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Family Law is very broad and complex area of the law. If not handled correctly it can take a huge financial and emotional cost to families.
The area of family law deals with the legal issues of the family, in whatever form. All areas of family are complex and often interrelated. It is rare that one aspect of family law does not overlap with another.
Adoption is generally categorized as either contested or uncontested. Adoption is a primary vehicle serving the needs of homeless, neglected, abused and runaway children. As a result of the adoption process you become responsible for the financial, emotional, and physical care of your children.
Alimony is payments provided to an ex-spouse generally for the ex-spouse to maintain a certain standard of living that was established during the marriage. The amount of alimony paid is based upon a number of factors including the length of marriage, income and other community property issues.
Child custody issues are usually tied to legal separation or divorce proceedings. It is not uncommon for parents to share legal and physical custody (joint custody). In may circumstances however, the courts may be award one parent custody while the other parent is awarded visitation rights, as determined to be in the best interests of the child or children.
The non-custodial parent is ordered to provide financial payments to be used to the support of the child. These may payments continue until the child attains the age of 18.
Divorce and (dissolution of a civil union) are highly contentious matters that require competent legal counsel. Divorce issues generally include at a minimum at least one of the following: property settlement, alimony, child custody, child support, and name changes.
While you can change your name for any reason, name changes are typical after marriage, divorce, or adoption. There are circumstances when you can change your name without the assistance of a lawyer.
Louisiana Family Law List of Familiar Terms and Definitions:
Article 102 Divorce A divorce sought or granted based on living separate and apart as required by Louisiana Civil Code article 102. To get an article 102 divorce, after either spouse files a petition for divorce, the spouses have to live separate and apart for either 180 or 365 days if they have minor children. After the 180 or 365 days, either spouse can file a "Rule to Show Cause for 102 Divorce," and the Court will set a hearing. After the hearing, if the parties meet the requirements, the Court will grant a judgment of divorce.
Article 103 Divorce A divorce sought or granted based on the grounds listed in Louisiana Civil Code article 103. When no spouse is at fault, spouses can get an article 103(1) divorce if, at the time the petition for divorce is filed, they have already lived separate and apart for either 180 days or 365 days if they have minor children. Article 103 also allows for divorce based on the fault of a spouse
Temporary Restraining Order A temporary restraining order is an order issued by the Court that prohibits a party from doing a certain act. A temporary restraining order can be requested and granted without a hearing, in some circumstances.
Fault In the context of a divorce, fault means adultery, domestic violence, or having been sentenced to hard labor after being convicted of a felony criminal offense.
There are many differences between fault-based and no-fault divorces. Fault means the Court decides that one spouse's actions are the reason that the marriage did not work out. If you are considering filing a fault-based divorce, you should consult with an attorney. In general, the differences involve:
Incidental Matters In a divorce case, incidental matters are other issues that the Court can address in the divorce case. Incidental matters include "custody, visitation, or support of a minor child; support for a spouse; injunctive relief; use and occupancy of the family home or use of community movables or immovables; or use of personal property."
Rule to Show Cause A Rule to Show Cause is another name for a motion in a summary proceeding.
A rule to show cause is a kind of motion. A motion asks the Court to do something. The Court acts by entering an order. Before the Court will enter most types of orders, the Court will first have a hearing where both sides are allowed to present evidence and make arguments on their own behalf. Traditionally, the language used by lawyers asks the Court to order the other person to come and "show cause" why the Court should not enter the order requested by them.
Consent Judgment A Consent Judgment is when the Court approves an agreement made between parties to settle the pending issues. It has the same effect as any other judgment of the Court, but it also represents a compromise between the parties.
Considered Judgment A Considered Judgment is a judgment of the Court rendered after a hearing or trial. It is based on the Court's consideration of the evidence and the law that applies to the issues the Court was asked to decide.
Domicile Your domicile is the place where you live and consider your home. It is not a temporary place you live, but rather some place you intend to be your legal home.
Former Matrimonial Domicile The house where spouses lived together as married people, once spouses have physically separated, is the former matrimonial domicile.
Property Injunction A property injunction is another term for a temporary restraining order or a permanent restraining order that prohibits either spouse from alienating, encumbering, or disposing of community property during a divorce and until the property is partitioned.
Reconciliation is a defense to divorce. When used in divorce proceedings, the term reconciliation means to start living together again with the intent to remain married. A spouse must ask the Court to make a finding of fact to determine whether a reconciliation has occurred.
