you may find yourself wondering how it works from a technical aspect. Although it may seem basic, understanding the simple timeline of a divorce can help you get a grasp of what is to come and what to expect.

A divorce always starts when a spouse files a petition for divorce. This document will state why the spouse wants a divorce, and how he or she thinks that certain divorce legal issues, such as property division and child custody, should be handled. Once this petition is filed and served on the other spouse, the other spouse then has time to file an answer. An answer will demonstrate whether the spouse agrees with the petition and, if not, how he or she thinks divorce legal issues should be handled.

QDRO may be necessary to protect financial interests in divorce

Getting a divorce can certainly take a tremendous emotional toll on an individual in Louisiana. What was once a steady relationship has come to an end, sometimes amicably and sometimes with a ton of negative animosity. Moreover, divorced individuals need to find a way to begin their new post-divorce life. Although this can be emotionally challenging, it can also be a financial struggle as a divorce by necessity involves property division.

Amongst the assets to be divided are retirement accounts. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401ks, and other investments can all be on the chopping block when a couple decides to end their marriage. Although dividing these assets may seem simple enough, there can be significant contention regarding how much each party should get. Additionally, there may be issues with regards to logistics of dividing these assets. The logistics should not be ignored, as doing so could lead to significant financial consequences.

November is National Adoption Month, and LA continues to succeed

For many Louisiana families, adoption is a viable way to expand their families. For many Louisiana children, adoption is a great way to find the loving, caring family they deserve. The number of children in foster homes awaiting adoption is quite high but, fortunately, Louisiana has a strong record of adoption, giving children the forever homes they deserve.

In fact, Louisiana leads the nation in foster care adoptions, and has done so over the last four years. Between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016, 735 Louisianan children were adopted from foster homes. Despite the number of adoptions, though, the state still sees a large number of children in need of a forever family. In fact, in the Lake Charles area alone there are currently 64 children waiting to be adopted.

Louisiana attorneys skilled at handling child support disputes

Going through divorce can be emotionally challenging. What was once a family unit can be broken apart, sometimes in a way that leaves parties with a lot of heartache and negative animosity. In addition to having to redefine their new lives after marriage in emotional terms, those who get divorced will also need to ensure their financial stability. This may be tricky, particularly when children are involved.

When a couple is married and has children, they are expected to raise them together. The same holds true after divorce, though it may be broken down in financial terms. A non-custodial parent should hold up their end of the bargain by paying for their fair share of educational, extracurricular and every day expenses for their child. There can be a lot of dispute about what amount of child support should be paid, which is why, as was discussed previously on this blog, the child support obligation worksheet may be a strong starting point.

What is the difference between an open and closed adoption?

Louisianans who are considering adoption have a lot to think about. There are, of course, the financial ramifications of bringing a child into the family, but there are also other matters that can play a pivotal role in whether an adoption is successful. One of the key factors is determine whether the family wants an open or closed adoption.

What is the difference? With a closed adoption, there is no contact between the biological parents and neither the adoptive parents nor the child once the adoption is finalized. In many closed adoptions, the child does not know who his or her biological parents are. An open adoption, on the other hand, the biological parents maintain contact with the child and the adoptive parents, and they may even play an integral part in the child's life even though he or she has a new family.

What is a guardianship?

Many Louisianans are familiar with adoption and how that can relate to parental rights and one's legal responsibility for a child. However, not as many are familiar with the concept of guardianship. Guardianship can prove extremely beneficial for parents, those seeking guardianship and children. We hope this post will help shed some light on the topic and help individuals better determine if guardianship is something that they should consider.

A guardian is an individual who has the legal right and responsibility to take care of a child and his or her needs. These duties typically fall on parents, but when they are unavailable or incapable of providing for a child, a guardianship may be necessary. A guardian has the ability to make medical, educational and financial decisions for a child. Unlike an adoption, though, which severs biological parents' parental rights, a guardianship retains those rights.

Child support worksheet may lead to child support modification

Depending on whether you are a custodial parent or a noncustodial parent, child support can either be a strong financial support or a heavy burden. In an attempt to reach a happy medium, the family law system in Louisiana seeks to establish child support that ensures that each parent is paying his or her fair share. Yet, this "fair share" is determined based on several factors. By knowing what can affect a child support obligation, Louisiana parents can take action, including seeking a child support modification, when warranted.

The best way to figure out a child support obligation is to fill out a child support obligation worksheet. This document collects some basic information on income and expenses to reach a recommended amount of child support to be paid by the noncustodial parent. First, the worksheet asks for each parent's income and assesses what percentage of the total family income their portion makes.

The validity of adoption consents in Louisiana

In order for many Louisianan adoptions to occur, adoption consents must be signed. Typically, only biological parents can consent to adoption, but it might also be necessary to acquire consent from a custodial agency that has placed a child up for adoption. Obtaining these consents may not always be easy, and negotiation via a post-adoption contact agreement may be necessary to obtain them. Sometimes consent is not needed to adopt, though, such as when parental rights have been terminated.

When adoption consents are necessary, there are certain steps that must be followed in order for them to be valid. Ensuring that these steps are followed is critical, as invalid consents could destroy the adoption process and cause unexpected legal nightmares further down the road. Some of the biggest characteristics that must be present in order for a consent to be valid includes ensuring that the biological parent is mentally competent and fully understands what he or she is consenting to. Additionally, under Louisiana law, a biological parent must receive counseling sessions prior to surrendering his or her rights to the trial.

Skilled family law team can address child custody issues

When a relationship in Louisiana comes to an end, whether through divorce or an unmarried couple's breakup, children can be thrust into the center of the split. In these instances, like in the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorce discussed last week, parents may find themselves in heated exchanges over child custody. Whether you are looking to determine initial custody matters out of a divorce, or you are trying to modify child custody, you need to make sure you make strong legal arguments that support your position.

It is critical to understand that, when making a child custody determination, a court will make the best interests of the child a top priority. Therefore, if you are looking to obtain sole custody or limit the other parent's parenting time, then you need to illustrate for the judge why taking that action would be in the child's best interest. Like in the Jolie/Pitt case, you may be able to utilize allegations of abuse and neglect to support your claim, or you can turn to financial, substance abuse and stability matters.

Brad Pitt child abuse allegations may affect child custody

Our media tends to fixate on celebrity couples and their successes and failures. Though many of us may experience fatigue hearing about celebrity divorce and spats over alimony, oftentimes within these stories are lessons to be learned. A Louisianan may be able to better see how a high-asset divorce may affect them and how child support matters can affect their day-to-day lives. Another area where celebrity divorces can be illustrative is child custody.

It was just recently announced that actress Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from her husband and superstar actor Brad Pitt. In a bit of twist to the story, Jolie has indicated in her divorce petition that she will be seeking sole custody of the couple's six children. The divorce filing and custody request come just one day after Pitt allegedly verbally and physically abused his children while on a flight between France and the U.S. The matter was allegedly referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation as it occurred while in the air.

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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