Family Law

Personalized Legal Family Advocacy in St. Tammany Parish

Facing family law issues can be daunting and affect all parties involved in a significant way. At Foto D’Antoni & Cain, we empathize with the difficulties you may experience and are committed to providing you with professional legal assistance. We approach each case with compassion and understanding, acknowledging the emotional stress of these situations. Whether you’re dealing with a divorce or battling for custody, our team is here to offer guidance and support.

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Divorce in Louisiana

Navigating a divorce involves primarily two key considerations: formally dissolving the marriage and appropriately dividing any shared assets and liabilities. In certain situations, there may also be a need to establish whether one party requires post-divorce financial aid, commonly known as alimony. If the couple has children under 18, decisions regarding custody, visitation arrangements, and child support also need to be made. In the state of Louisiana, couples have the option to pursue either a “no-fault” divorce or a “fault-based” divorce.

No-Fault Divorce

In a no-fault divorce scenario, the court doesn’t necessitate either party to demonstrate any misconduct leading to the marriage’s dissolution. The emphasis instead rests on maintaining separate residences for a predetermined period before the divorce can be finalized. For couples with minor children, this period of living separately and apart extends to 365 consecutive days.

Conversely, the mandated separation duration shortens to 180 consecutive days in the absence of minor children. Based on the separation length, couples opting for a no-fault divorce have two distinct routes to explore:

  • Article 102 Divorce: If a couple hasn’t fulfilled the obligatory separation period when initiating the divorce process, they can opt for an Article 102 divorce. Nonetheless, they must ensure that they meet the separation requirement (be it 180 or 365 days) before the finalization of the divorce.
  • Article 103 Divorce: In scenarios where a couple has already satisfied the separation requirements before filing the divorce petition, they can proceed under an Article 103 divorce.

Fault-Based Divorce

In Louisiana, fault-based divorces necessitate that one or both spouses present evidence to the judge that shows specific acts that meet the state’s fault-based grounds for divorce. These grounds consist of:

  • The other spouse committed adultery.
  • The other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor.
  • During the marriage, the other spouse physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking a divorce or a child of one of the spouses, regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted for the abuse.
  • After a contradictory hearing or consent decree, a protective order or an injunction was issued during the marriage against the other spouse to protect the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses from abuse.

Community Property Division in Louisiana

Navigating Louisiana’s community property system can be intricate, but our skilled team of attorneys has the required expertise to guide you confidently through the process. We are dedicated to ensuring a just and equitable distribution of assets during divorce proceedings, providing you with the peace of mind you deserve.

Community Property

Community property encompasses assets acquired during the marriage unless classified explicitly as separate property. This means both spouses are entitled to an equal share (50-50) of the interest in all assets acquired during the marriage. Community property includes property not classified as separate, property jointly donated to the spouses, economic benefits derived from community property, and any damage or loss incurred. Exceptions to community property can be made through prenuptial agreements, which allow for the modification of community rights.

Separate Property

Separate property refers to assets exclusively belonging to one spouse, such as property acquired before marriage, property obtained through donation or inheritance, property purchased using separate (non-community) funds, or any damage due to mishandling of property by one of the spouses.

Spousal Support in Louisiana

In a proceeding for divorce or thereafter, the court may award interim periodic support or final periodic support to a party who is in need of support when the other spouse has the ability to pay. Understanding the key points regarding spousal support is crucial when navigating a Louisiana divorce.

Interim Spousal Support

During a divorce, the court may award interim spousal support to maintain the financial status quo until the final judgment. This is done when one spouse has a need for financial assistance, and the other spouse has the means to pay. The court will also consider any child support obligations and the standard of living that the couple had during their marriage. The purpose of interim support is to avoid any unnecessary economic disturbance during the divorce proceedings.

Final Spousal Support

In Louisiana, a court may award final periodic support to a spouse based on their financial needs, the other spouse’s ability to pay, and the absence of fault on the part of the requesting spouse. Furthermore, the court must award final periodic support or a lump sum award when the court finds that the spouse seeking divorce was not at fault before filing and was the victim of domestic abuse committed by the other spouse during the marriage.

Child Custody and Support in Louisiana

Child Custody

The standard applied in awarding custody is “the best interest of the child.” In making that determination, courts will consider the following factors:
  • The child’s prior relationship with the parties.
  • The reasonable preference of the child — if the child is old enough.
  • The parties’ mental and physical health.
  • The moral fitness of a party, as it affects the child.
  • The distance between the parties’ residences.
  • The willingness and ability of each party to foster the child’s relationship with the other party.

Agreement of Parents

In the first instance, child custody is awarded by the agreement of the parents. However, if the parents’ agreement is not in the child’s best interest, then the agreement is not implemented.

Parental Sole Custody

When there is clear and convincing evidence that one parent having custody is in the child’s best interest, the court will grant sole custody to that parent.

Nonparent Custodian

If granting joint or sole custody to either parent would cause significant harm to the child, custody will be given to another individual who can provide a safe and stable home.

Child Support

During or after a divorce, the court can require one or both parents to provide child support. The amount of support is determined using a child support guidelines table. This table considers factors such as the parent’s income, the number and ages of the children, and any special needs or healthcare expenses. The goal is to ensure that children’s financial needs are met by considering the parents’ ability to provide support.

Adoption in Louisiana

Deciding to expand your family through adoption is truly a joyous moment. However, the legal processes can sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing. The different kinds of adoptions available can further add to these complexities. Contacting a seasoned family law attorney can alleviate many common challenges faced during the adoption process.