Northshore Divorce and Custody

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Stephen Rue, Esq.

Stephen Rue & Associates Family Law Firm Child Custody

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a divorce in Louisiana?

You must live separate and apart from your spouse for twelve months if you have children under the age of 18, and six months if there are no children under 18. There are exceptions to these six and twelve month rules. In cases involving adultery, these time requirements may be waived. In cases involving protective orders, the twelve month requirement may be reduced to 6 months.

Should I wait until I have been separated for six or twelve months to file for my divorce?

Probably not. Other issues may come into play, including, but not limited to: Spousal support / Alimony, Child support, Use of the family home, Protecting your property rights.

Who gets custody of the children?

Joint custody is presumed by Louisiana divorce law to be in the best interest of the children. Sole child custody is usually awarded in cases involving physical or emotional abuse or substance abuse. Child custodial arrangements are always determined on a case by case basis depending on what the court deems to be in the best interest of the children.

How is child support determined?

Child support is statutorily mandated based on percentages (ratios) of gross income. Child support also includes medical expenses, medical insurance and child care, if necessitated by work. Child support may also include private school tuition and extra curricular activities.

Will I be eligible to receive (or will I have to pay) alimony/ spousal support?

The correct legal term for alimony is spousal support. There are two kinds of spousal support: Interim (temporary) Spousal Support; and Final (permanent) Periodic Support. Both of these can be extremely complicated issues based on the lifestyles to which the parties are accustomed and the availability of money to sustain them. Education, as well as work and earning history may also factor into spousal support determinations.

Will the court determine the outcome of all of my divorce issues including child support, child custody and community property settlement?

Hopefully not. Many things associated with a divorce settlement are not strictly mandated by the law. They are often achieved through agreements reached between the divorcing parties which are then sanctioned by the court. This is why the expertise of an experienced divorce lawyer such as Stephen Rue can be crucial. If an agreement cannot be reached, all unresolved issues will be decided by the judge.
What can I expect in court? Are divorce proceedings (which include all ancillary matters such as child custody, child support, spousal support or alimony, and community property partition) handled in the same way in all parishes?

No. There are significant differences in the way divorce proceedings are conducted in the parishes around New Orleans. Here is a brief overview of what you can expect:

Divorce proceedings in St. Tammany Parish and Washington Parish are conducted using a system of Hearing Officers and Domestic Commissioners. Hearing Officers and Domestic Commissioners are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the elected District Judges in these Louisiana parishes.

Hearing Officers are lawyers trained in mediation whose job is to assist the divorcing parties and their attorneys to reach an amicable settlement of the divorce issues. Sessions with the Hearing Officers are scheduled in advance of any court proceedings and generally last about 90 minutes. If an amicable settlement is reached during one of these sessions, the Hearing Officer will then reduce it to writing, thereby making it legally binding when signed by the DJudge.

If no agreement can be reached on one or more issues, the Hearing Officer will make a recommendation which becomes an interim judgment. If either party disagrees with this judgment, he or she has three (3) days to file an objection and request a hearing before the District Judge. If no objection is filed within this time, the interim judgment becomes a final judgment.

Divorce proceedings in St. Tammany Parish are handled in a system similar but not identical to Jefferson Parish.

Divorce proceedings in New Orleans are relegated to the three (3) most recently elected Judges. These Judges handle only family law cases at the beginning of their terms. All decisions rendered by the judges are binding. In come cases, their decisions may be reversed through appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Divorce proceedings in other metro parishes which include St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, Plaquemines and Terribonne are not handled by Hearing Officers, Domestic Commissioners or the most newly elected Judges. Family law cases in these parishes are assigned, along with a variety of other cases, among all of the sitting, elected Judges.

What is the initial consultation fee to meet with Attorney Stephen Rue in one of his law offices?

$250.  There will be additional fees for services to be rendered  depending on the scope of legal representation needed.