Matrimonial Regime A matrimonial regime is a system of rules that control the ownership and management of the property of married persons as between themselves and toward third persons. A matrimonial regime can be determined by the law, by a contract, or partly by the law and partly by a contract. In Louisiana, the legal regime is "the community of acquets and gains," more commonly called a community property regime. Unless spouses enter into a matrimonial contract, the legal regime applies to their marriage.
Property Partition (Partition of Property) A property partition is the process used to divide the former spouses' community and separate property between each spouse.
Community property is certain property acquired during the marriage that is classified as owned by both spouses together, or co-owned.
The legal regime exists during the marriage. The legal regime is terminated as of the date of a divorce, but the termination is retroactive to the filing date of the petition for divorce. The "effort, skill, or industry" of either spouse means any work, whether paid work for an employer, creative work like building, painting, or sewing things, or unpaid work.
Property acquired with community things means property gotten with money earned during the marriage or through the use of other community property. One example would be when spouses use a car purchased during the marriage as a trade-in to get a new car. Unless otherwise classified as separate property, a car purchased during the marriage with a trade-in that was one spouse's separate property would also be community property.
Any property jointly donated or gifted to both spouses during the marriage is classified as community property. If there is a written document that shows the donation, the Court will rely on that document to classify the property. If there is no written document, the Court will look to the circumstances of the donation or gift and the intent of the donor.
"Natural and civil fruits" are things produced by or derived from another thing without diminution of its substance. Natural fruits are "products of the earth or of animals." Civil fruits are "revenues derived from a thing by operation of law or by reason of a juridical act, such as rentals, interest, and certain corporate distributions."
Damages awarded for loss or injury of a thing belonging to the community usually describes money judgments or insurance proceeds received as a result of accident or destruction of property.
Each spouse owns an "undivided one-half interest" in community property. During the marriage and until the termination of the matrimonial regime, a spouse may not "alienate, encumber, or lease" their undivided interest in community property to a third person.
Separate property is certain property acquired by a person, usually outside of a marriage, that is classified as owned by one spouse. Some property acquired during a marriage can be separate property.
A spouse's separate property, by definition, belongs exclusively to that spouse. Separate property means that only one spouse has the full share in the property and assets which they own. All property the spouse got before marriage is separate.
Separate property also includes:
Matrimonial agreements (i.e. pre-nuptial agreements) allow for the renunciation, termination or modification of the community property rules as follows:
Gather your assets. Inventory everything you own, from cars to collectibles.
Protect your family. Think about if you have adequate life insurance to leave your family in a position where they could maintain the life you currently lead.
Determine the plan that’s best for you. Decide what type of Estate Plan you need.
Choose who you would like to be guardian of your children/pets/self. If you have children or pets, or if you care for another loved one who cannot care for themselves, you want to choose a guardian. You can also name the person you would want to make medical and/or financial decisions on your behalf should you ever become unable to do so for yourself.
Determine and establish the necessary directives. There are several directives you should include in your Estate Plan, including but not limited to:
Durable Power of Attorney
Medical care directive
Limited Power of Attorney – LPOAs are less commonly used (Durable POAs are more frequently the norm), though an LPOA can be appropriate in some instances.
Name your Beneficiaries. Some documents and accounts will have Beneficiaries already designated. These could include retirement plans and life insurance policies, to name a few. But there are other assets you should note in your Will or Trust if you’d like to leave them to a specific person. If there is an opportunity, you should name contingent Beneficiaries. Keep in mind that Beneficiary designations will only go into effect after you pass, so if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions, you need to have prepared for more than simply naming Beneficiaries.
Find a trusted partner. Explore your options for creating your Estate Plan. This can be face-to-face with an attorney or you may choose to use another service provider. You have options, but some are going to be much more expensive than others. If you don’t have an overly-complicated estate, working with a partner like Trust & Will could be the perfect solution to starting on the path of Estate Planning.
Create your plan. If you’re using an online program to create your Estate Plan, be sure to go through all the steps and finalize everything.
Sign and notarize your Estate Plan. Don’t forget to check how many witnesses your state requires.
Notify your Executor. It’s a good idea to let the person you chose to be your Executor know of your intentions.
Store your Estate Planning documents. Put your Estate Plan in a safe place where your loved ones can easily find it. A fireproof safe is a good idea.
Update as needed over time. There isn’t a hard rule about when you should update your Estate Plan, but a good rule of thumb is try to update it whenever you have a major life event (birth of a child, death of someone important to your plan, marriage, divorce, etc.). And if you find you haven’t had any life events in recent years, try to review and update as needed every 3 - 5 years.