The results of a
car accident can be physically, emotionally, and financially
devastating and can affect you for the rest of your life.
Unfortunately, insurance companies will make every attempt to settle
any and all claims as soon as possible. It is important to retain
legal counsel as soon as possible following an accident because the
insurance companies will be contacting you immediately. You will
notice that the insurance companies are acting quickly. You may
think they are doing this so that you are quickly compensated. While
a quick check may seem tempting at the time, it is important that
all of your damages and injuries are assessed in order to come to a
fair settlement. Insurance companies are interested in settling auto
accident cases soon after an accident and without considering long
term effects of the accident. This is why it is important to consult
with an attorney as soon as possible and before making any
statements to insurance companies.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is already difficult enough,
but knowing that the loss was caused by someone else’s negligence
only adds to the grief. The uncertainty of whether or not those
responsible for someone else’s death will ever face true justice can
be unbearable. If such a tragic event has affected you or a loved
one, you can trust that the attorneys at Vincent & Heard will be with
you every step of the way to make sure those who are responsible are
held accountable for their actions.
Most people rather not think about their death, and many people
don’t, until it’s too late. Perhaps the only thing more difficult
than imagining leaving behind your family is the thought of them
fighting over the things that you left behind rather than cherishing
your memory. Consider some of the questions below before scheduling a
consultation with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys:
What happens if I don’t have a will? If you pass away without
a will, then Louisiana law will control the distribution of your
estate. These laws often have unintended consequences which can
create problems far down the road, especially for a surviving spouse.
It is important to have a valid will to avoid unnecessary costs and
delays for your family after you are gone.
What is a
usufruct? This word may seem funny but has significant legal
consequences. By default, Louisiana law provides that a surviving
spouse gets a usufruct of the decedent’s half of the community
property. This means that the surviving spouse gets the right to use
the property and keep the “fruits” or revenues during his or her
lifetime. However, the surviving spouse may not legally dispose of
that property. The concept of usufruct may make sense when applied to
real estate but can create complications when dealing with other
types of property, like bank accounts and vehicles. Although you may
think you know what will happen to your property after your death, it
is important to contact an attorney to make sure, especially if you
or your spouse have children from another relationship.
Can I make my own will? The quick answer is yes, Louisiana does
recognize holographic, or handwritten, wills. However, there are many
rules regarding handwritten wills. If these rules are not strictly
followed, your will may be completely invalidated, which may cause
more problems than not having a will at all. For this reason, you are
strongly recommended to consult with an attorney to draft and execute
a valid notarial will.
What if I don’t own much property?
Regardless of how much property you own, it is important to have a
valid will. Louisiana recognizes “small successions” and allows for
less complicated procedures for those types of successions. Estates
that are valued under $125,000 are considered “small” and can be
completed by an affidavit instead of the more complicated procedure
for handling larger estates.
Louisiana only recognizes two types of wills. Any document purporting
to be a will that does not conform with the requirements of the
following types is invalid.
cost of long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and
assisted living, can quickly deplete entire estates. It is important
to account for the possibility of these costs far in advance.
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Losing a close friend or family member is emotionally
devastating. During such a difficult time, surviving family members
are faced with many decisions which can be overwhelming when dealing
with the grief of losing a loved one. The attorneys at Vincent &
Heard are here to offer compassionate advice and will walk you
through the probate process every step of the way.
2 Types of Divorce
Louisiana Civil Code Article 103 provides the following grounds for
an “immediate” divorce, except in the case of covenant marriages:
The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously for the
requisite period of time, in accordance with Article 103.1, or more
on the date the petition is filed.
The other spouse has committed adultery.
The other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to
death or imprisonment at hard labor.
During the marriage, the other spouse physically or sexually abused
the spouse seeking divorce or a child of one of the spouses,
regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted for the act of
After a contradictory hearing or consent decree, a protective order
or an injunction was issued during the marriage against the other
spouse to protect the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of
the spouses from abuse.
A Petition for Divorce filed pursuant to Louisiana Civil Code Article
102 requires that the parties live separate and apart for 180 days
(or 365 days if the parties have minor children) from the date the
defendant is served the petition for divorce or from the date that
the defendant executes a waiver of service.
One of the issues that will be decided is who gets to use what items
of community property after the divorce has been filed.
The parties may know what they want. However, it is strongly
recommended that both parties seek the counsel of an experienced
divorce attorney to ensure the agreement is in their best interest.
Many “uncontested” divorces may become “contested” when a party
learns that they are entitled to certain rights or claims that they
were unaware of. Our attorneys recognize that the time, cost, and
frustration of litigation should be avoided if possible. At Vincent &
Heard, we believe that a fair agreement can be attained only after
both parties are completely aware of all of their rights and
obligations created during the marriage.
interim spousal support is based on the needs of the party asking for
spousal support and the ability of the other party to pay. It is
intended to maintain the standard of living shared by the husband and
wife during the marriage.
