Which Child Gets the Farm?

Imagine a pair of aging parents that have been farmers and own their farm. Now, though, they’re getting on in years and they’re considering moving into a smaller place. One of the daughters and her husband help run the farm, but the rest of the siblings have moved away and they aren’t interested in returning. It’s now time to think about how the farm legacy should be worked out.

The first order of business is to plan the finances so the parents can enjoy a comfortable standard of living in their later years. They may need long-term care in the future, so they should consult an elder-law attorney about how to plan most effectively. If they don’t plan, they could lose the farm later to a lien, to reimburse the government if they end up needing Medicaid assistance.

Elder law attorneys can also advise about how to avoid problems if a parent re-marries after the first one passes. There’s no telling what can happen to the family property when one spouse is left lonely and finds someone else. Sometimes the results are terrible for family harmony.

Next, it’s necessary to allocate the value of the farm among all the children, so that each child is accounted for once the parents pass. This is by no means an easy process. For a transition plan to be successful, a great deal of planning, preparation, and communication is needed.

Here, it’s best to do some research. There are a host of useful publications that can guide the exploration. Kansas State University provides a twelve-step analysis of questions to be answered.

Farm Bureau Financial Services offers several detailed guides covering various aspects of the planning process.

The Beginning Farmers website is loaded with links to farm-succession courses, blogs, toolkits, farm management advice, and cooperative extension assistance in various states.

For real-life success stories, consult the Successful Farming website, here

https://www.agriculture.com/farm-management/estate-planning/passing-down-the-farm-strategies-ideas-and-real-life-solutions

and here

https://www.agriculture.com/farm-management/estate-planning/tips-on-designing-a-farm-succession-plan

When you’re ready to start planning for your farm and other valuable property, we’ll be ready to help. Please contact our Ruston, LA office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 or schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help with your long-term care needs.

Are Divorce Rates Up Because of COVID -19?

Are divorce rates up because of Covid? The answer depends on who you ask.

Some experts report an increase.

The National Law Journal reports that divorce inquiries were up  34% by April of 2020. Mostly couples married less than five years.  And marriages that were already rocky are pushed over the edge. Shelter-in-place, homeschooling, and arguments about parenting increased the stressors on already troubled relationships.  Add financial stress and boredom, and nerves get raw.   As a result, the Journal believes there will be an increase of 10% to 20% in the second half of 2020. https://www.natlawreview.com/article/divorce-rates-and-covid-19

On the other hand, some experts report a decline.

In contrast,  professor Brad Wilcox, believes divorce rates have actually fallen. He credits the decrease to two likely factors.  First, it was hard to file for divorce when the courts were closed.  Second, in some marriages, hardship makes the relationship stronger. Couples developed a new appreciation for each other.  Couples who live the “we before me” rather than the “me first” lifestyle Wilcox talks about in his book “We Before Me”  have a better chance of surviving. https://news.virginia.edu/content/qa-professor-sets-record-straight-2020-divorce-rate

What is reality?  Are divorce rates up because of Covid-19?

What is reality? Are divorce filings up because of Covid? Goff and Goff has seen an increase in inquiries over the last several months. It became easier to file once the shelter-in-place order was lifted. Until then, most court proceedings were on hold resulting in less filing. As a result divorce filings historically spread over many months, are now happening in a compressed timeframe.    Only time will tell if the stresses of COVID kills more marriages.  Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a real increase in North Louisiana.  At least not yet.

If you and your spouse are on each other’s last nerve, get professional help.  Marriage counseling can be very effective and it is always worth a try.   Also, check out Dr. Wilcox’s book “We Before Me” (coming soon).

If you have a question about divorce call us at 318-255-1760, email us at info@goffandgoffattorneys.com  or  visit our online appointment scheduler to book a consultation.  We’re here to help!

Planning for Your Special Needs Child with a Letter of Intent

Give your family continuity and comfort by writing a letter of intent (LOI) for your special needs child. As a parent, the most valuable asset your child has is you and your ability to care for them. You, like no other, fully understand the nuances of your child’s coping mechanisms and what can trigger adverse outcomes. A letter of intent is meant to convey these broad personality traits as well as practical details of your child’s life so that in your absence, another family member or caretaker can make sound decisions about your child’s forward care. Don’t think a letter of intent is something to write when you get older. Parents of all ages with special needs children should have a letter of intent, review it annually, and update its contents if appropriate. Accidents and illness that may befall you are as prevalent a need to have a letter of intent as is your eventual death.

