Experienced Divorce Lawyers in New Orleans, Louisiana
Divorce is a complicated legal process. It is also a highly emotional life event. Parting ways with your spouse gives rise to complex issues regarding your finances, property and — most importantly — your children.
At the law office of Betsy A. Fischer, LLC, we are here to help you through these significant transitions. We understand how intimidating the divorce process can seem. Our mission is to provide real-world guidance on the practical and legal ramifications of divorce. Armed with that knowledge, you can feel more confident about making informed decisions on the road ahead.
Every Divorce Case Is Different
Just as every marriage is unique, so, too, is each divorce case. The particular path your divorce follows will depend a great deal on your circumstances and goals.
For some, divorce is a relatively painless process with few or no contested issues. Yet even in uncontested divorce cases, it is critical to seek guidance from an attorney. Our firm will help you avoid pitfalls and make sure that no loose ends remain. We offer discounted flat-fee representation for uncontested cases.
In other divorces, disagreements may be unavoidable. You will need an experienced advocate to protect your rights and prepare a strong case.
An experienced attorney and recognized author on the subject of Louisiana divorce in New Orleans
Ms. Fischer is recognized as one of the New Orleans area’s leading divorce and family law professionals. Her book Divorce in Louisiana, The Legal Process, Your Rights and What to Expect, (Addicus Books, Omaha) is a leading publication about the complex area of the divorce process and a step-by-step guide to help you through every aspect of divorce, beginning with what to look for when hiring the right divorce lawyer.
Real-World Guidance Tailored To Your Situation
Our firm handles both types of cases — and everything in between. As a skilled divorce lawyer with more than 20 years of family law in New orleans, our lawyer, Betsy Fischer, can help you discern the best strategy for your case. She is an accomplished trial attorney as well as a qualified domestic mediator. This valuable background makes her well-equipped to handle whatever turn your case may take.
Ms. Fischer is well-versed in all the intricacies of divorce cases, including:
- Property division
- Treatment of the marital residence
- Legal separation
- Military divorce
- Post-divorce modifications
She also advises clients with questions regarding annulments.
What is Alimony?
Alimony is typically ordered by the court to a spouse or former spouse after separation or divorce arrangements. The purpose of alimony is to give financial support to the spouse who is in a lesser position financially after the divorce or separation.
In Louisiana, a judge can choose to award any of the three following types of alimony:
- Interim Support—this is given to a spouse only during the actual divorce proceedings.
- Periodic Support—this is available to a spouse after the divorce process is complete and is the most common in Louisiana. Periodic support supplements the lower-earning spouses actual income.
- Permanent Support—this is awarded for an indefinite time after a divorce. Permanent support is rare and only given when there is some circumstance preventing the other spouse from earning an income for themselves.
During the divorce process, a spouse will need to show a need for financial support. The court will not begin evaluating alimony until the judge agrees that there is a need for support and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony. Next, the judge will determine if the party asking for alimony was “at fault” for the divorce. If the court finds that you were the “at fault” party, then alimony may be reduced or denied.
When determining alimony, a judge will likely consider the following factors:
- Age and health
- Child custody responsibilities
- Domestic abuse
- Duration of the marriage
- Earning capacity
- Education, employment, or training requirements
- Financial obligations
- Future earning capacity
- Prior criminal history
- Tax ramifications
A court can review and reverse alimony at any time should circumstances change for either party.
How Can a Divorce Attorney Help With Property Division in Louisiana?
Louisiana does not follow the majority of the states for property rights after divorce. Typically, states have equitable distribution principles but Louisiana goes by community property laws.
Community property consists of all assets of a marriage, regardless of how they were acquired—other than inheritance or gift. Under Louisiana law, community property belongs equally to both spouses, regardless of which spouse is responsible for the property.
A divorce attorney can help couples going through a divorce determine how the property should be divided. Typically, in Louisiana, couples will reach a settlement agreement to decide how the property should be split. Alternatively, the couple can decide to have a judge determine the property division if they are unable to come to an agreement.
A Louisiana divorce attorney who handles your case will offer legal advice and determine property allocation by the following three steps:
- They will identify all property and assets and mark each as community or separate
- They will then try to determine the property valuation for all community property assets.
- They will finally decide on how the property should be divided.
Hiring a Louisiana divorce attorney will likely help procure you more during the property division process because if you do not have an attorney, you will have to negotiate an agreement with your spouse on your own or leave it in the hands of the court. Both latter options will leave you with less than if you hired a divorce attorney.
The important note to remember is that all debts must also be assigned during property division proceedings.
