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Lafayette Family Law Blog

Collaborative divorce can help couples talk through issues

Numerous Louisiana couples have used divorce mediation to get through the divorce process without relying on the court to make decisions on their behalf. In recent years, another alternative method to help couples talk through issues in their divorces is collaborative divorce. This approach to divorce has gained popularity in recent years due to its philosophy of fostering amicable negotiations that lead to a satisfactory settlement.

This may sound like divorce mediation, but collaborative divorce places certain restrictions on the participants. Each party and their respective attorneys sign an agreement to work together in good faith and to be as transparent as possible. It also requires the parties to seek different divorce counsel if they decide that the negotiations are not going anywhere.

Consider these issues before property distribution

Splitting up assets in a divorce may not be as clear-cut as Louisiana residents believe at first glance. Before sitting down to negotiate a divorce settlement, each party needs to do some research regarding the assets they intend to split. Certain issues require consideration before property distribution is finalized and takes place. Otherwise, one or both parties could end up with significant financial regrets later.

Everyone hears that their finances may take a hit after a divorce, but most people simply attribute that to the fact that the income that used to support one household now has to support two. However, that is not the whole story. Many assets may appear to be equal on paper, but the reality is much different. For instance, keeping the marital home could be a dire financial mistake after calculating the mortgage loan payments, repairs and maintenance that it may require.

Make the most of your visitation

When it comes to child custody, not all Louisiana families can share parenting time anywhere close to equally. One parent may need to be designated as the primary custodian while the other receives visitation. This may occur for any number of reasons such as work schedules, distance and the like. If you are the noncustodial parent, regardless of your reasons for doing so, you can still make the most of your visitation as you work out a parenting agreement.

For instance, since you will not have the children as often as the other parent does, you may work in a schedule of phone calls to keep in touch with your children. You may even work in some face-to-face communications through technologies such as webcams, Skype or Facetime. The number of technological options seems to grow each year, and as a noncustodial parent, you can take full advantage of them.

Does establishing paternity have any significance on your case?

Fathers' rights are a tenuous issue in Louisiana, and many fathers feel that they are fighting an uphill battle when seeking fair visitation time or a strong relationship with their children. For some fathers, this process can be even more complicated when they had never married the mother of their children.

For individuals in this situation, it could be necessary to establish paternity. This step could be the foundation of establishing your rights as a father and securing the appropriate amount of time you need with your child. These are complex family law concerns, and you would be wise not to navigate these issues by yourself. 

You can protect your credit with divorce mediation

Ending a marriage often feels more like ending a business than a relationship. There are assets to divide, and debts as well. If you were ending a business relationship, you would probably want certain assurances that you will not end up liable for your partner's debts. The same could be said in a Louisiana divorce, which is why you may want to take full advantage of divorce mediation in order to protect your credit and your financial future.

It may not be terribly difficult to determine which of you will take on what debts. The problem is in making sure that neither party has to look over his or her shoulder for a creditor to come knocking and demanding payment on a debt that the other party pledged to pay in the divorce settlement. This may take some time and careful drafting.

The downside of joint legal child custody

During a marriage, parents make major decisions in the lives of their children -- many without even thinking twice. When they disagree, they work it out one way or another. What about when Louisiana parents are divorced? Disagreements regarding child custody, including joint legal custody, can quickly devolve into courtroom battles.

Most Louisiana courts give parents joint legal custody in a divorce. The parents will need to consult with each other on decisions such as religion, education and health care. This sounds like a brilliant plan to most parents as they go through their divorce proceedings since each of them retains some control over the future of the children.

Take care when dividing debts during divorce mediation

Dividing property, deciding custody and determining support issues may be your main concern as you go through the process of going from a married couple to single individuals. These issues do need to be dealt with, and there is often a great deal of advice on how to do that during divorce mediation. However, one important topic that requires just as much attention in your Louisiana divorce is your marital debts.

There is often much more to dividing marital debts than just deciding who takes the MasterCard and who takes the Visa. You need to understand how much is owed and to whom before making any decisions. Your credit report may be a good place to start. Once all of the relevant information is gathered, you can decide how to handle the marital debts.

As a father, you have the right to seek support modifications

As a father, you hope to play a pivotal role in your children's lives. However, because of divorce and child custody terms, you may feel that you do not get the opportunity to be in your children's lives as much as you would like. You may feel some sense of pride in providing child support payments as this action allows you to ensure that your children's needs are met.

Though you may want to continue making your payments as the terms dictate, you may find yourself facing financial hardships that make your arrangements difficult to keep up with. As a result, you may feel that you have failed your children, and you may also fear facing legal repercussions for missing payments. When faced with such a scenario, you may wish to consider petitioning for support modifications.

Putting an end to the marriage violence in your relationship

Many Louisiana residents think it could never happen to them, but it does happen in nearly 20 percent of all marriages across the country. Marriage violence takes many forms and crosses all income levels, and at some point, there are always physical and emotional components. Putting an end to the violence in these relationships often requires a particular kind of courage for which victims should be commended.

The violence often begins with something as innocuous as a push or a shove. Leaving these behaviors unchecked could easily cause an escalation to occur. The physical injuries that result could be severe or even deadly. 

What happens if you can’t make child support payments?


Most Louisiana parents work diligently to provide for their kids regardless of whether they are married, separated or divorced. In cases where the parents are no longer together, the court will more than likely order one parent to pay child support. The failure to make those payments as ordered could result in harsh penalties that may drastically affect the life of the non-paying parent.

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