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Lafayette Family Law Blog

Fathers still seeking fair child custody arrangements

Advocates for fathers' rights say they have seen significant improvements in divorces involving children. In the past 20 years, child custody cases have become more focused on the best interests of the child, and many parents are willing to set aside their differences and work for that goal. However, studies show that many divorced dads are still fighting for regular, adequate contact with their children. While the situation may be improving, some feel there are still too many disadvantages that keep fathers in Louisiana separated from their children.

One major stumbling block for many fathers is money. Because of child support obligations, many fathers have little cash left to establish a home for their children. One man explained that his time with his children is limited because there is simply no space for them in his tiny home, and he cannot afford to buy a bigger place. Some advocates for fathers' rights also feel that restraining orders and accusations of domestic violence are overused in family court and often force already struggling fathers into expensive rehabilitation programs.

To simpify property division, separated couples evaluate finances

Often when couples in Louisiana consider divorce, they do not have a clear idea of how drastically their financial situations may change. Along with property division comes the division of debt, and this may take its toll on any savings or plans for the future. The possibility of a couple in a troubled marriage being able to peacefully discuss finances may be slim, but if they take advantage of the separation period to make some decisions, things might go more smoothly during and after the proceedings.

One major decision many couples must make is what to do with the house in the event of a divorce. Each state has particular rules about living arrangements during a separation, and couples should contact their individual attorneys for advice. Meanwhile, some couples opt to rent out their homes until they decide on the fate of their marriages. That way, if they decide to stay together, they still have their home.

In contested divorce, electronic evidence is becoming the norm

Within the past decade, many divorce proceedings in Louisiana have involved a different kind of expert witness: the family computer. Some attorneys have contributed to a dramatic increase in the investigation of social media in contested divorce cases in the past three years. They use it not merely to gather evidence against a client's adversary, but to gain a better understanding of the client and the circumstances leading to the divorce.

Former congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin have been embroiled in a highly public divorce after Mr. Weiner's electronic communications revealed his infidelities. With Ms. Abedin's request for divorce came an investigation of her husband's data, some of which became public. While most people will not have federal investigators scrutinizing their emails and texts, advisors recommend that people use their technology as if this were the case, especially if a divorce is on the horizon.

Best interests of the child ignored as adults fight for custody

A woman with temporary custody of her five-year-old grandson had cause for concern following recent events. Like many grandmothers in Louisiana and elsewhere, she says she is seeking the best interests of the child. However, authorities have removed the child from her custody indefinitely as an already bitter custody batter turned dangerous.

The child was removed from his mother's custody after a teacher reported seeing welts on his back. The mother, who was subsequently arrested for child endangerment, admitted she had struck the child with a belt to teach him not to play with fire. Authorities granted the grandmother temporary custody while the mother took parenting and anger management classes. When the state denied the mother's request to regain custody of the child, the two women entered a heated dispute.

Adjusting child support: Avoiding nonpayment

Especially in the early process of divorce, the proceedings can be difficult and downtime abundant. When the courts create a temporary custody and support arrangement, there can often be flaws in how the plan is arranged, which can lead to an unfair burden for the noncustodial parent. If you are worried about what your potential child support payments will be, or if you are already struggling with a burdensome amount of child support, consulting with an experienced attorney is the best way to set things right.

New child support rule may benefit incarcerated parents

When a person is in jail in Louisiana, he or she has few resources to pay debts. In 2010, a study showed that over 50 percent of those incarcerated in federal prisons while ordered to make child support payments were behind in their obligations. That number has likely risen in the past six years. The average amount of child support debt among inmates is $24,000. While the current administration prepares to leave office, there is hope that something will be done to alleviate this burden for some prisoners.

Those who are ordered to make regular child support payments are not relieved of that obligation while behind bars. In fact, the debt often accumulates along with interest, fines and penalties. President Obama has drafted a bill requiring all states to allow modification of child support orders for prisoners. Child support payments would also be based on the actual income of an inmate. It is hoped that such measures will prevent the accumulation of crushing debt during a person's incarceration.  

Fathers' rights: 3 areas that deserve your attention

If you are struggling with matters associated with fathers' rights, it's important to learn more about your legal rights and how to move forward in a manner that allows you to spend time with your child (or children).

Even in today's age, when gender bias is a hot button issue, fathers often feel out of place in the courtroom. Instead of feeling like a parent, the father feels like nothing more than a visitor. Below are three details that deserve your full and undivided attention, as focusing on these will help you better understand your situation:

Property division not easy for man with $20 million settlement

There are at least two sides to every divorce. This may be especially true when it comes to property division and determining the status of certain assets. In most cases in Louisiana, marital property includes anything that was acquired while a couple was married. However, sometimes it takes the courts to determine the extent to which that definition reaches.

When one woman in another state met her future husband, he was serving life in prison for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. She visited him regularly and wrote him dozens of letters. While he was still incarcerated, they were married. Her devotion even prompted her to present his case to a group that advocates for those wrongly accused of crimes. The result was the review of DNA evidence and the exoneration of her husband after 20 years behind bars.

October is dedicated to domestic abuse awareness

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. In Louisiana and across the country, people are gathering for walks, rallies and lectures, wearing the purple ribbons that represent the cause. Often, these events culminate in a candlelight vigil where victims of deadly abuse are remembered, and promises are made to work even harder to prevent future tragedies.

Some people who survived a period of domestic abuse looked back at the beginnings of their relationships and found similarities and patterns that are now seen as early indications that the relationship may turn violent. What may seem at first like the behavior of a devoted partner may actually be signs of a controlling and potentially violent personality. For example, a person may be quick to suggest marriage or living together, or insist on spending every spare moment together.

Property distribution only one aspect of Pitt/Jolie divorce

Unlike high profile celebrity couples such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, people in Louisiana may be fortunate to maintain some privacy about their personal lives. This may be especially true if they are going through a painful divorce. No matter how straightforward a marriage dissolution may be, a couple's property distribution and child custody considerations are unique and may require special attention.

Experienced divorce attorneys may say that a couple with a prenuptial agreement has already done a lot of the work of asset division that goes into a divorce. If the two have no children, the situation may be less complicated than it is for a couple who must negotiate custody and support details. In many states, there are already guidelines and formulas mandated for those decisions. With these safeguards in place, the chances of having a civil, agreeable divorce may improve.   

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