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WHAT IS A PARENTING COORDINATOR?

Parenting effectively through divorce and other family law issues is hard! Parents and children alike need all the help they can get during times of adversity. Parenting coordination fills a need that many Baton Rouge parents do not even know that they have, but what is it exactly?

If you are getting a divorce or already divorced, you are likely very familiar with conflict. It plagues split families relentlessly, often lasting well into a child's early adulthood or even their entire lives. Parenting coordination answers the need for stability, peace and cooperation between parents. As a non-confidential process centered on the children, coordination helps children by helping parents in conflict-filled family situations.

A parenting coordinator is an unbiased third-party--usually a legal or mental health professional--trained to assist in high-conflict parental relationships. One of the main goals of parenting coordination is helping families put parenting plans into place and then abiding by the terms of these plans. Coordinators also help in other ways, including:

  • Educating co-parents about children

  • Monitoring the behavior of each parent

  • Helping parents resolve their disputes

  • Making suggestions or recommendations

The list above is far from exhaustive as parental coordinators often help parents address serious family law issues as well. Examples include psychological assessments for children and substance abuse testing for parents and/or children.

Most co-parents in Louisiana will never need a parental coordinator. However, if you hear this term in a family law court, it is probably a good idea to ask an attorney for guidance. Anything that can help children survive a divorce with their emotional and mental health intact is always worth pursuing.

Orion MeyersFamily Law
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A COVENANT MARRIAGE?

In Louisiana and other states, many couples are choosing to enter into a covenant marriage. In a nutshell, this family law term means that couples promise to remain married forever. While most people intend marriage to last forever anyway, how does a covenant marriage even work?

According to the state's Department of Health, couples must agree to two significant provisions when choosing a covenant marriage.

  • The parties make a legal agreement to pursue counseling if their marriage begins to deteriorate

  • The spouses may only seek to divorce or separate legally for specific and limited reasons such as abuse, adultery or abandonment

The impetus behind these unions is to preserve the covenant of marriage, which has suffered greatly in recent decades with so many marriages ending in divorce. However, it is wise for couples to learn as much as possible about covenant marriages before entering into one. The following pros and cons of such unions can help you decide if it is the right choice for you.

  • Pro: Requires pre-marital counseling, which can help couples avoid relationship issues that might arise

  • Pro: Strengthens the bonds between all members of the family

  • Pro: Agreeing to take marriage preservation steps in the face of adversity can make a marriage stronger

  • Con: It is typically more difficult to get a divorce

  • Con: Some consider these unions "too religious" in nature

  • Con: The difficulty in divorcing can pose financial hardships for each spouse

Before agreeing to a covenant marriage, it is wise to explore the matter further by speaking with a family law attorney. With sound legal guidance, you can avoid ending up in an unsatisfactory relationship from which it is hard to break away.

Orion MeyersFamily Law
DOES SIGNING AN INJURY LIABILITY WAIVER MEAN YOU CAN NEVER SUE?

Many different types of entities in Louisiana use liability waivers to prevent victims from taking legal action after suffering an injury. For example, a tattoo parlor may require patrons to sign a waiver so that they cannot sue the parlor if a serious infection occurs. Other examples of businesses and companies that use liability waivers include the following.

  • Tour operators

  • Schools

  • Campgrounds

  • Amusement parks

  • Ski resorts

  • Equipment rental companies

  • Skydiving operators

In many cases, the liability waiver you sign may not prevent you from pursuing a personal injury claim. However, these waivers do seem to limit claims simply because injured parties believe the waiver will not permit a legal solution. Fortunately, there are ways a liability waiver may fail as legal protection against injury claims.

All liability: Forms that waive all liability are often unenforceable because courts find them too broad and nonspecific.

Reckless or intentional acts: Waivers that force you to sign away your legal rights in the face of a reckless activity may not hold up in court.

Waivers involving children: In some locations, parents cannot sign away an entity's responsibility if a child suffers an injury during an outing or event. For example, if you sign a waiver for your child's school-sponsored field trip, you can probably still seek a legal remedy if your child is injured.

Always read liability waivers in full before you sign them. If you or a loved one suffers an injury, take the waiver and your account of the incident to an attorney for guidance on the legal options that are at your disposal.

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HOW TO NAVIGATE MARITAL DEBT

You and your spouse are preparing for a divorce. In addition to dividing your assets, you may also be wondering whether you’ll be responsible for your spouse’s debt.

Continue reading to learn how Louisiana handles marital debt and what you can do about it.

Defining community debt vs. separate debt

Louisiana defines community debt as debt acquired from the day your marriage began until the day of your divorce. Such debt must have either been acquired for both spouses’ interest or acquired by one spouse for the other spouse’s interest. Both parties are responsible for such debt. In the event of a divorce, community debt is divided in a 50/50 split.

Separate debt describes the personal debt you acquired—usually before your marriage—which you are solely responsible for.

How to start dealing with your community debt

You may be so overwhelmed with your and your spouse’s debt that you don’t know what to do next. You will have to work with your spouse in some capacity to deal with your marital debt, so it’s important to remain cordial.

A good place for both of you to begin is by making separate lists where you document the debt you individually brought into the marriage. After that, you can start on a list of the debt you have acquired since you got married. These kinds of debts could be auto loans, credit cards, mortgages, personal loans and student loans. Determining the exact amount of debt will help you to set up a debt repayment plan.

After your divorce is final, you’ll still want to make sure your ex continues paying their part of your shared debt. It will also be useful to keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your ex is continuing to make payments. If not, this could negatively affect both of your credit scores.

Realizing how much debt you’ve acquired before and after getting married can be a stressful realization. By organizing a list of the debt you owe and the debt you and your ex owe together, you’re taking a step in the right direction.

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Contact us with any questions you have regarding your divorce.

Orion MeyersFamily Law
WHY WOULD A LOUISIANA JUDGE ORDER SUPERVISED VISITATION ONLY?

The primary duty of a family court judge serving in Louisiana is to protect the best interests of children involved in family-related legal issues. In many cases, this means setting aside the expressed wishes of either or both parents. In fulfilling their duty to protect the state's most vulnerable citizens, family law judges must often make unpopular decisions.

One such unpopular decision is ordering a parent to engage in supervised visitation with a child. In short, supervised visitation means that the parent may only spend time with his or her child under the supervision of another adult. Judges issue such an order for a variety of reasons, all of them centered on protecting children from physical, mental and emotional harm.

Some of the most common reasons for supervised visitation include the following.

  • A history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse of the children

  • A history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse of the co-parent

  • A history of substance abuse

  • An uncontrolled mental illness that may pose the risk of harm to the children

  • A risk of possible abduction by the parent

  • A history of child neglect

  • A previously absent parent seeks to cultivate a parent/child relationship

  • A record of potentially dangerous familial situations

Although noncustodial parents feel disappointed about supervised visitation, it is important to understand that the court is doing its best to protect your children. Abiding by these orders allows you to spend time building a better relationship with your kids. In time, the court may permit regular visitation, but only if you comply with its existing orders.

Even though supervised visitation is often necessary, it is still wise to make sure your rights remain protected. A family law attorney can fill an important role in such matters as an advocate for both you and for your children. Please consider reaching out for legal guidance if you have received a court order for supervised visitation only.

Orion MeyersFamily Law