Legal Separation Versus Divorce
Separation is like divorce in that each spouse can submit a petition to the court and typically reach an agreement to resolve the legal issues around the divorce. In the case of discrepancies or disagreement—like divorce proceedings—the court will resolve the issue before your application is granted.
The divorce process begins when your spouse submits a divorce petition. Most couples reach an agreement before the first court date and the spouses must agree to all terms and conditions, including property sharing, custody and access to children, child support and spouse retention. Usually, the couple prepares a written agreement detailing the terms of the divorce and submits it to the judge for approval. Once the judge approves your divorce, both spouses can continue to live as singles with the option of remarriage.
The main difference between a legal separation and divorce is that at the end of the legal separation process, you are still legally married despite living entirely separate lives from each other. Neither spouse is free to pursue another marriage without first asking the court to convert the separation into a formal divorce.
In Louisiana, separation is only possible for couples in a covenant marriage. Covenant weddings were developed in Louisiana to encourage couples to seek religious or professional advice before applying for divorce. A covenant marriage allows a couple to show their willingness to marry as a lifelong promise.
Military Divorce in Louisiana
Military divorces in Louisiana are processed in the same way as civilian divorces, for the most part. However, while dealing with a military divorce, the court must take into account a number of federal requirements that affect pension distribution, spousal support, child support, and child relocation.
There are typically four different aspects that must be evaluated in military divorce. While these are likely taken into account in a civilian divorce, as well, it is how a court evaluates them where differences begin.
- Child and Spousal Support: These are assessed according to Louisiana regulations, although federal law states that award of support cannot exceed 60% of a servicemember’s pay and allowance. Child support is required by federal regulations for both custodial and non-custodial children of U.S. military service personnel and veterans.
In the absence of a financial child support plan, the military determines interim support measures until a court order is secured.
- Child Relocation: Child relocation and child custody is a major concern in military divorces due to the temporary nature of military duty. When determining child relocation in a military divorce, a Louisiana court will consider the same factors as in civilian divorces.
The court will decide if relocating the child is in the best interests of the child. Even if you have no plans to relocate right away, you can ask the court to add relocation provisions in your custody order in the event that you do.
- Retirement Distribution: The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act governs the division of retirement payments. This law specifies how a service member’s retirement benefits should be split in the event of a divorce.
For a former spouse to be eligible for a service member’s retirement, the former spouse must have been married to the servicemember for at least 10 years while the servicemember was on active duty. If a former spouse meets the act’s conditions, they are given a number of benefits.
- Venue: The first concern is where you should submit your lawsuit. Before you can bring a lawsuit in Louisiana, you or your spouse must have lived or been stationed in the state for at least six months.
Under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, you will not be allowed to move on with your case without your spouse’s agreement if he or she is deployed overseas or otherwise unable to respond to the divorce for reasons relating to his or her military.
When your spouse is engaged in the military, the court will not sign a default judgment (the process frequently used in an “uncontested divorce”) unless your spouse submits a waiver acknowledging the divorce and waiving service. You can still get an uncontested divorce if your spouse refuses to serve you.
To guarantee the best possible outcome for your case, you should contact a Louisiana family law attorney who specializes in military divorce and can give you specific legal advice for your circumstances.
Louisiana Divorce Law
Grounds for divorce are legal issues for divorcing. In Louisiana, there are no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. You will need to submit a petition for divorce and declare fault or no-fault, under Louisiana divorce law.
A judge will grant a no-fault divorce if you have lived separately for a minimum of:
- 180 days if there is no minor children under the age of 18 from the marriage, or
- 365 days if there are minor children of the marriage under the age of 18
There are many reasons a judge can grant a fault based divorce, including, but no limited to:
- A spouse committed a felony
- A spouse committed adultery
- Domestic violence
- Physical or sexual abuse to a child
- Protective orders were issued during the marriage
There are different laws that will apply if you entered into a covenant marriage. You should always speak with a law firm or experienced Louisiana family law attorney before entering divorce proceedings.
Divorce Attorney Serving Metairie And Beyond
Divorce is never easy, and you deserve to have someone on your side. We realize that you want your attorney to work for you. As a result, we attempt to provide genuine solutions to the many complex difficulties that confront those going through a divorce, while always keeping in mind the strains that this process can place on you and your entire family.
Louisiana has differing laws and statutes that surround a divorce, separation, or annulment than most states. For this reason, it is critical that you hire a Louisiana divorce attorney who is well-versed with the law and can help get you a favorable outcome. The law firm of Betsy A Fischer, LLC is here to help you. If you are facing divorce, contact our office in Metairie at 504-780-8232 to arrange a confidential consultation with attorney Betsy Fischer.