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Child custody dispute ends in mother's arrest

Many Louisiana residents face highly contentious and emotional custody battles. However, there are cases in the state and across the nation that are so emotionally fraught that they eventually require intervention from law enforcement agencies. Such was the case in the recent arrest of a mother who fled her state of residence after a difficult child custody battle with her child's father.

The mother fled her home state in 2014, taking her to children with her. She resettled in the Pacific Northwest, initially receiving assistance from an agency dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence. Eventually, she was able to find an apartment and occasional work, both of which allowed her to live largely off the radar.

Same-sex parents face unique child custody challenges

After the United States Supreme Court extended equal access to marriage to same-sex couples, many people celebrated that decision. However, in Louisiana and other states across the nation, same-sex parents continue to face unique child custody challenges. As courts struggle to keep pace with social convention, many families are left in legal limbo.

An example is found in a recent case that centered on the use of certain terms regarding child custody rights. The parties before the court were legally married, and one woman gave birth to their child. When the relationship ended, the biological mother sought to limit her former spouse's child custody rights. At the center of that argument was existing state law that made use of terms such as "paternity" and "father."

Financial exploitation of the elderly is on the rise

As baby boomers age, they become more vulnerable to elder abuse, which can take many forms. Financial exploitation is one of them.

What you may not know is that, according to statistics, elder abuse is most likely to involve other family members. That reality can be difficult to process, and often families are uncertain of what to do when they suspect that a family member is exploiting a vulnerable loved one. 

Spousal support modifications based on income

For most Louisiana residents, alimony payments are determined at the time of divorce and remain in place for the duration of time outlined in the divorce agreement. In some cases, however, the spouse who is tasked with making spousal support payments encounters a significant change in his or her employment status. That can result in the need to alter the existing agreement, which usually requires a return to court.

Family courts are not usually receptive to requests to reduce alimony payments. In order to be successful, the petitioning spouse must present a strong legal argument to show why those changes should be made. That requires a significant amount of planning.

What happens if you don't have an estate plan when you die?

It's a fact that many people don't prepare for their deaths with an estate plan. Some may not have planned because their deaths were unexpected, but others have been old enough to know that an estate plan was necessary. Having an estate plan is important for a number of reasons, and not taking the time to plan could hurt your family later.

If you don't create an estate plan, Louisiana state laws have a plan in place for you already. The problem is that you get no say in what happens to your property or financial assets. Not having an estate plan -- called a succession plan in Louisiana -- can affect you while you're still alive and affect your family following your death.

Tips for selecting the right divorce attorney

Preparing to handle the end of a Louisiana marriage can be an arduous task. There are a great many decisions that must be made, especially in the early days of a divorce. Selecting a legal professional who will represent one's interests throughout the process is among the most impactful decisions that a spouse will make. Finding the right match can be difficult, but there are ways to improve the odds of an excellent pairing.

When sitting down with prospective divorce attorneys, it is important to pay close attention to the communication style used by each. Throughout the divorce process, spouses spend a great deal of time discussing the particulars of their case with their attorney. When communication patterns are not compatible, this can greatly lengthen the amount of time needed to move through the divorce process.

Is collaborative divorce an option for domestic violence victims?

When considering their options for ending a marriage, many Louisiana spouses who have been subjected to acts of domestic violence disregard collaboration as a viable choice. There are cases, however, where a collaborative divorce can be a good fit for someone who has lived through domestic violence. In fact, one state has recently approved new rules outlining how these cases should be handled.

Those rules state that in order for a divorce to move forward through a collaborative process, both parties have to agree to that approach. If domestic violence is an issue, then the victim has to specifically request collaboration, and his or her attorney must sign off on the approach. The attorney must express a belief that the client's safety will be safeguarded throughout the divorce process.

Dispute over payments in divorce property settlement

For many Louisiana spouses, their pet is an important part of their family. When divorce seems likely, many people are concerned over how to ensure that their pet is properly cared for during and after that process. Pet "custody" has become a real issue in recent years, with couples reaching property settlement agreements that include very detailed provisions concerning pet care. An example is found in a couple that may be headed to court over issues regarding "pet support."

At the center of this case sits an English bulldog named Lola. When Lola's owners divorced after six years of marriage, they agreed that the wife would continue to care for Lola while the husband provided financial support. Now, however, Lola's owner claims that her former husband has failed to meet that financial obligation.

What are the benefits of a special needs trust?

If you have a child with special needs, you've probably wondered what would happen if you suddenly couldn't care for him or her. Although you know your family would likely step in, not having a plan in place could easily leave matters to chance.

One way of protecting your child now and in the future is to create a special needs trust. Following are some steps to take and some benefits to consider.

Include college tuition in child support negotiations

Negotiating the financial aspects of a divorce often takes more time than any other matter that a Louisiana couple will face as they part ways. This is understandable, as the outcome of property division, spousal support and child support negotiations will shape the financial future of both parties for many years to come. One topic that is often overlooked during discussions about child support is the manner in which the parties plan to address college tuition and expenses.

Technically, most children will head off to college after their 18th birthday. That means that neither parent is responsible for covering costs associated with higher education. That said, most families intend to support their children in some manner as they pursue a college degree. However, unless plans have been outlined in the divorce settlement, parties have little means of holding each other to that agreement.

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