Eric S. Neumann, APLC
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Lafayette Divorce Blog

Spousal support in divorce

The role of spousal support in a divorce is often misunderstood. Also known as alimony, spousal support is decided later in divorce proceedings, after division of the couple's assets are decided. Once this is done, the need for a spouse to receive or pay support can be determined and calculated. It is awarded to restrict any inequitable economic impact to the lower or non-wage-earning spouse by providing that spouse with ongoing income.

Louisiana law governs spousal support. It is generally based upon the need of the recipient spouse, the payer's ability to pay it, the marriage length, the couple's lifestyle when they were married and the spouses' age and health. Courts may consider non-martial assets and the involvement of minor children.

Divorces and digital technology

Ending a marriage brings many disputes and the need for caution about many matters. Digital technology has become a major, but possibly overlooked, part of our lives that can cause headaches in a divorce. Passwords, online accounts and gadgets can be "weaponized" by a vindictive soon-to-be former spouse.

Passwords can provide access to important financial, household and social accounts and infringe on privacy. Passwords should be changed immediately when divorce is being seriously considered. This will help prevent damage caused from meddling, curiosity or vindictiveness from a spouse or other obtrusive person.

Bringing an absent parent back into a child's life is difficult

There are times when a parent doesn't have contact with a child. This might happen during a divorce, because of military service or a long-distance parenting relationship. The parent must be sensitive to the fact that the child might have some problems adjusting.

When a child is trying to renew contact with a parent, it is imperative that things be taken slowly. The reason for the loss of contact might come into the picture, so both parents should try to prepare for having to answer questions. This discussion might help to pave the transition toward reestablishing contact.

What are grandparents' custody rights in Louisiana?

Grandparents may seek child custody in limited circumstances in Louisiana. Grandparents may intervene in a court case and seek custody after the parents filed for divorce. They must prove that the parents' custody will substantially harm the child. This is a heavy burden and the parents could still maintain custody even though the child would be better if the grandchildren had custody. Typically, the judge must find that the parents are abusing or neglecting the child to award the grandparents custody.

Grandparents may also file for a protective order on their grandchildren's behalf and seek temporary custody of their grandchildren if there is parental abuse. The judge can grant a temporary and immediate custody order and schedule a hearing within 30 days. If the grandparents prove that the child is being abused, the judge may order custody for a six to 18-month period.

Planning for the end at the beginning

The beginning of a marriage may be the best time to make financial plans in case there is ever a divorce. Financial inequity among married couples can cause hardship to a spouse when they undertake property division at the end of their marriage.

Unfortunately, women usually bear the consequences of this inequity. 64 percent of baby-boomer men make the major investment decisions for the couple, while only 27 percent state they have an equal financial partnership with their wives, according to a recent study. Only 9 percent of women in this age group have the dominant role with investing the couple's assets.

Dividing the family business in divorce

Dividing property is an important and challenging matter in a divorce, which can have long-term financial consequences. In addition to property division of personal assets, such as the family home, many spouses must deal with the complex process of dividing the family business.

There are various options for allocating business assets. First, however, a neutral third-party must usually perform a formal appraisal to determine its value. The most common option is one spouse keeping the business. That spouse typically buys out the other's interest based on its appraised value. This option has tax advantages because the direct purchase of shares is classified as a non-taxable transfer of property that is incident to the divorce.

Claiming tax dependents after a divorce

Claiming tax dependents is usually relatively simple, but can have a large impact on taxes. However, this may become complicated after a divorce or separation when both parents want to claim their children as dependents on their taxes.

The recently-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took away the personal exemption beginning for the 2018 tax year. However, the law made up for this loss by increasing the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000.

Set a plan for your children during and after your divorce

Your children didn't have any input into your divorce, but they are going to be affected by it. You have to take steps to reduce the severity of the impacts. This isn't always easy and it might not be evident that they are having any issues at all. You must be observant and try to do what you can to help them.

There are things that you need to think about from the first time you and your ex discuss divorce. Keeping the children safe from harm, including emotional trauma, has to be a priority for both parents. One option that you have for doing this is to work with your ex to get the kids what they need and to make decisions about the parenting plan.

Prenups and second marriages

Entering a second marriage carries a set of complications that younger couples do not face in their first marriage. A prenuptial agreement can help address matters such as property division and support after re-marriage. There are, however, pros and cons with these agreements.

Remarrying raises new concerns. These include supporting the new spouse when they retire and age, payment of expenses and accumulating martial property if they retire. If the marriage is unsuccessful, the spouses need to consider the financial results. Issues concerning the children should be addressed, such as their inheritance and balancing the needs of the children and the new spouse.

Insulating business from a divorce

A spouse may be required to give up assets in a divorce. There are precautions, however, that can help prevent a business from becoming a difficult matter during property division.

A prenuptial or matrimonial agreement, or a postnuptial agreement made after marriage, can help set out a potential resolution. The agreement can spell out how the business will be valued or how its assets will be divided. The spouses can agree that the business is separate property that will not be divided. This can help save the potentially expensive and time-consuming valuation involving the examination of the books, location inspection and employee interviews.

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