What is a Letter of Intent?

Though an LOI is not a legal document, it is one of the most important documents a parent can prepare for the future well-being of their special needs child. The letter plays a central role in your child’s special needs plan by putting your perspective on the details of their life. You can begin your letter by identifying the categories you want to address and then filling in details. There are templates of LOI available on the internet, and you might want to use one as a starting point for your letter if you feel overwhelmed and need some structure to begin.

The letter’s purpose is to guide a trustee, family member, or guardian tasked with the care of your dependent child. You will need to sort through feelings and expectations as well as noting people, places, and services that relate to your child. You may want to spend a week taking notes throughout your day as you interact with your child to think through some of the broader issues, documenting how you feel about your child and their future. The Special Needs Alliance has identified some excellent categories to include in your letter of intent. Each category can be found in the boldface type.

Letter of Intent: Family History

Outlining your family history is an excellent place to begin. When and where you were born and raised. If you are married, describe when and how you met. Include anecdotes about your grandparents, brothers and sisters, other relatives and special friends. Incorporate when and where your child was born and raised. List their siblings, and who was particularly special to them. Don’t overlook special family pets that may have a significant impact on your child. Recount fond memories, favorite times, and feelings about your child. Provide contact information for family members and friends. Follow the family history section with a general overview, summarizing your child’s life to the present and your thoughts and hopes about how you envision your child’s future.

Letter of Intent: Daily Schedule

Next, provide the details of your child’s daily schedule to give context to their caregiver. What are the best ways to communicate with your child and how to best manage their behaviors? Do they have hot button words that should be avoided? Who are your child’s teachers, aides, bus drivers, social service providers, or employers? Be as descriptive as possible about your child’s favorite activities and events and also include what your child doesn’t like. Some children love to rake leaves but get frustrated when tasked with folding the laundry, and these details are useful for future caregivers.

Letter of Intent: Assistant with Personal Care

Does your child require assistance with personal care? What size clothing do they wear? What are their personality traits? Do they participate in social activities? What upsets your child? What situations are best to avoid? How do you want a guardian to discuss your death or incapacity? These are some of the questions you can answer in your letter of intent. You can detail your child’s food likes and dislikes, including any allergies they may have. Did you make your child a special birthday cake? What are your traditional family holiday menus? Compile recipes or describe any specific way food should be prepared or served. Remember that some foods can affect the medications that your child may take.

Letter of Intent: Medical Care

Next, broach the topic of medical care. Include the detail of your child’s specific disability(s), medical history, and include the medical history of immediate family members. Name all medications your child takes and describe how they are administered and for what purpose they are given. Include any allergies your child may have. Provide a list of their current doctors, therapists, hospitals, and clinics. Include how often your child has medical and therapy appointments and describe the purposes of and goals for these sessions. List all of your child’s current health insurance information. If your child has medical records that can be retrieved online, provide the accounts username, password, and any other relevant data.

Letter of Intent: Education

If your child is still in school, describe their educational life. What have their experiences been, and what do you desire for their future education? Note what school your child attends and what schools would you like your child to attend in the future. Does the school provide specialized services to your child? Does your child participate in extracurricular activities? Address your wishes regarding the type of education you prefer they receive, such as vocational or academic. If there are specific programs or teachers, you want to be involved in your child’s overall life plan, name them, and provide contact information.

Letter of Intent: Employment

If your child is employed or you hope them to be in the future, describe how you envision their employment. What types of work and work environments would be beneficial to your child?

Letter of Intent: Government Benefits

List all government benefits your child receives. These benefits may include Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps), and any housing assistance. Provide your child and both parents Social Security numbers. Give agency contact information, your child’s case numbers, and discuss the recertification process of each benefit. Include all reporting requirements and important dates so that benefits do not lapse. Provide copies of financial documents.

Letter of Intent: Residential & Social Environment

How do you imagine your child’s residential environment? Is it your plan for your child to remain with family, friends, or will there be an organization tasked with their living situation? If your child is unable to stay with the family, what is your hope for an alternative living environment? If they are placed in a group home, would you like it to be in your current community? Should the living arrangements be in a smaller or larger setting? Does your child want to live alone or have roommates?

