Family Law

LAKE CHARLES FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS

At The Johnson Firm, we represent clients from Southwest Louisiana in all areas of family law including divorce, custody, support, community property division, adoption, and those impacted by domestic violence. 

Let our experienced Lake Charles family law attorneys help you through the complex legal landscape and seek justice for you and your family. Call 337.427.8961 today to schedule your consultation.

 

What is family law?

Family law is a specific area of state law handling issues related to families and households. While many people believe that family law only involves divorce lawyers, a Lake Charles family law attorney can also help with issues such as child custody, spousal and child support, adoption, parental rights, community property issues, and domestic violence.

A family case is a form of civil case that’s heard in Louisiana’s family court system. Civil cases involve disputes or issues between two people, whereas criminal court involves a state or federal government prosecuting someone for a crime.

Family court has limited jurisdiction. In some instances, criminal and family law can overlap, such as in cases involving domestic abuse. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may have an ongoing case in a family court while the other party may face a separate case through criminal court.

lake charles family law lawyerWhat does a family law attorney do?

Our Lake Charles family law attorneys aren’t just experienced legal professionals; we provide the most compassionate, conscientious services in the area, and we’re confident that you’ll be pleased with the way we handle your case. 

Other lawyers stretch themselves too thin and forget who’s most important – you and your family.

A family law attorneys at The Johnson Firm will represent you throughout the divorce process, including issues related to the divorce such as property division, child custody and child support, and alimony payments.

But we don’t just deal with divorce – our family lawyers also draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and can litigate related issues, as well as defending victims of domestic violence and victims of false allegations.

As you can see, family law attorneys provide invaluable services to their clients. These issues can get complicated quickly, so it’s in your best interest to hire a competent lawyer from The Johnson Firm. 

We put you and your family first, and we’ll work hard to obtain the best result possible.

 

What is contempt of court in family law?

In family law, contempt of court means that one or both of the parties willfully disobeyed a court order. “Willful disobedience” could mean that a parent failed to abide by a court-issued order such as paying spousal or child support. It could also mean they interfered with the other parent’s visitation rights.

A more serious (and rare) form of contempt of court, criminal contempt is imposed when a party deliberately acts to obstruct justice, such as willfully disobeying a court order for the second time.

Contempt of court can carry a range of penalties depending on the nature and severity of the act. These penalties are referred to as “sanctions” and often involve fines as well as the other party’s attorney’s fees. In more serious cases, sanctions may include jail time.

 

Types of Family Law Cases

The experienced Lake Charles family law attorneys at The Johnson Firm have served Southwest Louisiana since 1980 with compassion and a commitment to achieving the best possible outcome. Whether you want to change the terms of support or custody, are seeking a divorce, adopting a child, or need to divide your community property, our attorneys are here to help.

 

Divorce

Divorce can be one of the most emotionally and financially devastating events you will ever endure. When a divorce is contested or complicated by property, child custody, or support issues, it’s even more challenging.

Divorce lawyers in Lake Charles can assist through every stage of the divorce process by helping gather evidence to support your case. We also assist with setting terms for support, custody, and property division, negotiating settlements, representing you in court, and providing sound and objective advice.

 

Child Custody

One of the most common areas in which a Lake Charles family law attorney can help is in matters of child custody. Custody can be a very contentious and emotional issue regardless of whether part of a divorce, long after the divorce, or if the parties were never married.

When the parents can’t decide on custody issues, the court will intervene and consider issues related to the best interest of the children, such as each parent’s income, the mental and physical health of the parents, traditional roles of each parent, work schedules, and many other factors. 

Divorce and child custody lawyers will work with you to secure custody and arrange a situation that will benefit everyone.

 

Child Support

Any time there are issues involving child custody, whether part of a divorce or not, one of the biggest issues that needs to be resolved is child support. In Louisiana, child support is calculated based on a formula that relies on several factors – the income of each parent, the amount of time the child is with each parent, any childcare-related expenses, health insurance premiums paid on behalf of the child, and any extraordinary expenses of the child.  

Louisiana has two child support calculations that can be used: one for when a parent has the majority of the time with the child and the other parent visits, and another calculation for when parents have equal time with the child or custody of the child.

An experienced family law attorney in Lake Charles can help you understand what to expect as a custodial or non-custodial parent and seek a fair and reasonable support amount.

 

Spousal Support

Spousal support is a separate support amount that may be awarded to a spouse during and after a divorce. In Louisiana, there are two types of spousal support – Interim and Final.  

