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Lafayette Family Law Blog

New bill could help domestic abuse victims in divorce filings

Sometimes relationships do not turn out the way both partners envisioned. When a person's spouse resorts to domestic abuse, victims may question whether they should leave the abusive partner. The legal complications involved can be emotionally difficult for victims who seek to divorce because of domestic abuse. However, a new bill that recently passed in the state's House of Representatives may simplify the process for those seeking a divorce in Louisiana if enacted into law.

The goal of the new bill is to provide an easier method of proving domestic abuse in divorce proceedings. The bill would change the law so that only one witness is needed to testify, and it would allow the victimized spouse to serve as the witness. In addition to relieving some of the burden of proof in providing extra witnesses, this also helps protect children by not requiring them to serve as witnesses.

Family law: Blended families can benefit from estate planning

Families come in all shapes and sizes these days. Those with children from previous marriages are often called "blended" families. It is especially important for those in this situation to think about the future in terms of estate planning because they may have more family members to take into consideration. An experienced family law attorney can help advise Louisiana families regarding the choices available to them.

One issue families may want to discuss with an attorney is updating beneficiary designations and existing wills. People often list their spouse or children as beneficiaries of retirement accounts, insurance policies and wills. When remarriages occur, these are sometimes forgotten. By considering new family dynamics and updating these records with current information, future legal dilemmas could be avoided.

Financial accounts part of property distribution

Over the past decade or so, the average age when a Louisiana couple decides to marry has increased. There are many reasons for this increase in age, including the desire to become established in a career first and the increase in couples who decide to live together first. In addition to the decision to wait longer before tying the knot, fewer couples are deciding to divorce. This increase in age and career growth typically results in greater concerns when it comes to property distribution.

While the trend towards divorce may be on the decline, there are still many individuals who realize that they have made a mistake. In some cases, this mistake is easily corrected, the couple parts ways and continues on with life. However, for other couples, this mistake now entails numerous financial obstacles and concerns in addition to the emotional turmoil.

Property division can cause complications during divorce

Louisiana couples who are contemplating divorce face several challenges. One of those challenges is how to account for property division. This can be especially difficult for couples who own multiple real estate properties. Discussing this topic in advance can help avoid tensions in the future.

When it comes to dividing up property, one important issue is determining whether each spouse wants to keep the home. Some couples prefer to sell the house and split the profit. In other cases, however, one spouse wants to remain in the home. In this event, the spouse who wants to stay typically buys out the other spouse. Couples with young children will sometimes agree to wait to sell and allow one spouse to live in the house until the children are grown.

When is spousal support available in Louisiana divorce?

Spousal support, maintenance or alimony, as it is sometimes called, can be an important issue in divorce. Although most couples tend to square up financially in the property division aspect of the dissolution process, in some cases it is appropriate to seek out a spousal support award. Spousal support can be either interim, until the divorce is completed, or final.

Although fault is generally not a relevant issue for other aspects of divorce in Louisiana, it is relevant in spousal support proceedings, since state law provides that final periodic support may only be awarded to a party who needs it and is free from fault prior to filing of divorce.

Your parenting rights in a co-parenting agreement

Child custody is one of the most important and most difficult issues that must be resolved between two parents who are not married or who divorce. Any legal disputes involving children can be extremely emotional, yet many Louisiana parents are able to set these difficult emotions aside in order to design a parenting plan that puts the need of the children first.

This kind of cooperative approach can provide a smooth transition to post-divorce life and help ensure continuity of lifestyle for the children. As with any type of custody agreement, you would be wise to ensure that a final order affords a full protection of your parental rights.

Property distribution in a gray divorce can be complicated

In Louisiana and elsewhere, gray divorce is on the rise and has been since the 1990s. In fact, 25 percent of all divorces involve spouses who are 50 or older. While it does not matter at what stage in life a couple decides to end their marriage, getting divorced at a later stage can have a massive impact on one's retirement years. Property distribution in a gray divorce can be complicated, but it is worth taking the time to get it right so that retiring comfortably is still possible.

Couples who go through late in life divorces are often fairly well-off and have some substantial assets to split. The biggest asset most share is the marital home. In some cases, one party may wish to keep the home and give up monetary assets in order to do so. While keeping the home may feel like a good idea, sometimes it is just not worth it for financial reasons. Before making such a decision, it is wise to look at how keeping the house will affect one's economic situation in the long run.

Restraining orders offer protection to domestic violence victims

Every day in Louisiana, men, women and children are subjected to violence in the home. Domestic violence is a very real problem, and one that the state takes very seriously, as the long-term damage that results from abuse experienced in the home can be devastating. Those who are victims of domestic violence do have the ability to seek protection by filing for restraining orders.

Those who wish to obtain restraining orders -- sometimes called protective orders -- must file the appropriate petition in court. If the request is approved, the alleged abuser will not be permitted to contact or come near the petitioner. If the abuser fails to abide by the terms of a protective order, he or she will likely face criminal charges.

Restraining orders available for victims of domestic violence

Domestic violence affects numerous families in Louisiana every year. This is an issue that law enforcement officials take very seriously, as the damage this type of behavior causes can be devastating. Victims of domestic violence have the ability to seek restraining orders to help them find relief. If you desire an order of protection, an experienced attorney can help you take the steps necessary to obtain one.

Restraining orders, also referred to as protective orders, can only be obtained by filing a petition in court. If approved, an alleged abuser will be legally unable to contact or come within a certain distance of the petitioner. Abusers who violate the terms of restraining orders may face criminal charges.

Fathers' rights for unmarried dads

In the past 10 years, the number of unwed fathers has jumped over 20 percent. Unfortunately, many of those fathers are not an influential part of their children's lives. Parenting experts believe this may be because unwed men are not aware of their fathers' rights and responsibilities. These advocates feel that fathers would participate more fully in their children's lives if they knew how.

As soon as a man learns of a pregnancy for which he may be responsible, he can begin to establish paternal rights. Louisiana, like many states, has established a putative father registry where a man can declare himself to be the father of a child. Claiming paternity gives a man advantages regarding the adoption or custody of the child.

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