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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
WARNING SIGNS OF ADOPTION FRAUD

Couples that cannot have children on their own often turn to adoption to start a family. Accepting and loving children born to another person is a solution for all involved parties. However, adoption is an area vulnerable to fraud, especially when the parties do not get experienced legal guidance.

Anyone can be a victim of adoption fraud. The birth mother and the adoptive parents may suffer fraud perpetrated by a phony adoption agency, for example. Couples seeking to adopt a child may be victimized by someone claiming to be pregnant and in need of an adoptive family. The goal in all cases of adoption fraud is to bilk couples or pregnant women out of money. Unfortunately, heartache is a painful byproduct of fraud.

Following are some common warning signs of adoption fraud:

  • Pressuring parties to sign documents right away

  • The birth mother or an agency never returns your calls

  • Getting a "guarantee" about adoption (there are no guarantees)

  • Cannot or will not provide proof of a pregnancy

  • The birth mother will not attend meetings with a family law attorney or agency

  • Rushes or demands discussions about fees or other expenses

Adoption brings the joy of loving a child to potential parents and peace of mind to birth mothers. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about the process of adoption. Couples and birth mothers alike need protection when they enter into the adoption process. A great place to start is consulting with a family law attorney who can guide you toward legitimate prospects while spotting signs of fraud.

Orion MeyersFamily Law
WILL ALL MY FAMILY’S PROPERTY BE DIVIDED IN DIVORCE?

Asset division is a common concern among many divorcing spouses, and it can quickly become a point of conflict. This is understandable because spouses often invest a significant amount of time and effort to attain nice things for their family, and the way those assets are divided can influence each spouse’s situation post-divorce.

However, not all assets are subject to division during divorce. If you and your spouse are headed for divorce, it may be helpful to understand which assets get divided and which assets are excluded from division.

What is community property?

Generally, community property includes all the property you or your spouse acquired during your marriage. You and your spouse each own half of every community property item, so the interest in these items must be divided in divorce. Usually, community property is divided equally between spouses in divorce.

What is separate property?

Separate property generally includes property one spouse acquired before marriage, as well as property one spouse received as a gift or inheritance. Separate property belongs only to one spouse, so it is not subject to division in divorce. However, all property will probably be assumed to be community property until a spouse proves otherwise.

Are there other important details I should keep in mind?

Determining what property is subject to division can sometimes be complicated. As you consider how your family’s property might be classified, there are a few additional rules to keep in mind.

  • Property acquired mostly or entirely with separate property will also be separate property, and property acquired mostly or entirely with community property will be considered community property.

  • Separate property that gets commingled with community property becomes community property.

  • How property is titled does not affect its classification as community or separate property.

Asset division is important because the outcome can affect where you live, your lifestyle post-divorce and how financially prepared you are for retirement, among other factors. Understanding how property is classified can help you better plan for the asset division process, which can help you as you and your divorce team pursue the best possible outcomes for your situation.

Orion MeyersFamily Law
WHAT IS THE QUICKEST METHOD OF DIVORCE IN LOUISIANA?

If there is one thing family law attorneys understand, it is divorce. Unfortunately, many couples reach a point where their marriages no longer work for either spouse. Sometimes, this realization evolves over months or even years, giving spouses time to plan the divorce. However, other times relationships fall apart quickly, making it essential to end the marriage as fast as possible.

Like all other states, Louisiana has specific laws governing how a couple can get divorced. In some cases, family law issues aside from the divorce itself can prolong the process. Below are a few scenarios that may extend the proceedings.

  • High value assets or other complicated property division issues

  • High conflict relationships with complex balance of power problems

  • Marriages in which the couple shares one or more children

The fastest way to end a marriage is by seeking an uncontested divorce. However, this works best when both spouses are committed to the idea of getting out as quickly as possible. When there are no children and no property division conflicts, your divorce may proceed easily. However, it will still take some time to complete the process.

In Louisiana, couples must live "separate and apart" for at least 180 days after they file for divorce. While this means staying married for an additional six months, this waiting period will at least give you space and time away from your spouse. For many, the time apart makes the waiting period more tolerable.

Even if you plan to pursue an uncontested divorce, a family law attorney may be able to help you expedite the process after the waiting period elapses. Your lawyer can also make certain that your rights remain protected throughout the process.

Orion MeyersFamily Law