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New Orleans Family Law Blog

How estate planning factors into the divorce process

For many Louisiana residents, moving through a divorce requires a lengthy checklist of to-do items, many of which can be tedious. The divorce process can feel overwhelming, and it is not uncommon for spouses to forget to address various issues that relate to their divorce. When it comes to life insurance, however, it is very important for spouses to make the appropriate changes to ensure that their final wishes are adhered to.

Failing to change one's beneficiary designation can have serious repercussions to loved ones who are left behind. Many states have laws that dictate how a life insurance policy will be handled in the event of a divorce. However, these laws can change over time, or a move could place an estate in a different jurisdiction with vastly different laws. That is why it is critical to make and desired alterations during or shortly after the divorce process.

3 mistakes that could impact your divorce

As you approach your divorce proceedings, you may wonder what route would work best for you. Because a variety of options exists, including do-it-yourself avenues, you have the opportunity to choose the method that you feel most comfortable using. Of course, having so many choices could also potentially increase the risk of mistakes made during your proceedings. Therefore, you may wish to gain reliable information on those options.

In addition to method-related information, you may also want to know more about the possible mistakes that occur most often. With this knowledge, you may have a better chance of avoiding errors that many other individuals may have made.

Child custody evaluations are not always accurate

When Louisiana parents are faced with a challenge to their parental rights, there are no words that can properly describe the stress and anxiety that follows. When the state acts to remove a child from his or her home, the parents are often at a distinct disadvantage. States have a number of tools at their disposal in these cases, including attorneys, social workers, guardian ad litems and individuals tasked with making child custody evaluations. Parents are allowed the right to an attorney, but many do not have the resources to match those that the state can gather. This can lead to controversial and distressing child custody outcomes, including a recent case in which children may have been wrongly placed in harm's way by state authorities.

The case centers on a family in which the man and woman have a history of domestic violence. Their 5-year-old twins and an older child belonging to the mother were removed from the home, based on the court's belief that there were issues of neglect and that the children were witnesses to acts of domestic violence. The children were placed into a foster home.

Community property a minor concern for immigrant spouses

Regardless of where one's political affiliation lies, there can be no doubt that the current administration has shaken things up on the political landscape. For immigrants, concerns over Trump's immigration policies have caused a great deal of anxiety. According to family law professionals, there has been an uptick in the number of immigrants who are engaged to an American citizen and hoping to escalate their wedding timeframe. For those Louisiana couples, a prenuptial agreement may also be a desirable course of action, even though issues of community property are likely not on their minds at the moment.

Speeding up an engagement and including a prenup can have a number of unintended consequences. While marrying an American citizen is one path to a green card, that path is not without obstacles and is far from certain. The process of securing a green card includes a close examination of one's marriage by immigration officials. A rushed wedding and a prenuptial agreement could be interpreted as signs that the union is not legitimate.

The importance of avoiding errors on a QDRO

For many Louisiana residents, the division of retirement assets is a primary focus during the property division process. In fact, there are many families in which retirement savings comprise the bulk of marital wealth. Getting things right during the division of these assets is important, and should be a priority. To that end, it is important to carefully review the QDRO to ensure that there are no costly errors or omissions present.

A QDRO stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This is the document that dictates how retirement assets are to be divided between parties to a divorce. Aside from getting the basic math correct, a QDRO must also carefully adhere to the requirements of each specific retirement plan.

Divorcing at a young age? The outcome may be better than you think

Some individuals may have varying beliefs regarding the end of a marriage, depending on the age of the couple involved. Despite these views, you will likely find the process stressful and daunting regardless of how old you are at the time. Divorce will inevitably bring about change in your life, and there are some means you can use to avoid letting certain factors have a negative effect on the outcome.

How sole custody will impact matters of taxation

When faced with a custody battle, many Louisiana parents are primarily concerned on providing their child or children with a safe and stable home environment. However, there are certain financial ramifications that come with various custody outcomes, including sole custody. A parent who is able to secure sole custody of one or more children will have a significant change in his or her tax obligations.

Those changes began with an alteration in the parent's tax filing status. While married, most individuals elect to file their taxes under the status of "married." Once divorce has taken place, spouses usually have the option of filing their next full tax return as either "single" or "head of household." Filing as head of household can have a significant positive impact on a parent's tax return.

Unusual outcome in recognition of parentage case

A recent family court outcome is being heralded as a victory for families who choose an alternative lifestyle. The case resulted in shared custody of a 10-year-old boy between a man and two women. For those in Louisiana who have crafted families that are unconventional, this case gives hope that courts are becoming more sensitive to the many different ways that families are constructed, and to the need for new approaches to recognition of parentage.

The matter centers on a couple who wanted to conceive a child but were unable to do so. They met a female neighbor, and began a romantic relationship with her. The three lived as a family for years before the neighbor became pregnant. The parties agreed to raise the child together, but when the little boy was around 1-year-old, a change was made.

After video goes viral, father wants more than just visitation

When two Louisiana parents share a child but are no longer romantically involved, there is usually an agreement in place that outlines the division of parenting time and responsibilities. Over time, that agreement might need to be modified if circumstances change or if the custody or visitation arrangement is not in the best interests of the shared child. An example is found in the case of a father who is seeking a greater degree of responsibility after his daughter gained notoriety after an appearance on a talk show.

The child is 13 years old, and was featured on an episode of Dr. Phil. Her rude and dismissive attitude led a section of the video to go viral. She has since become the subject of numerous memes. She has also gained a minor degree of fame, and has been invited to appear on other television programs and to travel to Los Angeles.

How quickly can you get divorce in Louisiana?

Younger couples are often able to have simpler divorces than older couples are: they're less likely to have children, real estate and other significant assets that can complicate the separation process. Divorce is rarely a walk in the park, but having fewer things to fight over can certainly make the process go more smoothly.

Unfortunately, simple doesn't always mean fast when it comes to divorce, since many states - including Louisiana - require couples to live separately for a period time before they can file for a no-fault divorce.