In a divorce, the court may award interim support while the divorce is pending and up to six months after the divorce.  This type of support has nothing to do with fault and is determined based on the lifestyle of the parties during the marriage and the income and expenses of the parties at the time of the divorce. Interim spousal support terminates if the spouse receiving support is living with someone in the manner of a married person.

Final spousal support is an amount awarded to a party that is free from fault in the breakup of the marriage and is in need of support.  It does not factor in the lifestyle of the marriage and is based on the spouse’s ability to meet their needs.

There isn’t a formula for interim or final support like there is for child support, so your attorney must present your evidence effectively for your spousal support result to be fair.  Many issues can impact how much and how long someone receives or pays support. 

If you are going through a divorce, it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel if you believe you are entitled to support or you believe your spouse will be seeking support.

lake charles family lawyerAdoption

While many people work with family attorneys in Lake Charles during difficult times in their life, a family lawyer can also help you during one of the most wonderful – adopting a child. Louisiana recently set a record for the most adoptions in a year, with over 900 foster children being adopted.

This figure doesn’t even include other types of adoptions, such as stepparent adoptions and private adoptions. A family law attorney can guide you through the adoption process and navigate complications, especially with intra-family adoptions that require terminating parental rights and private adoptions with complex rules.

Whether you are looking to adopt or have been notified that someone wants to adopt your child, our Lake Charles family lawyers are here to help and guide you through this area of the law.

 

Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement may have negative connotations for some, but this legal tool is designed to protect both parties and any children in case of divorce.

A prenuptial agreement is used to clarify property and assets that have been brought into a marriage, make plans to care for and protect children from a previous relationship, and even plan for support if the marriage ends. 

A family law attorney at The Johnson Firm can help you create a binding and fair prenuptial agreement that protects both parties in case of divorce.

 

Domestic Violence

A domestic violence case involves threats or abuse between two individuals in a close relationship, whether or not they have ever been married. In cases involving domestic violence or stalking, a family attorney can help a victim who feels threatened and fears for their safety petition the court for a protective order.

A protective order can be long-term or temporary if there is immediate danger of abuse or harm. If an aggressor violates the order, which limits contact with the protected party, the aggressor can be arrested. A family law lawyer can also help clients fight false allegations of domestic violence.

 

Emancipation

Emancipation is a court process that allows a minor to become legally self-supporting with the adult responsibility to manage their own welfare. Through emancipation, a minor is no longer legally under the care of their parents.

lake charles family lawyerBenefits of Working With a Family Law Lawyer

Many areas of family law can be incredibly complex. A Lake Charles family law attorney doesn’t just help you protect your legal rights; they also serve as your advocate and help you seek a fair resolution for you and your family. 

Dealing with any type of legal situation is stressful enough, but it can be even more emotional and contentious when it comes to areas like child custody, spousal support, child support, community property partition, and divorce.

An experienced family law attorney has intimate knowledge of Louisiana family laws and uses this to seek the best possible outcome. Your attorney will also ensure paperwork is filed properly and help you navigate all areas of family law, whether adoption, support, asset division, or abuse.

 

How can hiring a lawyer help your case when filing for divorce? 

Even if you and your spouse agree on most issues, an attorney can make sure you are protected legally, ensure financial issues are fair, and make sure paperwork is completed correctly.

In a more contentious divorce or child custody matter, a family law attorney in Lake Charles can help avoid bullying and intimidation, seek financial security for yourself and/or children, provide objective support, and make sure the agreement is fair. 

Legal counsel is especially important if you believe your spouse is hiding assets, you have been subjected to abuse or neglect, or you are seeking spousal support and filing divorce on the grounds of fault.

 

What to Look for When Hiring a Family Law Lawyer

You have options when hiring a family law attorney in Lake Charles to represent you. As you compare attorneys in your area, consider experience and expertise, but also how comfortable you feel with the attorney after a consultation.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, including how much experience the attorney has with cases similar to yours, past results they have achieved, and the strategy they would use to help resolve your case. Is the attorney easy to understand? Do you feel comfortable with their approach and having them represent you in negotiations or court?  

Most importantly – do you trust them with your case and your family?

 

Contact a Lake Charles Family Law Attorney Today

No matter what type of family law issue you are facing, the compassionate family law attorneys at The Johnson Firm are here to help. We support you through the entire process and offer sound legal advice while protecting your rights. 

Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with a family law attorney or divorce lawyer in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Family Law Questions & Answers

Yes, in Louisiana you can adopt an adult 18 years or older without court approval “only when the adoptive parent is the spouse or the surviving spouse of a parent of the person being adopted.”

