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Baton Rouge Family Law Blog

How do I qualify to adopt a child in Louisiana?

If you are thinking about adopting a child, then you are considering making a huge difference in a child's life. There are many children across Louisiana who are without permanent homes, and the decision to bring one of them into your family means giving them the forever home they deserve. But the process is regulated to ensure child safety and adoptive parents' ability to provide care for the child.

So how do you qualify to be an adoptive parent? First, though it's not required, it should be noted that Louisiana recognizes a dual certification to be both a foster parent and an adoptive parent. Why is this important? Certified foster parents may be eligible for certain benefits that non-certified individuals aren't afforded. Regardless, to qualify to adopt a child you must be 21 or older, have a sufficient income, and be in good overall health. Your marital status is inconsequential when adopting.

What is a Louisiana covenant marriage?

Many Louisianans are familiar with the concept of no-fault divorce, in which a party filing for divorce need only cite irreconcilable differences as the grounds for dissolution. However, there is another type of divorce that is a little less common: the dissolution of a so-called "covenant marriage." Those who have entered into a covenant marriage and are now contemplating divorce will want to carefully consider their legal rights.

A covenant marriage is similar to other marriages, but with two stipulations. First, a couple entering into a covenant marriage agrees to complete marriage counseling in the event that their relationship runs into trouble. Second, the grounds upon which divorce will be granted are restricted. Those wishing to enter into a covenant marriage must sign a declaration of intent, asserting that they have completed marital counseling, are devoted to each other for life, and have disclosed everything about themselves to their significant other.

What counts as income for child support purposes?

Those who have children can find the divorce process especially difficult. Sure, property division and alimony disputes may come into play, and can have a substantial effect on one's financial security moving into post-divorce life, but many parents going through marriage dissolution are most concerned about how to care for their children. For custodial parents, this means seeking out a fair amount of child support from the noncustodial parent.

In Louisiana, the amount of child support a noncustodial parent is ordered to pay is based on guidelines which take into account the combined income of both parents. The idea sounds simple enough, but it can be easily complicated simply by asking what counts as "income." Thankfully, the law provides some guidance. A noncustodial parent's salary and wages, which may include tips, bonuses, and commission, count towards his or her income. In addition, money received from one's pension, trust, and self-employment may be deemed income.

Rowe Law Firm fights for clients going through gray divorce

A divorce can shape your financial future for years to come. This can be particularly true for those who aged 50 and older, as we discussed in last week's post about gray divorce. If you are considering ending your marriage in Louisiana, you want to do everything necessary to ensure you start your post-divorce life with as much financial strength as possible.

To do this, you need to ensure that you address every divorce legal issue that may arise. You have to be prepared to handle property division matters, which includes identifying and valuing assets, and arguing for or against spousal support. If these issues are mishandled, then your soon-to-be ex-spouse could take advantage of you, leaving you with far less than you deserve.

Gray divorce may hit women harder than men financially

Many Louisianans picture their golden years as a time to spend with their loved ones, enjoying a comfortable retirement. This is certainly picturesque, but is it realistic for everyone? Perhaps not for those going through a gray divorce, usually defined as a divorce involving individuals over the age of 50. In fact, studies have shown that these types of divorces, which are on the rise, can leave women with financial difficulties that can drastically affect their golden years.

One reason for such financial hardship for women coming out of a gray divorce is that many of these women have taken significant periods of time off to raise families. Their working ex-husbands, on the other hand, may have an extensive work history and the ability to earn a higher income. Though women who have gone through a gray divorce can certainly still enter the workforce, their options, and their salaries, may be more limited.

The importance of establishing paternity in Louisiana

Establishing paternity is an important step in certain family law matters. Many Louisianans may know what the phrase is referring to (establishing who is the biological father of a child), but some may not be clear on why it is legally significant. We hope this post will help clarify why this critical issue should be addressed, regardless of which side of a family law dispute one falls on.

For women, establishing paternity can be critical for financial support. Once paternity is established, a mother can seek child support from the father. If he fails to pay, then legal action may be taken to compel payment. This is important for mothers, as raising a child on one's own, with one salary, can be difficult and unfair when there is another parent who should share in the financial responsibility.

What is the purpose of spousal support?

Divorce can be an expensive proposition. Property division might leave one individual without the residence in which he or she resided during the marriage, with retirement accounts diminished, and with valuable items of personal property in the hands of an ex-spouse. Child support, too, can be costly. But the expenses associated with a divorce do not necessarily end there. Many Louisianans also have to pay spousal support, which can be expensive and last for a lengthy period of time.

So what is the purpose of spousal support, also referred to as alimony? In short, alimony attempts tolevel the economic playing field when a divorce occurs. Courts don't want one spouse to be left destitute post-marriage, especially when a non-wage earner sacrificed his or her own career to further that of a spouse or to raise children. Additionally, a court may take an interest in allowing a party to a divorce to maintain the standard of living he or she enjoyed while married.

Louisiana post-adoption contact agreements

The choice to adopt is not one to be made lightly. After all, bringing a child into one's home can be a challenge, not to mention having to deal with the lengthy and sometimes contested adoption process. Throughout this process, pre-adoptive families have to make a lot of decisions. Perhaps one of the most important is whether to enter into a post-adoption contact agreement and, if so, what the terms of that agreement should be.

Post-adoption contact agreements in Louisiana don't just apply to birth parents. They can also apply to siblings and grandparents, so long as the child has developed a strong relationship with that individual; cessation of that relationship would cause harm to the child; and the continuance of contact furthers the best interests of the child. So these factors themselves should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to negotiate a post-adoption contact agreement.

We can assist with collaborative divorce in Louisiana

Marriage can be challenging. For some, this is just part of being committed to one's partner. But for others, the bad aspects of their relationships outweigh the good. If you find yourself in this position, then you might be considering divorce, which in itself can be a daunting thought. After all, divorce often involves heated arguments, litigation, and fighting for what you think you deserve.

But this doesn't have to be the case. If you and your spouse are able to communicate in a calm manner, then a collaborative divorce might be right for you. In contrast to a contested, litigated divorce, a collaborative divorce allows you and your spouse to gather a team of professionals to help you work out a divorce agreement that is fair under the circumstances. As we discussed last week, a divorce coach is often an important member of this team.

What is a divorce coach in a collaborative divorce?

Every marriage is different. Similarly, every divorce is unique. Though many of the same issues, such as child custody, child support, alimony and property division, can come into play, the specific assets, individuals and relationships involved can shape the way a divorce unfolds. In an attempt to accommodate varying personalities and divorce situations, there are many types of divorces available to Louisianans. Though traditional litigation is always an option, many opt for a collaborative divorce, where a team is assembled to help a divorcing couple come to an agreement that is fair.

One part of a collaborative divorce team is the divorce coach. This individual, who is typically a mental health professional, works with the couple to help them deal with emotional issues that may arise during settlement negotiations. This person is not a therapist, but can help a couple through their emotional hang ups so that a resolution can be reached. This can be done by working on respectful listening, seeing the situation from the other person's point of view, setting goals for each party's future, discussing the wants and needs of the couple's children, and helping parents realize that the needs of their children should come before their own needs.

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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