Divorce and Family Law

Posted on Jun 9, 2014

Dedicated New Orleans Divorce
Family Law Attorneys

Divorce can be a difficult and stressful process, especially if children are involved. In addition to the emotional issues you already face, navigating the legal process presents additional challenges.

At the law office of Rittenberg, Samuel & Phillips, L.L.C., we represent clients throughout Louisiana, including metropolitan New Orleans and southeast Louisiana, in divorce and related matters. Our attorneys will help you arrive at an effective resolution to your family law matter and ensure that your best interests are protected.

Tailored Approaches to Meet Your Unique Needs

We know that in divorce, every family situation is different. Our attorneys will work closely with you to understand your unique goals and develop strategies to meet them.

Divorce and other family law concerns involve some of the most important decisions you will ever make. These choices will have long-lasting ramifications for all parties involved. We believe it is essential to keep our clients informed so that they are fully advised of their options, as well as the advantages and disadvantage of each. To minimize the time, cost and emotional impact of a divorce, we will advise you on alternatives to litigation, such as mediation and collaborative divorce.

From the making the decision of whether to separate to developing a custody plan, rely on us to provide you the guidance you need.

Comprehensive Guidance

In addition to the divorce itself, we will also represent you in related issues, including:

  • Child custody and visitation: We will advise you on your rights and responsibilities with regard to joint, shared and sole custody. Our firm wholeheartedly supports Louisiana laws aimed protecting the best interests of children.
  • Child support: In Louisiana, child support is determined by the application of state guidelines. We will ensure that the guidelines are correctly applied in your case.
  • Spousal support/alimony: Louisiana law provides for spousal support/alimony in certain situations, and the court grants alimony at its discretion. We will advise you on your rights with regard to alimony and explain the factors that the court will consider in your case.
  • Property division: We encourage parties to reach agreement on how property will be divided because of the high cost of trial. However, where parties cannot agree, Louisiana law establishes ownership rights based on whether property is separate or community. Community property is generally split as evenly as possible between the parties. We will help you understand the community property regime and what to expect from the partition.
  • Enforcement and modification of custody or support orders: If your former spouse has failed or refused to comply with a custody or support order, we will help you seek court enforcement of his or her obligations. If there has been a material change in financial or other life circumstances, we will assist you in seeking a modification of a custody or support order.

Divorce, Support, and other issues: Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve tried everything but my marriage just isn’t working. We’ve tried therapy. We’ve tried everything. I hate the thought of going through a divorce but I’m afraid it’s my only alternative. Should I move out and then see a lawyer, or should I see a lawyer first?

You should absolutely consult with an attorney who handles family law cases before you move out and before you do anything else on your own. During our initial meeting with you, we will answer your questions. We recommend that you bring with you a list of questions. If you have children, then we will discuss custody, visitation, and support issues with you. We will explain the law to you and give you our opinion of your case. We will discuss strategies with you and recommend the best approaches, individually tailored to meet your situation and designed to meet your goals.

Is it necessary to first obtain a legal separation?


Who will have custody of the children?

Custody will be one of the most in issues that we will discuss when we meet with you. The type of custody arrangement will depend on your particular situation, and of course, the best interest of the children. When you meet with us, we will explain the difference between “shared custody,” “joint custody” and “sole custody.”

We will encourage you and the other parent to try to agree on a schedule that is best for the children. This will depend on the age of the children, where they attend school, your living accommodations, and many other factors.

How will the amount of child support be determined?

There is a chart that takes into account the number of children and the income of the parents. The amount will also depend on other factors, such as health insurance, daycare and school tuition. During our initial consultation, we will provide you with an estimate of the amount of child support. It is important to remember that child support will be owed retroactively to the date of filing the appropriate court papers requesting child support.

What about spousal support?

Spousal support will depend on financial need and other issues. We will also discuss this with you during the initial consultation.

I am worried that my spouse will continue using credit cards. Will I be required to pay those debts? What should I do to protect myself?

There are several strategies to avoid your having to pay those debts. We will discuss those with you during the initial consultation – so that you select the best strategy tailored to your particular situation.

I am worried that if my spouse will empty the bank account, take everything that has value. What should I do?

There are several strategies to prevent this from happening. We will also discuss those with you during the initial consultation – so that you select the best strategy tailored to your particular situation.

During our marriage, we purchased a house, cars, furniture, etc. How will that be divided? And we also have debts. Who will be required to pay the debts?

The easiest, fastest, and least expensive way to divide both assets and debts is for you and your spouse to agree on how it is to be divided. But we recommend that you consult with an attorney before making decisions, so that you know your rights and have an understanding of Louisiana’s community property laws.

If you and your spouse can’t agree on how your property and debts are to be divided, then the Judge will do so. We encourage our clients to try to reach an agreement so that the Court doesn’t end up dividing the property. But this can wait. You aren’t required to divide ownership at the beginning of the case. In most situations, emotions simmer down as time goes by, and you and your spouse will realize that if you succeed in agreeing how the property will be divided it will be more tailor-made to each of your needs, and less costly, than if the Court does it.

You keep suggesting that we reach agreements with each other. But reaching agreements (and also communicating with each other) is impossible. If my spouse and I could reach agreements we probably wouldn’t be getting a divorce… 

Good point. Once again, there are strategies: for example, mediation. That is a process where a trained mediator will help each of you try to reach an agreement. Sometimes court is the only alternative. That’s why it’s so important to have an attorney during the entire process.

You mean someone other than a Judge will force us to agree on something?

No. The mediator will try to guide you all through the process of reaching an agreement. The mediator would not have the power or authority to force any decision on you. That’s the beauty of medication: you all make the decision, which is tailored to your particular situations. If you do not agree, then the Judge will decide.

But mediation costs money, doesn’t it?

Yes, but a lot less than a court battle, and it’s a lot faster, too.

We know that there are situations where it will be necessary for a Judge to decide. We will thoroughly prepare you for hearings and trial beforehand.

I read on the internet that I am entitled to………….

Be careful! There’s a lot of information on the web that applies to laws in other states, not Louisiana. And there is a lot of misinformation, too.

My cousin got a divorce and he (or she)…………

It’s sometimes beneficial to hear about situations that other people have experienced. But remember: no two situations are identical.

This is all so overwhelming. What is one of us wants to move out of state? What if the children don’t like the custody arrangement? What if there isn’t enough money?

We know that it’s overwhelming. We also know that the law can be confusing. That’s why we feel that so important to have an attorney who listens and who is accessible. We promptly return phone calls. We will do everything we can to clearly de-mystify the process.

The initial appointment is the key that opens the door to understanding these issues and helps you begin to consider strategies to accomplish your goals. We recommend that you schedule an appointment so that we can discuss your concerns and answer your questions.









To schedule an appointment with an experienced family lawyer, contact us online or call 504-524-5555. We promptly return all calls.  Our office is open Monday through Friday from 8 to 5, with off-site meetings available by appointment.