What type of social environment does your child prefer? Do they enjoy sports, movies, or video games? Can your child be given spending money, and how have they fared handling cash in the past? Does your child travel to visit family or take vacations? With whom do they travel most successfully and happily? Include a description of your child’s religious environment. Does your child routinely attend services? What church, synagogue, or mosque do they frequent? What local clergy might know your family and your child?

What are your desires for your child’s final arrangements? Does your child have a will and any advance directives? Where are these legal documents? Have you planned for a funeral, burial or cremation, cemetery, gravestone, or religious service? Is there someone specific you prefer to officiate the ceremony?

As your letter of intent takes shape, you might realize there is other information you want to share to provide the best guidance to the person who will care for your child. In your annual review of your LOI, you may find some passages unnecessary as your child grows up. You may want to include new detail as your child’s personality develops. Think of it as a living document to be edited, added to, whatever you think will serve your child’s interests best. Put your letter of intent with your other relevant legal and personal documents. Writing a letter of intent can be a very emotional experience and a difficult document to write because you must think about how your child will live in the world without you, their parent. Approach this letter as a gift to your child and their future. You know your child better than anyone else. Even in your absence, you can still help to guide their future life, hopes, and dreams.

We help families create legal plans for loved ones with special needs. If you would like to discuss your particular needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact our office by calling us at (318) 255-1760 and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your special needs planning.

Destructive Myths About Divorce Litigation

Don’t make these mistakes when thinking about your divorce litigation

  1. Don’t try to win at any cost.    Divorce litigation brings out the worse in many people.  Winning at any costs usually means you pay more than the outcome is worth just for revenge.  After 29 years of litigating divorces, we can attest to to the fact that neither side “wins.”  Litigating out of principle usually means you spend a lot of money trying to make yourself happy, and end up unhappy anyway.
  2. If you are stubborn, you can control of the outcome.  Setting your feet in stone and refusing to budge usually does not get you the win you thought it would.  A fair settlement is one where both parties walk away without getting everything they wanted.  If the judge has to decide, both parties usually lose more than they would have had they simply sat down and worked it out.
  3. You made all the money and she stayed home, so you own all the property.  Louisiana law requires the court to divide debt and assets equally, no matter which spouse paid for the asset or which spouse ran up the bill.  The only exceptions are if the spouse used money from an inheritance or a gift, or money the spouse had before the marriage to purchase the asset.  Therefore, the fact you worked 80 hours a week while your spouse stayed home is irrelevant.
  4. This is all your spouse’s fault.  As the old saying goes “It takes two to tango.”  There is always enough fault to go around.  Calling our your spouses faults and failings will likely get a response from the other side pointing out your faults in graphic detail.
  5. Your concept of fair is not likely to coincide with the law.  See #4 above.
  6. The judge will see it your way.  The judge is charged with following the law.  See #4 above.  If you are fighting over custody of children, the court does not care about you.  It only cares about what it sees as the result that will advance the best interest of the children.  That usually means as much time as possible with each parent, a child support award based on the guidelines, and both of you ordered not to disparage the other in front of the children and to support the child’s relationship with the other parent.

 

Marriage ending? Preplanning can help smooth the way

One of the most stressful in life is said to be a divorce.  It will not be easy, but pre-planning and taking some steps before you pull the trigger on the divorce will help lower the stress level.

Know what you (both) own and owe.

What you own:

Inventory your assets.  Include bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, antiques, collections, motor vehicles, real estate, guns, and anything else of real value.  Do not get hung up on household goods and furniture (unless the piece is an antique) as used household goods and furniture have a very small value in the real world.  For each item estimate (do a good faith estimate for now):

  • the value of the asset
  • indicate when the asset was acquired
  • describe what funds were used to acquire the assets, such as were the funds inherited or gifted, or in the possession of either spouse before the marriage
  • determine if there is money owed against the property and if so how much.

It is easier to inventory your assets before you split up.  Make copies of any documentation that backs up your data.

What you owe:

It is a good idea check your credit report.  Like assets, it is easier to determine what you owe before you split.  Running a credit report can be an eye opening experience, especially if your spouse has opened credit accounts without your knowledge and listed you as a creditor.  No, they are not supposed to do that, but it does happen.

