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Baton Rouge Family Law Blog

Are open adoptions more common than closed adoptions?

Society has changed its views and laws about the roles of Baton Rouge birthparents who choose to forfeit parental rights. In decades past, ongoing relationships among birthparents, adopted children and adoptive parents were nearly nonexistent. Today, at least in many domestic adoptions, open adoptions are the norm.

Closed adoptions sever legal and all other ties between birthparents and adopted children. In the past, adoptive parents commonly used agencies to find children, often without meeting or knowing anything about biological parents. In some cases, children were not told about adoptions and when they were, they had no access to details since court records for adoptions were sealed.

Covenant marriages in Louisiana haven’t discouraged divorce

Some people feel couples would stay married if marriages were harder to end. Laws in three states, including Louisiana, are testing that theory. Couples with covenant marriages take extra steps to get married and stay married, including forfeiting the right to obtain a no-fault divorce.

Covenant marriages, designed to drive down the divorce rate, have been available in Louisiana since 1997. Baton Rouge couples who enter into matrimony this way declare formally they intend to stay with spouses for life. The parties are obligated to undergo before-marriage counseling and seek professional guidance, if the union becomes troubled.

Payment options for Louisiana spousal support

Alimony may be awarded before and after the end of a Baton Rouge marriage. Alimony pendente lite is a spousal support agreement for married couples who are separated but not yet divorced. Spousal support paid following divorce can be temporary or permanent, although temporary alimony is more likely today than in years past, when spousal earnings were not as equal.

In Louisiana, spousal support is based on need and fault. A recipient spouse may not have the financial resources or earning ability to meet basic needs after a dissolution of marriage. In fault-based divorces, a spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support as punishment for marital misconduct like infidelity or abuse.

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.

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