In other situations, the court must find, upon judicial hearing, that the adoption is in the best interest of both parties.

There are several resources available to Louisiana citizens going through divorce or child custody proceedings. You can visit the Louisiana Law Search feature on the state’s main legislative page to read through all relevant laws and statutes regarding divorce and related issues.

Additionally, the Louisiana State Bar has dozens of guides pertaining to marriage, divorce, parenting, and child support. These resources answer questions like, “When can someone obtain a divorce?” and “How is child support determined?”

Lastly, the Children’s Rights Council (CRC) based in Washington, DC works to ensure that children have meaningful, continuing contact with their parents regardless of their marital status.

You can access all of these resources online, but the best way to get all the information you need and obtain the most favorable outcome is by hiring a Lake Charles family law attorney.

Yes, a child can have a say in which of their parents has custody, but only on a case-by-case basis, and only if the judge determines that the child is mature enough. For example, most judges believe that a five-year-old child is too young to make such an important decision. When children are 12 and older, courts will usually give the child’s preference more weight.

Even then, courts don’t have to follow the child’s preference. They decide how much weight to give the child’s opinion by considering the child’s rationale. 

For example, if a 13-year-old boy wants to live with his mother because his father makes him do more chores, the court probably won’t give much weight to that preference. However, if the father has a history of domestic violence or can’t provide basic living necessities, the court probably won’t grant him custody.

The judge is more likely to give the child’s opinion weight by considering their opinion on their relationship with each parent, as well as the parent’s involvement in their educational and social activities.

Legally, a “child” is someone under the age of 18 who is under the care and supervision of a parent or guardian. In most states, once the child turns 18 they’ve reached “the age of majority,” or adult status, meaning they now have certain privileges that were previously unavailable.

The law doesn’t consider emancipated children (minors) to be under the care and control of parental figures. Instead, they assume most adult responsibilities before their 18th birthday.

Once a minor becomes emancipated, their parent(s) or guardian(s) have no say over their life. The minor can decide where to live, keep earnings from a job, make their own medical decisions, and more. They may also:

  • Enter into legally-binding contracts, such as a lease agreement
  • Enroll in school
  • Sue or be sued in court
  • Make healthcare decisions related to abortion and birth control

 

Now that you know what emancipated minors can do, let’s discuss how they obtain emancipation:

  • Getting married – In Louisiana, the minimum marriage age is 16. 
  • Joining the military – Although minors can become emancipated through military enlistment, current policies require enlistees to present a high school diploma or GED, which is usually obtained by teenagers aged 17 or 18.
  • Obtaining a court’s permission – In Louisiana, a minor must be at least 16 years old to receive emancipation permission from a court. Several factors go into the court’s determination of whether or not to grant emancipation, including whether the minor can be financially self-sufficient and whether the minor is sufficiently mature to make decisions and function as an adult.
  • Obtaining parental consent (no court permission required).

The answer to this question depends on your intent. Under Louisiana law, you are obligated to notify the other parent if you plan to move with your child to another state, but you must also notify them if you plan to move with your child more than 75 miles from your current domicile or more than 75 miles from the child’s principal residence.

This law applies even if you have sole custody, unless your ex has passed away or had their parental rights taken from them. Only in those specific instances may you move with your child across state lines without notifying the other parent.

If you plan to travel out of state with your child, you’ll also need to consult your custody and visitation orders to find out whether you’re obligated to notify the other parent and receive their written permission.

The order may require that you notify them, with advance notice, before traveling with your child out of state. Even if you aren’t required to get their written permission, it’s a good idea to do so anyway. Written permission could be helpful in future proceedings or if an issue arises where the other parent claims they do not know where their child is and files a missing persons report.

Yes, in Louisiana you can file a protective order against your abuser under the following conditions:

 

  • The abuser is a family member (current or former spouse, child, step-child, foster child, grandchild, parent, step-parent, foster parent, or grandparents)
  • The abuser is a household member, meaning you and the abuser are or were in a sexual/intimate relationship and are or were living in the same home
  • The abuser is a dating partner (someone with whom you are or were involved in a sexual/intimate relationship, regardless of whether you lived together)

 

If you and/or your children are in danger and need immediate assistance, you can contact the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence for help at (888) 411-1333.

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You’ll want a partner and advocate who can confidently maneuver the emotional and financial intricacies of any family law matter. From custody, child support, and community property, to adoption and prenuptial agreements, we’re committed to protecting you and the best interests of your family.

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