Make a list of all of your debts and include:

  • The current balance of the debt
  • What the debt was for
  • The monthly payment on the debt
  • When the debt was incurred.

Be sure to include student loans, including student loans incurred by your spouse during the marriage.  Yep, those may be community debts.

Determine whether your income taxes have been paid up to date.

This can be an ugly surprise if you have let your spouse handle the taxes.  Get copies of your last 5 years income tax returns.  If a return has not been filed, sit down with your accountant pronto and determine how to minimize the damage.  Failure to file and failure to pay can lead to significant penalties and interest.

Copy all of your important papers and keep them in  place that will always be accessible to you.

Keep a copy of all of your important papers in a place outside of your marital residence.  Safe deposit boxes work well.  Be sure to gather:

  • Tax returns
  • Mortgage and loan documents
  • Bank records
  • Titles and deeds
  • Investment and bank account records

If an emergency requires you to walk away in the middle of the night, you won’t have time to scramble around to get your documents.  It may be months before you are able to get copies through the divorce process.

Put aside money for the process.

Divorce can be an expensive project.  Most experienced divorce lawyers will require a substantial retainer before taking on your case.  There are no contingent fee (only pay if we win) cases in family law.  The more complex or bitter the divorce, the more it will cost.  In addition to the attorney fees, there will be court fees and there maybe expert witness fees, appraiser expenses and court reporter fees.

Make a budget.

Two people can live together cheaper than two people living separate.  Assume you will get no funds from your spouse for six months.  How are you going to live pending a court order or resolution?  You will need rent, food, transportation costs, etc.  The last thing you want to do is to have to settle your support or property division on terms that are not fair because you are desperate for money.

Change your passwords and logins.

All of them:

  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Lock screen on your phone
  • Websites
  • Your computer.

While you are at it, back up your hard drive to the cloud, copy the files or make a clone and make sure you will have access to your documents and data if your spouse grabs the computer and runs.

Don’t wait until the last minute to hire a lawyer.

It is good insurance to sit down with an attorney to preplan.  Things to cover with the attorney:

  • Ask them to educate you on what property and debts are divided
  • Have them explain the process to your so you know what to expect when and if you actually proceed
  • Discuss costs and fees so you can plan ahead
  • Be honest with the attorney about the facts and circumstances of the case.  If you are not honest, you may get bad advice because the attorney is unaware of the real facts.

 

Don’t risk a disaster.  Instead, hire an experienced family law lawyer to protect your interests.  Shelley Goff at Goff and Goff Attorneys has been practicing family law for 28 years.  Call us. We can help you navigate the divorce process as smoothly as possible.  318-255-1760.

 

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They are not just her kids

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Parenting is hard.  It is even harder when a couple breaks up.  Whether it is a friendly breakup or an all out civil war, crafting the custodial arrangement requires a balancing of parental rights with the best interests of the children.

Dads are not second class citizens

Louisiana law treats both moms and dads with equal respect and responsibility.  Some of the misguided philosophies we hear are:

  • “my children” versus “our children.”
  • “they will live with me because I am the mom.”
  • “until he pays up on his child support, he will not see the children.”
  • “I will find my children a better dad.”
  • He left me so he also left the children.

Neither parent has an upper hand in Louisiana custody proceedings. Dad’s are just as capable as moms, and just as important.   It is  the best interest of the children that govern the outcome of a custody fight.

When parents cannot agree, the Court has to determine the best interest of the children

How does a judge determine what is in the best interest of the children?  The statutes provide a non-exhaustive list:

• The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.

• The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child.

• The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.

• The length of time the child has lived in a  stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment

• The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes

• The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.

• The mental and physical health of each party

• The home, school and community history of the child

• The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference

• The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party.

• The distance between the respective residences of the parties

• The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.

Children need both parents, before and after a breakup.

Dads are equally equipped to provide the stability and care the court will be looking for.  However, if Dad has not been fulfilling his parental duties while the couple was together, he will have a hard time convincing the court that he is now the better provider.  Dads who want to ensure they are on equal footing with mom in the case of a breakup make sure they are on equal footing in the care of the children before the breakup.  You will only be treated as a second class citizen if you have historically been treating your parental duties as unimportant.

