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Lafayette Family Law Blog

Senate passes law aimed at protecting domestic violence victims

For those in violent or abusive marriages, the presence of weapons in the home can pose a serious danger. Louisiana lawmakers recently addressed this serious safety issue by presenting new gun control legislation aimed at protecting domestic violence victims. The legislation, which has been passed by the Senate and is now being reviewed by the House, would prevent people who have been targeted with a restraining order from obtaining a firearm. It also would increase the penalty for those who violate a protective order by possessing firearms.

Currently, abuse victims in Louisiana are protected by a 2014 law that bans domestic violence offenders from owning guns. However, some lawmakers believe that additional frameworks and protections are needed to enforce this law. New legislation designed to provide this framework passed the Senate with 29 yes votes and 5 opposed.

Property distribution and debt distribution in divorce

When people discuss separation agreements, the division of assets is often a hot topic. But what about the division of liabilities, such as shared debt? It is a good idea for Louisiana couples to be familiar with the state laws that govern marital debt and property distribution before going forward with a divorce. 

While some property distribution issues are debateable in a divorce or separation agreement, other standards are dictated by state law. Lousiana is one of the nine community property states. This means that, regardless of whose name a debt is under, both parties are responsible for any debt accumulated during a marriage. This also applies to debts that were hidden from or opposed by one party, so full financial disclosure early on is very important.

How can I establish paternity so I can seek custody of my kids?

You and your significant other decided to call it quits. You learned after the fact that she was pregnant, had the baby and failed to put you on the birth certificate. Now you have a child but have no rights to him or her. This leaves you wondering what the state of Louisiana requires you to do in order to establish paternity so that you can seek custody of your child.

Seeking paternity is more than just taking a DNA test. The courts do need to get involved so that if a DNA test comes back positive, you can get approval to seek custody and go through that whole process. So, where do you need to start?

Child custody and paternity rights questioned in unusual case

Precedents set by unique legal scenarios often change the way future cases are considered by judges. In Louisiana, a complicated child custody case is raising questions about how paternity is treated in the case of a child conceived through a sperm donor. The man, who is listed on the child's birth certificate, is fighting to be recognized as the father of his ex-girlfriend's child.

The case has led to a lawmaker in New Orleans filing a bill in support of the man and others like him. The bill would make it more difficult to challenge the paternity of someone listed as a "father" on the birth certificate. Currently, state law allows "acknowledgment of paternity" to be voided for nonbiological fathers who were never married to the mother.

Criminal charges can result from violating a child custody ruling

When a family court renders a decision about where a child must live, it is very important that both parents follow this decision. In fact, ignoring court-ordered child custody is a criminal offence. Parishes across Louisiana get many calls each year about this issue, and police often need to get involved.

Separation and divorce is undoubtedly deeply emotional, especially when disputes over child custody are involved. Court systems are designed with the best interests of the child in mind, but sometimes one parent may disagree with their rulings. However, if that parent or anyone else violates the court order, they could be arrested on criminal charges.

Engaged couples should talk through issues to avoid divorce drama

Engagements are exciting occasions, and many may think that discussing the possibility of divorce at this time will take away from the romance or hopes for the future. However, Louisiana couples can protect themselves from a great deal of financial and emotional difficulty should the marriage not work out by having conversations early. This kind of planning and negotiation when things are going well can make it easier to talk through issues should things go wrong later on.

When a couple first gets engaged, they are typically excited and in love. This affection and optimism can make it easy to talk through issues, even if those conversations are uncomfortable. It can also help people avoid divorce altogether by raising serious issues before walking down the aisle.

How to handle pet custody through divorce mediation

While child custody is commonly discussed in family law, one issue that gets less coverage is custody of pets. However, this issue comes up in many divorce cases across Louisiana and the United States. Through divorce mediation, these issues can often result in joint custody agreements, financial support agreements for vet bills and other negotiated settlements.

In the United States, 68 percent of households own a pet. When divorce occurs in those households, judges need to act according to state law. For example, in some states judges can take the animal's welfare into consideration in a pet custody case, while in others animals are treated as property. Settlements also often cover issues such as how to exchange the animal in the case of shared custody or whether one partner should help with vet bills.

My ex believes child support and custody to be intertwined

You and your wife decided to end your marriage. You went through the divorce process, reaching a settlement on your assets, children and financial support obligations. You've been meeting your end of the deal and supplying the court ordered amount in child support, until now. You've experienced a change in circumstances and can no longer afford to keep paying so much. Your ex believes that support and custody are intertwined and is now refusing to let you see your kids. What can you do?

It doesn't matter if you live in Louisiana or elsewhere, child custody and child support are separate issues. Your ex cannot refuse to let you see your children during your scheduled time just because you are struggling to meet your financial obligation.

Common misconceptions about domestic abuse

Domestic violence is often misunderstood by both those inside and outside of abusive relationships. Those facing abuse at home in Louisiana may struggle not only with the issue they are facing at home, but the many misconceptions held by those around them. Here are a few of the common myths about domestic violence.

One of the most common myths about domestic abuse is that it is only physical. In fact, many people are damaged by hurtful actions or controlling behavior in relationships even if no physical contact is made. Another myth is that men are the only people who perpetrate domestic violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dispelled this myth by reporting that one in seven men in the United States have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act law changes spousal support taxation

While state law defines many of the issues around spousal support, the basic taxation of alimony payments has been consistent throughout the United States for the last 75 years. Up until this point, spousal support has been deductible for the payer and reportable as income for the recipient. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, however, spousal support divorcees in Louisiana and across the United States will see this switch as it will no longer be deductible for the payer.

This change could complicate negotiations in some divorces, as the current tax relief can help soften payers and move negotiations along. This will increase the tax burden on many of the couples seeking a divorce, as the payer of spousal support often is in a higher tax bracket than the recipient. This may mean that Louisiana couples will have a tougher time negotiating their divorces after Dec. 31, 2018, or that they may choose to stay together for financial reasons.

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