It is important to note that the fault of one spouse for the breakup
of the marriage is not considered in determining interim spousal
When a spouse has not been at fault prior to the filing of a petition
for divorce and is in need of support, based on the needs of that
party and the ability of the other party to pay, that spouse may be
awarded final periodic support in accordance with Paragraph B of this
The court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the
amount and duration of final support, including:
The income and means of the parties, including the liquidity of such
The financial obligations of the parties, including any interim
allowance or final child support obligation.
The earning capacity of the parties.
The effect of custody of children upon a party's earning capacity.
The time necessary for the claimant to acquire appropriate education,
training, or employment.
The health and age of the parties.
The duration of the marriage.
The tax consequences to either or both parties.
The existence, effect, and duration of any act of domestic abuse
committed by the other spouse upon the claimant or a child of one of
the spouses, regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted
for the act of domestic violence.
When a spouse is awarded a judgment of divorce pursuant to Article
103(2), (3), (4), or (5), or when the court determines that a party
or a child of one of the spouses was the victim of domestic abuse
committed by the other party during the marriage, that spouse is
presumed to be entitled to final periodic support.
The sum awarded under this Article shall not exceed one-third of the
obligor's net income. Nevertheless, when support is awarded after a
judgment of divorce is rendered pursuant to Article 103(4) or (5), or
when the court determines that a party or a child of one of the
spouses was the victim of domestic abuse committed by the other party
during the marriage, the sum awarded may exceed one-third of the
obligor's net income and may be awarded as a lump sum.
Louisiana law provides
that anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage is
presumed community property, meaning each spouse owns half. However,
some exceptions may apply.
Property donated to one spouse individually
The Louisiana Child Support
Guidelines are used by Louisiana courts to determine the amount of child
support that will be ordered. Louisiana law provides, in part, the
Basic principles. The premise of these guidelines as well as the
provisions of the Civil Code is that child support is a continuous
obligation of both parents, children are entitled to share in the
current income of both parents, and children should not be the economic
victims of divorce or out-of-wedlock birth. The economic data underlying
these guidelines, which adopt the Income Shares Model, and the guideline
calculations attempt to simulate the percentage of parental net income
that is spent on children in intact families incorporating a
consideration of the expenses of the parties, such as federal and state
taxes and FICA taxes. While the legislature acknowledges that the
expenditures of two-household divorced, separated, or non-formed
families are different from intact family households, it is very
important that the children of this state not be forced to live in
poverty because of family disruption and that they be afforded the same
opportunities available to children in intact families, consisting of
parents with similar financial means to those of their own parents.
The Incomes Shares approach to child support guidelines incorporates a
numerical schedule of support amounts. The schedule provides economic
estimates of child-rearing expenditures for various income levels and
numbers of children in the household. The schedule is composed of
economic data utilizing a table of national averages adjusted to reflect
Louisiana's status as a low-income state and to incorporate a
self-sufficiency reserve for low-income obligors to form the basic child
In intact families, the income of both parents is pooled and spent for
the benefit of all household members, including the children. Each
parent's contribution to the combined income of the family represents
his relative sharing of household expenses. This same income sharing
principle is used to determine how the parents will share a child
Child custody determinations
are based on the “best interest of the child.” Louisiana Civil Code
Article 134 requires a judge to “consider all relevant factors”
including the following:
Except as provided in Paragraph B of this Article, the court shall
consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of the
The potential for the child to be abused, as defined by Children's Code
Article 603, which shall be the primary consideration.
The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the
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
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 history of substance abuse, violence, or criminal activity of any
The mental and physical health of each party. Evidence that an abused
parent suffers from the effects of past abuse by the other parent shall
not be grounds for denying that parent custody.
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,
except when objectively substantial evidence of specific abusive,
reckless, or illegal conduct has caused one party to have reasonable
concerns for the child's safety or well-being while in the care of the
The distance between the respective residences of the parties.
The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously
exercised by each party.
In cases involving a history of committing family violence, as defined
in R.S. 9:362, or domestic abuse, as defined in R.S. 46:2132, including
sexual abuse, as defined in R.S. 14:403, whether or not a party has
sought relief under any applicable law, the court shall determine an
award of custody or visitation in accordance with R.S. 9:341 and 364.
The court may only find a history of committing family violence if the
court finds that one incident of family violence has resulted in serious
bodily injury or the court finds more than one incident of family
The attorneys and staff at
Vincent & Heard have extensive experience in collecting amounts owed
to our individual and commercial clients. Our collections practice
includes filing suit, completing discovery, conducting judgment
debtor rules, obtaining judgments, and garnishing the debtor’s wages.
Disability discrimination: The Americans with
Family Medical Leave Act
Many laws have been enacted to hold insurance
companies accountable to their policy holders. These laws provide for
stiff penalties where insurance companies are found to have acted in bad
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