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Lafayette Family Law Blog

Refining your conflict resolution style

Family law disputes tend to be uniquely personal affairs. Few things are more personal than the inner workings of any given family. As a result, it can be particularly difficult to keep your negative emotions in check as you navigate a family law dispute. The negative feelings you have as a result of your divorce, child support dispute or other matter may be so personal and so strong that they can be difficult to contain. Unfortunately, if these feelings are not properly addressed, they may manifest in ways that can damage your case.

It is both normal and healthy to feel negative emotions when your family life becomes chaotic. What is truly critical is that you process these emotions in healthy ways that enhance your wellbeing and do not harm your family law case. As you process these negative emotions, it is important for you to keep them in check when dealing with anyone associated with your case. If you find yourself in conflict with your spouse, for example, it is particularly important that you not lash out in ways that may reflect badly on you in court.

Co-parents: It is time to prepare for the holidays

The holidays are fast approaching. Soon, your children will be let out of school for winter vacation and the season of celebration will begin in earnest. When you and your child’s other parent separated or divorced, you likely drew up some sort of parenting plan. Holiday time may or may not have been addressed in that plan. But however your child custody arrangements are structured, it is important that you and your co-parent iron out holiday details as soon as you can.

If you and your child’s other parent do not plan ahead, you risk tension, stress, miscommunication and a frustrating holiday for everyone. Holiday planning is not always pleasant, but it is important. And it is also generally important to ask your children what they want to do, when appropriate. Children are rarely given a chance to voice their feelings about holiday plans. If you ask what they want to do and where they want to be, their answers might surprise you.

Should my alimony payments be modified?

Alimony is a complex obligation. The theory supporting alimony orders aims to ensure that each spouse is given fair access to marital income, assets and (in some cases) experience upon divorce. However, spousal support obligations are not often intended to last until each spouse perishes. Family law has moved away from a lifetime alimony obligation model in recent decades towards a model that supports each spouse’s future independent wellbeing.

Essentially, this means that if the recipient spouse marries another individual post-divorce, the alimony obligations of the paying spouse will generally terminate. This kind of relationship-based grounds for termination will also generally arise if the recipient spouse lives with another romantic partner. In addition, there are other circumstances under which alimony payments will be terminated or modified.

Louisiana's 'covenant marriage' option discourages divorce

Louisiana has a unique matrimonial option for couples who want to foster a higher standard of commitment in their relationships. A "covenant marriage" seeks to ensure that the relationship is not entered into lightly or ended precipitously.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says that to be considered a covenant marriage, both parties must sign a "declaration of intent."

Your surprisingly positive post-divorce checklist

Whether your divorce has been amicable or contentious, you will likely feel a combination of both grief and relief once it is finalized. As you prepare for the finalization of your divorce, you are also preparing for your newly single life. You may be moving to a different residence, altering your work-life and shopping for new possessions, depending on what possessions your spouse opted to keep post-split. The process of transitioning from married life to single life can be unquestionably difficult.

Thankfully, once your divorce is finalized, your to-do list will change somewhat. You may need to continue to shop, move things around and otherwise adjust to living alone. However, once you have weathered the process of divorce, you can begin to live in a way that is more fully devoted to your own needs as opposed to the needs of the process itself.

Conquering your bad habits during and post-divorce

We frequently write about how important it is to take excellent care of yourself during the divorce process. Ultimately, if you allow your negative emotions and habits to rule your divorce process, you may end up with an unfair divorce settlement or an undesirable child custody arrangement. However, we have also acknowledged that it can be difficult to take excellent care of yourself while grieving your marriage and navigating the divorce process.

A few months ago, we published a blog entitled Finding yourself again after divorce. In this piece, we note that finding yourself again in the wake of divorce requires time and effort. Once you have begun to reestablish a healthy sense of self, it becomes time to tackle bad habits. Tackling your bad habits can both help you ensure that your divorce process remains fair and positive and help you establish a solid foundation for a healthy, happy future.

What to know so you can face your custody battle fears

One of the most common ways a jilted spouse will try to get under your skin during divorce proceedings is to threaten to seek full-custody of the children. Indeed, they might have seen one too many episodes of  “The Young & Restless,” or believe that on some level they are the “superior” parent, but more often than not parents begin to panic at the possibility of enduring a custody battle.

With that said, it is important to prepare for custody disputes. So here are three things to take solace in so that you don’t lose your mind worrying about what will happen.  

A pre-wedding legal checklist

Before you may legally wed, you must obtain a marriage license. Depending on where you live and where you opt to hold your marriage ceremony, you may be required to submit to blood testing and other mandates before you may obtain your marriage license. While these state requirements are among the only legal requirements you must respect before you may legally wed, it is important to consider a few other items on your hypothetical pre-wedding legal checklist.

We have noted previously that drafting a prenuptial agreement in advance of your wedding can help to ensure that you and your partner’s interests are protected in the event of divorce. However, drafting this kind of legal contract can also help you clarify your financial and moral expectations of your marriage before you walk down the aisle. Taking time to scrutinize your expectations and values together may save you from marital tension later on.

Fraud in the inducement of marriage... what about divorce?

Most states have moved to a no-fault divorce system. This means that a spouse is not required to prove fault in the marriage such as adultery or fraud. It certainly does not mean that these are no longer sufficient grounds for divorce. What if the divorce itself is fraudulent?

A man recently filed a lawsuit in Louisiana against his ex-wife based on a fraudulent divorce. In this case, the divorce was filed in another jurisdiction. It was also filed and a judgement was entered without his knowledge.

Should unwed dads get a paternity test before paying support?

The "average" family doesn't always fit into the nuclear definition. Blended families with unwed parents, children born outside of marriage or children from a previous relationship are quite common, and the adults are more than willing to voluntarily take on traditional parental obligations. 

What happens when the relationship changes? Under Louisiana law, paternity must be established before a mother can legally force a father to pay child support. What if the father willingly agrees to pay? Should he be concerned with taking a paternity test first?

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