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Baton Rouge Family Law Blog

Steps toward a Louisiana stepparent adoption

Remarriage often creates a blended family. A parent's children from a previous relationship may share a Baton Rouge home with new brothers and sisters. Some remarried Louisiana parents want to take a "child by marriage" relationship to a more binding legal level -- a stepparent adoption.

Gaining parental rights may take less time through a stepparent adoption than other types of adoptions. However, the transition from stepparent to legal parent is not automatic. Approval depends upon passage of a criminal background check and a home study by caseworkers, among other requirements listed on the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services website.

Family mediation may solve Sanfords' ongoing custody dispute

A lot of people share a great deal of information about their personal lives online. For better or worse, that information is out there for anyone to see. Sometimes, stating an opinion and sharing feelings feels good, but the consequences aren't always pleasant.

A Southern congressman made headlines a few years ago when he and his wife separated and later divorced. Many Louisiana residents probably didn't know who Mark and Jenny Sanford were until news broke about Mark Sanford's affair with a South American woman. Sanford told his wife he was taking off on a hiking trip in 2009, which turned out to be an extramarital meeting.

What judges consider in Louisiana child custody cases

Baton Rouge parents often have expectations during separation or divorce that may differ from a Louisiana family judge's views. It is common for parents to seek a self-serving child custody or visitation arrangement. Courts take a different viewpoint based upon the best interests of the child.

Parents who cooperate can create a customized parenting plan -- a judge will approve it as long as the agreement contains all the salient points. It's helpful for parents who aren't certain what a parenting plan should contain to rely on an attorney's assistance. You can also avoid a court-ordered child custody plan by working with your ex through a mediator, a neutral party who facilitates the process.

Can Louisiana biological parents have post-adoption contact?

Baton Rouge individuals who give up parental rights may stay in contact with an adopted child under certain circumstances. Not all biological parents seek legal agreements for continuing contact. Sometimes, the Louisiana agreements to maintain a post-adoption relationship involve people other than parents, like siblings or grandparents.

Adoptions through state agencies are closed, which means the rights of the biological parents have been forfeited. Children are not placed with adoptive parents through public agencies unless parental rights have been forfeited. In open adoptions, the biological mother participates in the adoptive parent selection process.

Solving a pet division problem during a Louisiana divorce

Assets don't have to be valuable to be disputable. Grandmother's old tea set may be worth very little to most people, but not to someone who attaches good memories to it. If you're getting a Louisiana divorce, attorneys advise taking the emotional value of property into consideration alongside the market value.

Marital homes are sentimental assets. How many Baton Rouge spouses have battled over the right to keep a home that reminded them of more pleasant times? Unfortunately, many spouses bite off more than they can chew by keeping a house once they realize how costly it is to hold onto it with a single income.

Consider the value of assets over time in a divorce settlement

Louisiana spouses may be impatient to move on with their individual lives once a marriage is over. No one experiences a pleasant divorce, so it's understandable spouses want to put the process behind them quickly. Hurrying to divide assets while distracted by emotions can be detrimental to your financial future.

What you have now in marital assets might be worth more or less in the future. Those economic fluctuations must be factored in if you hope to reach a fair property settlement. A settlement strategy should include knowledge of current and future values of marital assets to be divided.

When is a Louisiana child support modification appropriate?

Baton Rouge separated and divorced parents: remember the word "significant." You'll hear Louisiana family judges use the word when making decisions about changes in child support agreements. Modifications of monthly payments aren't likely to occur unless a court feels significant changes have occurred in a payer, recipient or child's life.

If you're working out a support modification independently with an ex, put children's needs before your own -- that's what a judge will do. Any new agreement you make must have the court's approval before support changes take place. Courts might be inundated with parental petitions if support orders were changed for anything but significant – there's that word again – reasons.

Planning to co-parent during and after a Louisiana divorce

Louisiana spouses may have a difficult time finding anything positive about the end of a marriage. The breakup doesn't have to involve a contested divorce for spouses to feel sadness, hurt or anger. Spouses without children may make the break cleanly, but divorced parents remain connected through their children.

Divorce is a grown-up choice that can affect people outside the decision-making process – children. Parents can get wrapped up in their own feelings and forget they are not the only ones experiencing a life-altering change. Child custody, visitation and support agreements must reflect long-range child-rearing plans instead of the parents' emotionally-tinged wishes.

Exercising grandparents’ rights in Louisiana

Many Baton Rouge families, like others throughout the country, don't follow a stereotypical pattern of two parents with children. Grandparents and other non-parent relatives can play a crucial and very direct role in a child's life.

According to 2010 census figures compiled by AARP and other organizations, more than 11 percent of Louisiana children live with a grandparent, who is the head of a household. More than 26,700 children living in their grandparents' homes are under the grandparent's care and do not live with parents.

Considerations before deciding to get a Louisiana divorce

Discussions and articles frequently focus on the legal and emotional issues surrounding the end of a marriage. Information and opinions are plentiful about property settlements, child custody and spousal support – the considerations necessary once a divorce decision is made. Less seems to be written and said about the months or years leading up to the dissolution of marriage.

Sometimes it's harder to make a decision than live with the choice you make. Baton Rouge spouses may agonize for a very long time, often in private, over how well a relationship is functioning. A series of arguments with a spouse or an unresolved marital problem can trigger the first thoughts about divorce.

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Baton Rouge, LA 70809

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