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Lafayette Family Law Blog

Knowledge is power in an uncontested divorce

In many Louisiana homes, one spouse takes on the responsibility of keeping track of the household finances, assets and liabilities. This may work well during the marriage, but in a divorce, it could put one party at a disadvantage. Gaining an understanding of the marital finances, assets and liabilities could be the push needed to move a potentially contested divorce into an uncontested divorce since both parties have the same information.

These days, many Louisiana couples are opting not to battle out in court. This makes knowing what comprises the current marital estate crucial. Neither party is required to rely on the other when it comes to the family finances, and in fact, it would be a good idea for each party to do his or her own homework.

Your family is unique and so is your uncontested divorce

Well-meaning family, friends and colleagues may provide you unsolicited advice when you announce that your marriage is ending. Even if they have been through a divorce, that does not mean that what they went through applies to you. Every family is unique, and your uncontested divorce will be the same.

Having said that, some similarities do exist among all divorces. First, here in Louisiana, you and your spouse must live separately for a minimum of six months (without minor children) to one year (with minor children). Of course, under some circumstances such as domestic abuse or adultery, this waiting period may not apply. Every divorce must be filed with the correct Louisiana court, which will issue the final order regarding your divorce.

Fathers can seek child support modifications if needed

For parents in Louisiana and elsewhere, child support can be a rather contentious topic. Yes, it is important to make sure your children receive all that they need, but determining how much economic support is actually required to accomplish this can be a challenge.

Whether you have custody of your children or are a father who has orders to provide financial support, you do have the right to seek modifications to your order if you feel doing so is needed. How do you do this? Why might you want to? How can an attorney help you?

Consider the following before signing prenuptial agreements

Are you about to be married? Has your soon-to-be spouse asked you to consider a prenup? Before you go forward with any plans to sign one, you should consider the following potential downsides of prenuptial agreements. You probably already know of the advantages you may receive from such an agreement in the event of a Louisiana divorce, but you need to be equally aware of the disadvantages.

Your love for your intended spouse could prevent you from protecting your own interests. You may give up your right to claim at least a portion of an asset that would otherwise be considered marital property in a divorce. For example, if the other party owns a business and you give up any claim to it, any increase in its value during the marriage could be lost to you.

What a protective order does for you and how to get one

When you married, you probably trusted that your spouse would cherish you, take care of you and keep you free from harm. Unfortunately, at some point along the way, your spouse betrayed that trust and began harming you physically. Now, you look to Louisiana's legal system to protect you by seeking a protective order, but have questions about how to obtain one and how it works for you.

When you seek a protective order from the court, the first order issued will be a temporary restraining order. If granted, the court issues a Uniform Abuse Prevention Order right away, which is sent to the court clerk to be filed and forwarded to the Louisiana Protective Order Registry. The order is also served upon your spouse. The next step involves attending a hearing to determine whether the temporary order should be extended up to 18 months.

Is politics leading to contested and uncontested divorce filings?

The election of 2016 could go down in history as one of the most controversial. In fact, the controversies invaded many Louisiana homes. The tension reached such heights in some homes that it led to contested and uncontested divorce filings.

A recent survey by Wakefield Research indicates that one out of every 10 couples split over politics in recent months. It did not matter whether the couples were unmarried or married. Over the last six months, political disagreements have overshadowed one of the most prevalent reasons for relationship woes -- money. In addition, family law attorneys report that an increasing number of filing they see involves political breakups. 

Asserting Louisiana fathers' rights as an unmarried dad

Obviously, Louisiana residents do not have to be married in order to have children together. When a relationship is going well, the issue of unwed fathers' rights might not be a priority. However, if the relationship ends and the parties go their separate ways, these rights and responsibilities become paramount for both parties.

When it comes to custody issues, courts here in Louisiana and around the country consider the best interests of the child. In most cases, this means including both parents in a child's life. Therefore, the courts often begin with the assumption that a child's biological father should be granted custody or visitation depending on what will be best for the child. Before any custody decisions can be made, however, the issue of paternity must be resolved.

Do unwed Louisiana fathers really need a paternity test?

Having a child -- whether married or not -- is typically a joyous occasion in the lives of parents. Many Louisiana parents love to show off their new family additions and are proud to claim them. However, for unwed fathers, simply saying they are the father is not enough to enforce the legal rights that go along with having a child. This makes establishing paternity a must for fathers, but also for their children.

The benefits available to a child such as Social Security, insurance coverage and an inheritance are not automatic for a child of unmarried parents. In addition, without formally establishing paternity, a biological father may not have access to important medical information, make medical decisions or provide medical information that could affect the child's health. If the father and the child's mother separate, a legal recognition of paternity allows for the resolution of custody, visitation and support issues.

Fathers can seek custody modifications too

Even though laws favor shared custody, many fathers in Louisiana feel that courts are ignoring their rights when it comes to child custody. If you are unhappy with your current child custody arrangements, you may take actions to do something about it. After all, fathers can seek custody modifications, too; this is not a right reserved just for mothers.

How does one go about seeking an order modification? Why bother seeking an adjustment? How long does the process take?

Can you turn a contested divorce into an uncontested divorce?

Every Louisiana family is unique. Attempting to fit your circumstances into check boxes and fill-in-the-blank forms just does not work. Whether you face a contested or uncontested divorce, you deserve the ability to reach a settlement of your design.

Many couples begin their divorces thinking that it will be contentious, but it does not have to be that way. After the initial shock, and anger and hurt have time to dissipate, you and your soon-to-be former spouse might be able to sit down at the negotiating table and work out your issues without involving the court. Judges are bound to remain within certain parameters set out in Louisiana's family laws, so the options are often limited.

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