Avoid the risk of loosing time with your kids

Don’t risk a disaster.  Instead, hire an experienced family law lawyer to protect your interests and make sure your parental rights are protected.  Shelley Goff at Goff and Goff Attorneys has been practicing family law for 28 years.  Call us. We can help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.  318-255-1760.

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The Pitfalls of the Do It Yourself Divorce Part #4

This post is the fourth post in a series where we alert you to the pitfalls of the Do It Yourself divorce.

Pitfall #4  Letting your spouse hire the attorney.

You decided not to hire an attorney.  Instead you will trust your spouse to hire the attorney to do the paperwork.  After all, you know your spouse will be fair.  Besides this will save a ton of money.

The Risks

That attorney your spouse hired?  He doesn’t represent you.  Your spouse is the client and the attorney owes a loyalty only to your spouse.  The attorney will work to get only what his client, your spouse, wants, not what you want.  That attorney does not have a duty to explain to you the implications of your agreement with your spouse.

Example:  You agree to do something without understanding the repercussions:

You and your spouse bought a home and there is a mortgage payment due every month.  Your spouse files for divorce. You agree to make the house payment while the divorce is pending or until it is sold.    The attorney writes the agreement up saying you make the house payment as spousal support.  You think, no big deal, I agreed to make the house payment, and you sign the agreement.  The court approves the agreement and makes it an order of the court.  Do you see what happened there?  If not, you needed an attorney.  You just cost yourself some money in your property division.

Example:  You don’t know your rights:

Your spouse’s attorney advises them to wait the separation period before filing for a divorce.  You go along with this plan.  You know you can’t get a divorce in Louisiana until you have lived separate and apart for 365 days if you have children.  Its 180 days if you have no children.  So you wait.  In the meantime, your spouse starts galavanting around the world, spending his paycheck on himself, taking trips and generally living it up.  You, on the other hand, are slaving to make ends meet.  He gives you a bit of cash here and there to “help” with the kids.  That’s only fair because he makes 3 times what you make.

As the separation time gets short, things start to go south quickly.  He stops giving you any cash and jets off on a vacation.  Its then that you make an appointment with an attorney.  You find out that he should have been paying you a lot more, enough that you would not have struggled over the past 11 months.  But, those months are gone, and he isn’t going to have to pay retroactive because you had nothing on file at the courthouse.

Avoid The Risk

Don’t risk a disaster.  Instead, hire an experienced family law lawyer to protect your interests and make sure you know your rights.  Shelley Goff at Goff and Goff Attorneys has been practicing family law for 28 years.  Call us. We can help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.  318-255-1760.

 

The Pitfalls of the Do It Yourself Divorce Part #2

This post is the second post in a series where we alert you to the pitfalls of the Do It Yourself divorce.

Pitfall #2  Utilizing forms drafted by non-lawyers.

You may have seen those creative entrepreneurs marketing their divorce document preparation services on social media pages like Facebook.  “Save money!  No attorney needed!  Let me draft your divorce documents for you!”  Just like the problems with internet forms (see Pitfall #1) you risk an invalid divorce if those forms are incorrect. In addition,  forms created by a non-lawyer may not operate the way you thought they were going to, or meet the technical requirements of the statutes.

The Risk

Also, there is much more to a divorce than simply filling out documents and filing them with a court.  You need to know the implications of the documents your sign and file.  Do you understand your rights and obligations under the law?  Are you utilizing the correct process for your situation?  The process your friendly document preparer choses to use may not be the right one for your situation.  And by using one process you may be losing the benefits of another process.

For example, we recently represented a client who had been told to wait to file for divorce until she could utilize the quick process.  By doing so, she lost out on a large sum of money she was entitled as support under the  more complicated process.  She didn’t know because her non-lawyer friend didn’t know.  The money she saved by not getting legal counsel at the beginning of the case is very small in comparison to the amount of money she lost by not utilizing the more “expensive” procedure in the beginning.   Her opportunity is gone and we can’t bring it back.

In another example, a client almost ended up with an invalid divorce because he thought he could “fudge” on some facts.   His non-lawyer preparation person did not understand the importance of the details of the divorce, and nearly caused a disaster.

Non-lawyers Practicing Law

Not only is it risky to use a non-lawyer to draft legal documents, the non-lawyer is practicing law without a license punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a fine.  You have a right to prepare your own legal documents and make your own mistakes. However, a non-lawyer does not have the right to prepare legal documents for you.  If they say they do, they clearly do not understand the law and that should make you hesitate in accepting their help.

