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Baton Rouge Family Law Blog

Trial decision on property settlement in oil baron’s divorce

Harold Hamm has been listed as the 28th richest man in the U.S. His mega-wealth will be diminished somewhat as the result of a divorce-related property settlement, recently decided in a 10-day trial. Hamm's wife of 26 years will receive $972 million dollars, a fraction of a fortune estimated to be more than $16 billion.

A court decided Harold Hamm did not have to sell off his majority 68 percent stake in Continental Resources, with oil operations reaching into Louisiana. While anything close to $1 billion dollars seems like an enormous settlement, the ex-wife actually received far less of the couple's marital assets than some observers expected. An appeal is under consideration.

What assets are separate property in a Louisiana divorce?

No matter where you live, the end of a marriage requires spouses to divide property. How you go about the process determines the shape of your financial future. For many Baton Rouge couples, it is better to negotiate a property settlement than to have a judge make decisions for you.

Property division follows Louisiana community property laws. Any assets and liabilities that are not considered separate property become marital property, which is equally divided. Before you can determine how to divide a marital estate, you must understand the difference between separate and marital property.

Louisiana professor sues ex for suppressing divorce papers

Property division at the end of a marriage can be determined by spousal agreement or a family court in accordance with Louisiana community property laws. Property settlements are contracts that must be entered in good faith. Spouses may not hide income, assets and liabilities or engage in other fraudulent activities to gain a financial advantage during divorce.

A Louisiana professor claims his ex-wife knowingly cheated him during the couple's divorce. The wife filed for divorce in Columbia in 2001, where she was living and where the couple married nearly three decades earlier. A lawsuit filed by the former husband stated he had no opportunity to contest the international divorce, because he was not properly notified about it.

Intrafamily adoption in Louisiana

When you think of adoption in Louisiana, do you think of a couple adopting a child whose parents they have never met? Perhaps they cannot have children on their own, but they still want to raise a family. This is a very common type of adoption, of course, but it is important to note that intrafamily adoptions also happen frequently.

In short, this is the official adoption of a child by a stepparent. For example, a woman may be married, have a son and then get divorced. When the son is five years old, she could get married again. Her new husband may want to have a big role in the son's life, so he could decide to adopt the boy as his own.

Visitation program benefits Baton Rouge non-custodial parents

Louisiana courts encourage co-parenting following a couple's separation. Isolated Baton Rouge non-custodial parents sometimes drift away from their children or are kept at arm's length by a custodial parent. The Department of Children and Family Services has a program that attempts to foster the non-custodial parent's relationship with children.

The Access and Visitation Program is primarily geared toward the best interests of children, but the benefits to parents are evident. Children without the love and support of both parents may have emotional, educational and behavioral difficulties. Courts try to prevent these future problems by working through visitation issues with parents.

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.

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