Eric S. Neumann, APLC
Family law attorney serving clients in Lafayette and throughout Acadiana
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Lafayette Divorce Blog

How does community property work?

The classification of property acquired during marriage is vital for property division and what a spouse keeps or gives up following divorce. Louisiana is one of the nine "community property" states.

"Community property" is property that is obtained during marriage through the work or skill of either spouse. A spouse owns an undivided one-half interest in this property with their spouse. A spouse cannot sell, mortgage or lease their interest until it is divided.

Dealing with finances after divorce

Going through settlement negotiations or litigation and issuance of the divorce decree does not end all the financial and legal issues after the end of a marriage. There are still practical matters that must be addressed following the end of this often long and tedious process.

First, cancelling joint credit cards and establishing sole credit for one spouse is important and should be done immediately. This also prevents a former spouse for running up debt for both spouses.

What are some the most common causes of divorce?

While no couple that gets married plans to divorce, many will wind up doing just that. Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that "marital disruption" occurs in 22 percent of couples during their initial half-decade of marriage. If they manage to hang in there for two decades, 53 percent of couples will experience a disruption.

With the odds being what they are, it's important to understand what types of problems cause marriages to unravel. Below are some of the most common reasons for divorce.

Understanding child custody is an important part of divorce

When parents in Louisiana divorce, one of the most important aspects of their split involves who will have custody of their child. There are two types of child custody. Knowing the difference is important for planning for a family's future.

The parent with legal custody has the right and responsibility to make decisions on their child's health, education, welfare and other important matters. A parent with physical custody lives with their child.

Don't make these common courtroom mistakes in a divorce

When a couple in Louisiana decides to end their marriage, it may be the first time they are facing a judge in court. Courtroom behavior can have long-term consequences on child custody, property division and support in a divorce. Litigants should avoid behavior that is almost certain to lead to a bad outcome.

Preparation is almost everything. Judges are usually displeased if a spouse cannot answer their questions. For example, a spouse should have documentation proving income and debts if they are seeking a reduction in spousal or child support.

New tax law causes divorce uncertainty

The new federal tax law approved last year has presented uncertainty in Louisiana and across the country. This change has even gone so far as to affect divorce planning.

Before the new law, the payer of spousal support could deduct the full amount while recipients of spousal support paid taxes on it at a rate of 15 percent. To recapture some loss revenue from other changes, however, the new tax law eliminates the long-standing deduction for alimony payments.

Getting a divorce starts with asking for a divorce

If the time comes to move forward with the divorce process, you'll first want to discuss your feelings with your spouse. This is easier said than done, but it's something you need to do if you're serious about putting your marriage in the past once and for all.

As you can imagine, asking for a divorce can be every bit as challenging as the marital problems you're currently dealing with. Fortunately, with the right approach, you can move through this conversation in a timely manner:

  • Choose the right time to have this discussion. You'll need plenty of time to talk through things, so don't ask for a divorce when you only have a few minutes on your hands. Also, you don't want an audience when asking for a divorce.
  • Know what you want to say. It's never easy to find your words when talking about divorce, so you want to have a clear idea of what you are going to say as the conversation moves forward.
  • Remain calm and on topic. This is not a good time to show your anger and bring back problems from the past. Instead, you want to discuss the here and now, as well as where you want to go in the future.
  • Keep your safety in mind. If you can't trust your spouse to act reasonably, you may need to ask for a divorce over the phone or request that you meet in a public place.
  • Remain serious. You don't want to give your spouse any impression that you aren't serious about ending the marriage.

What are the grounds for divorce in Louisiana?

Not every marriage in Louisiana is meant to last. When this happens, a couple may want to divorce. Louisiana has three grounds for divorce. Understanding this process is important because it also involve other issues such as alimony, property division and child support.

The first ground is where the couple lives separate and apart. They must be apart for at least 180 days if are no minor children from the marriage. The time increases to 365 days if the couple had children while they were married.

How does child custody work in Louisiana?

Any divorce can involve disputes that can cause the parties a significant deal of stress. An important and oftentimes very disputed part of divorce in Louisiana involves child custody. At times, this can be the issue that is most riddled with emotion.

Custody decisions are based upon a court deciding what is in the child's best interest. Joint custody is considered from the outset as being in the best interest of the child. However, either parent can challenge this presumption with clear and convicting evidence that sole custody is in the child's best interest.

Preparing for divorce

The first working Monday in January is referred to divorce day by family law attorneys in this country because of the high volume of phone calls of married couples considering divorce after the holidays. Spouses who are currently considering the end of their marriage should prepare before speaking with an attorney or going forward with this process.

Getting financial information is an important first step. Although year-end information is usually unavailable until the end of January, paystubs have helpful information. Bank statements, credit card bills and earlier tax returns have financial data that can help prepare for divorce. A credit report can also reveal what debts the couple have.


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