Eric S. Neumann, APLC
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Lafayette Divorce Blog

Knowing parents' custody rights

Courts in Louisiana no longer automatically presume that a mother should have custody over the couple's children after divorce or the end of their relationship. Judges must consider several matters while deciding how to award child custody.

Legal custody rights allow a parent to make decisions over the child's education, moral upbringing and health care. Custody is usually shared between both parents. However, courts must determine what constitutes the bests interest of the child when reaching this decision. This includes consideration of the child's age and gender, the parents' ability to provide a good and loving environment, a parent's ability to meet the child's essential needs, existing emotional ties between the parents and the child, whether custody will affect the child's feelings of home and security, if the child is old enough to make decisions and both parents' age, character and mental and physical health. Child abuse or neglect also play an important role.

When mediation is not recommended in a divorce

Couples may seek alternatives to going to court, when possible, when ending their marriage. Mediation is often a recommended option to reduce the stress, time and expense in a divorce. There are many times, however, when mediation may not be an effective process.

Mediation is a process in which spouses attempt to reach agreement on issues with the assistance of a neutral mediator. It first requires financial transparency. If a spouse is hiding assets or not fully disclosing finances, this process will not be productive, and a spouse may need the expertise of a forensic accountant to discover assets.

How to plan for a possible divorce as a parent

Going through a divorce is always difficult, but those with children can feel under the most pressure to minimize the impact that the separation has. Usually there is the presence of marital turmoil months or years before one spouse takes action to file for a divorce.

During this time of marital turmoil, it is a good idea to prepare for the possibility of divorce, even if it does not become an eventuality. You can do this by understanding how the law works in Louisiana, and considering both the financial and emotional impact that a divorce will have on your family.

Communication and custody

Divorce or ending a relationship can cause disruption but may be especially difficult for the couple's children. However, courtesy and cooperation can help ease child custody and other legal issues.

Litigation can be psychologically-demanding and expensive and draw out and increase the stress of a divorce. However, approximately 90 percent of divorces are settled out-of-court in this country. Options such as mediation allows the couple to agree to an acceptable resolution that addresses their situation. Collaborative divorce also allows a couple and their attorneys to negotiate resolution of custody and visitation issues.

Unique issues with divorcing in elder years

The number of couples under 50-years-old who are ending their marriages have leveled off over recent years. However, the divorce rate for spouses over the age of 50 has more than doubled since 1994. Unique issues are present in any given "grey" divorce, especially with property division and what these couples face after their marriages end.

There are several causes underlying this trend. People are living longer. Other factors include women earning higher incomes and facing less economic consequences if their marriages end. Online dating and other activities make meeting a new partner easier. Some couples, simply decide that they have grown apart and want to live independently.

Making divorce less stressful

Ending a marriage is an unwanted possibility for 40 to 50 percent of all couples in this country. There are ways to make divorce less painful, however.

One part of divorce that sometimes doesn't get enough attention is sharing the news with friends and family. Delivering this news with care can make a big difference. Being direct is the most effective way of handling this. Lengthy explanations or the reasons behind the breakup should not be provided. Inappropriate reactions or unsolicited advice should be politely rejected. People may be forewarned of this news with a written note that there is difficult news being shared.

Jeff Bezos did not have a prenup and it may be costly

Amazon's billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife recently announced their divorce and it may be very costly. Their state of residence is Washington which, like Louisiana, is a community property state where the couple equally splits any assets earned during their marriage. Because he did not have a prenuptial agreement, property division may cost Bezos half of his $136 billion fortune.

In community property states, any money earned by either spouse during their marriage and all property bought with that money is community property that is owned equally by both spouses. Bezos got married before he founded Amazon and earned the resulting fortune. It is unclear whether the couple had a postnuptial agreement.

Assuring privacy during divorce

Ending a marriage can sometimes bring out the worst in a soon-to-be former spouse. Information technology can be abused and allow digital spying during an ongoing divorce unless certain precautions are taken.

Digital technology can track a person's location or record private communications. Newly-innovative home appliances and thermostats also store a person's location based on their out-of-house programming. It may be unreasonably complicated or expensive to gain evidence of any unlawful monitoring, especially when the property is jointly-owned or accessed by the married couple. But, there are several ways to increase privacy and prevent snooping.

Yes, you still need your own attorney for an uncontested divorce

Certain forms of divorce are more complicated and expensive than others. If you and your ex have to fight over each moment of parenting time and asset division in court, that will likely require extensive planning, to say nothing of a large budget.

Filing for an uncontested divorce is often a faster and less expensive option. An uncontested divorce may be a better option, as it involves both spouses agreeing to terms for asset division, child or spousal support and parenting plans prior to filing a request for divorce with the courts. Uncontested divorces tend to go quickly, as the courts need only review the terms of the divorce to ensure that they comply with Louisiana state law.

Real estate challenges and divorce

Selling the home after divorce may have emotional and financial consequences while the For-Sale sign acts as an advertisement for the end of the marriage. There are several ways to deal with this property division issue.

A house and mortgage that was financed by a married couple may be a financial challenge for the spouse who receives this asset. A financial analysis of monthly expenses should be performed before one spouse tries to keep the house. A spouse may learn that they cannot afford to keep the house.

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