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Lafayette Family Law Blog

Understand what you're up against as a father seeking custody

The media makes it appear as though fathers no longer face some discrimination in courtrooms when it comes to gaining custody of their children. That may be true in some jurisdictions, but here in Louisiana, you will probably face an uphill battle if you want custody of your children.

The importance of fathers in the lives of their children continues to gain momentum in the courts, but a long way to go remains. That is not to say that you cannot obtain custody of your children or a closer to 50/50 parenting time arrangement. It simply means that you will want to prepare for your hearing and leave little to nothing to chance.

2019 tax changes set to affect spousal support

Post-divorce support payments are a common feature of Louisiana family law. Spousal support is just one such payment that involves one person making temporary, regular payments to an ex. In some cases support takes the form of a single, lump sum. The goal is to provide sufficient financial support until such a time that the recipient is stable. With the effective date of certain changes to the federal tax laws approaching, some couples may want to consider finalizing their divorces before the end of the year. 

Currently, those who pay alimony can deduct it on their taxes while recipients are taxed on the amount as income. This is different than how other payments -- such as child support -- are treated, which is essentially as tax-neutral. Child support payments are not taxed on either the paying or receiving side and neither can deduct the amounts. 

A temporary child custody order is a good idea for most parents

Most people hope for a quick and painless conclusion to their divorce proceedings. Unfortunately, real life is often very different. Divorces in Louisiana can and do drag on, leaving many people worried about their finances, children and more. Temporary orders are a smart option for those who need to address child custody, child support or other important issues before their divorce is finalized. 

No one wants to be in a divorce that seems to take forever, but getting from the point of filing the initial paperwork to being officially divorced can take longer than most people expect. During this time, parents still need to continue parenting and providing financial support regardless of whether they live in the same household as their children. Temporary custody orders give parents the ability to put things in order as they sort out the other aspects of their divorce. 

Is physical abuse the only type of domestic violence?

The definition of domestic violence that most people are familiar with is actually fairly narrow. Although domestic violence can and often does take the form of physical abuse, this is not always the case. Understanding exactly how violence in a relationship may manifest is important for helping Louisiana victims know when to seek help. 

The United States Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women defines domestic violence as patterns of abusive behaviors used by one person in a relationship to keep control over his or her partner. Physical abuse is a common tactic and can include anything from hitting and slapping to pulling hair and pinching. This type of abuse can happen even if a person does not put his or her hands on an intimate partner but instead denies the individual access to necessary medical care. Other forms of abuse include emotional, economic, psychological, sexual, stalking and even cyberstalking.

Do you really need to read prenuptial agreements before signing?

Using a prenuptial agreement to safeguard assets and protect oneself from debt is a great option for most people in Louisiana. Although prenups may have risen in popularity recently, it is important to remember that they are legal documents that have real-life implications. Those choosing to use prenuptial agreements should be certain that they carefully read and understand everything in the document before signing. 

Lisa Marie Presley's ex-husband Michael Lockwood recently told a judge that he never understood the prenuptial agreement he signed. He also admitted that although he had signed two postnuptial agreements in 2007, he had never actually read them. At some points he apparently contradicted himself, saying both that he had not read these agreements and that he also did not understand them. 

Angelina Jolie goes after Brad Pitt for child support

Movie fans often idolize celebrity actors and actresses, but they do not have all the answers to life's big issues. Most still struggle with the same issues that people in Louisiana face, even if on a slightly larger scale. Tension over child support, custody and asset division are still common features of celebrity divorces.

Angelina Jolie split from her husband Brad Pitt back in Sept. 2016. Since then, Jolie has apparently been the primary caregiver for the couple's six children, and she claims Pitt has not paid anything in child support. She recently took this claim to court, pointing out that she has shouldered the financial burden of child rearing for the past two years.

It's not all about child support -- plan for college too

Louisiana parents are often hyper-focused on their children during divorce. From figuring out child support to creating the best possible custody agreement, parents know that they need to have a close eye on their children's well-being as well as their futures. However, many parents still miss out on planning for an essential aspect of their kids' future -- college. 

College tuition is notoriously expensive, and recent rate hikes may make the costs seem impossible for the average 18-year-old student to handle alone. While many take out loans and use scholarships, many parents also help pay. So how will this work when a student's parents are divorced? Well, that is largely up to them. 

Being a father and a co-parent isn't always easy

Even though the concept of what makes a family has changed in recent years, it seems as though people still tend to discount fathers as valuable members of the co-parenting team. This means that you may have some stereotypes and preconceived notions to overcome as you embark on your journey as a divorced parent.

When it comes to negotiating a parenting plan, you shouldn't feel as though you can't fight for your fair share of the time with the kids. You have just as much right to be a parent to your children as their mother does, and your children need to know that you want to be in their lives as well.

Is divorce mediation right for you?

Ending a marriage is just as much an emotional process as a legal one. However, the image that popular movies and TV shows paint of drawn out court battles, yelling officials and limited communication is not really accurate for most people. The vast majority of Louisiana couples can utilize mediation to end their marriages in a much more civilized and self-fulfilling manner. 

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution that gives divorcing couples the ability to determine their own futures. Instead of leaving important decisions up to a judge who is familiar with the situation only through the evidence submitted in court, you can craft your own agreement that best reflects the long-term interests of you, your ex and any children you may share. This approach is usually cheaper and quicker, too. Mediation may also be more effective in the long run, with some studies showing that your ex is more likely to stick to the terms of your agreement. 

Prenups can protect against student loans in property division

Money issues are one of the top causes of stress for the average couple in Louisiana. While financial troubles can cover a wide range of topics, student loans in particular can be especially problematic. Not only can these massive loans be a contributing factor in divorce, they can also present some serious property distribution issues. 

Nationwide, student loan debt stands at a record high of $1.5 trillion. For the average person that comes out to about $34,144, which is 62 percent higher than it was just 10 years ago. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the number of student loan debtors who owe more than $50,000 tripled over the same decade. 

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