Avoid The Risk

Don’t risk a disaster.  Instead, hire an experienced family law lawyer to protect your interests and make sure your divorce is valid.  Shelley Goff at Goff and Goff Attorneys has been practicing family law for 28 years.  Call us. We can help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.  318-255-1760.

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The Pitfalls of the Do It Yourself Divorce Part #3

This post is the third post in a series where we alert you to the pitfalls of the Do It Yourself divorce.

Pitfall #3 Failure to understand court procedure.

Louisiana procedure is technical and not intuitive.  Lawyers are required to take classes in law school to prepare them for courtroom procedure because courtroom  procedure is complex.  Not only does each state have its own rules for courtroom procedure, nearly district within Louisiana has its own “local rules.” To add more to the mix,  each judge has his or her way of doing things.  You need to know all three sets of rules to be successful in court.

The Risks

If you don’t know and follow the rule, you can not show the court your side of the case. For example, you want the court to consider a document you brought with you.   But, if you don’t know the rules of evidence, the court may decline to consider your document. Perhaps you didn’t “lay foundation”  or you didn’t “authenticate” or the other side objects.   You may miss deadlines related to your case resulting in your case being dismissed.

A court proceeding is no place to wing it. You will be spending hundreds of dollars on court fees with our without an attorney.   Your will have wasted that money if your case is thrown out or your claims denied.  If you don’t like the outcome, you will probably be stuck with it.  Appeals are very expensive and winning an appeal is not easy.  The best place to win your case is in the trial court, not the appeals court.

We recently spoke with a woman who represented herself in the child custody phase of her divorce.  While she had a strong case, she lost custody of her kids.   She lost because she did not understand how to get her evidence before the court for consideration. The court made the decision without her evidence and awarded custody of the children to the husband. It will be very difficult and expensive change custody now.

Don’t risk a disaster.  Instead, hire an experienced family law lawyer to protect your interests and make sure your divorce is valid.  Shelley Goff at Goff and Goff Attorneys has been practicing family law for 28 years.  Call us. We can help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.  318-255-1760.

 

 

The Pitfalls of The Do It Yourself Divorce Part #1

Doing your own divorce in Louisiana without an attorney?   What could go wrong?

Just like doing your own surgery, handling any legal proceeding on your own is fraught with danger.     Do you know what you are signing?   Are you sure you fully understand the implications of what you are asking the court to do for you?  Are better options for you?  Do you understand what your obligations are?  This series illustrates just a few of the problems with self-representation in family law cases.

Pitfall #1  Using internet forms.

Louisiana’s laws are different than any other state’s laws. Internet forms may not contain the necessary elements to render an effective divorce or properly divide your property and debts.

Disclaimers, Disclaimers….

These websites have lots of disclaimers.  You can find them at the bottom of the page or on a back page.  When you read them, you will see that they are telling you not to totally trust the forms.  First, they tell you the site is not a law firm. Second, they warn you that the site does not provide advice, legal opinions or a recommendation.  Third, the site specifically states it provides no guarantee the forms are up to date with changes in the law. Fourth, you are warned the site is not a substitution for consulting an attorney.

The Risk

When you use  a form that does not fully meet the Louisiana requirements or the proper process and procedure throughout the case, your divorce may not be valid. For example, your divorce judgment is granted and you go about your business. Years later you discover that you made a mistake in your paperwork or in the process you used.  By then, you may have remarried. You may have accumulated significant assets.   This has actually happened in Louisiana and the courts were not sympathetic. 16 years after a couple’s divorce was granted, a court found the divorce was not initiated using the proper process for the couple’s situation.  Therefore, the court ruled the divorce was invalid, and they were still married.

If your divorce judgment is found to be invalid, your ex spouse will have claims against the assets you accumulated after the judgment.  In addition, you may be responsible for debts your ex-spouse ran up after the judgment.  Even worse, assuming it can get worse, and it can, your remarriage may not be legal.

Don’t risk a disaster.  Instead, hire an experienced family law lawyer to protect your interests and make sure your divorce is valid.  Shelley Goff at Goff and Goff Attorneys has been practicing family law for 28 years.  Call us. We can help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.  318-255-1760.

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