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Practice Overview

Custody/Visitation

Custody and Visitation is no longer as clear cut as it once was. Under many circumstances, father’s have been given primary custody of the children, or custody split equally between the parties. There are 12 primary factors that the Court’s review in making their decision as to the proper custodial and/or visitation arrangement for your children. You need an attorney who is well versed in presenting all of your evidence, and especially that evidence which impacts the 12 factors reviewed by the Court.

Child Support

Although child support is a straight forward calculation based on the income of the two parties, it is often not as simple as the calculation would suggest. The child support numbers are based on the income potential of each of the parties, according to formulas worked out by the Court. One or both parties may be considered as voluntarily under employed, which significantly changes the calculation. There are also many expenses that may or may not be included in the child support calculation, in arriving at the final formula to determine your child support amount. Expenses which may be added to child support include, but are not limited to, daycare expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, the income of the minor children, private school tuition, and possibly after school care for school aged children.

Although there are websites who claim to provide calculations of child support amounts, they may or may not properly include these other factors along with other issues such as unreported income, and the benefits of owning a small business. An experienced attorney is necessary to properly guide you through which evidence is and is not relevant to your child support matter.

Divorce

Although a divorce appears on the outside to be a simple matter in the paperwork provided through internet sources, and may also appear to be proper, there are several pitfalls which must be avoided in filing for divorce. These include such things as filing for the divorce in the proper parish. A divorce filed in an improper parish or improper state is null and void, with no effect.Therefore, you may believe that you are divorced, may remarry, and later find out that your divorce from the first spouse was invalid. It may been invalid because it was filed in the wrong parish, in the wrong state, or without obeying the proper deadlines for filing. When it comes to matters of your status as a single, divorced, or married person, these minor errors can have major impacts.

Spousal Support

There are two types of spousal support, interim periodic spousal support and final periodic spousal support, which are regularly granted. Interim periodic spousal support is granted to a spouse for their support between the times when a divorce is filed, and when the divorce is granted. The purpose of interim spousal support is to stabilize the positions of the parties while the divorce is ongoing. The legal basis for interim spousal support is the requirement that spouses support each other during the existence of the marriage, and the marriage exist until such time as it is terminated by a granting of a final decree of divorce.

Final periodic spousal support is granted to a party at any time, but primarily covers the time after the divorce is final. The standard is, when a spouse has not been at fault, 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. Therefore, while interim spousal support is based on the needs of the receiving party, and the ability to pay of the paying party, there is an additional requirement for final spousal support that the receiving party shows that they are free from fault, in the breakup of the marriage.

The obligation of spousal support is extinguished when the receiving party remarries, upon death of either party, the need and the ability to pay of the parties substantially change, or upon proof that the receiving party has co-habitated with another person of either sex, in the manner of married persons. In other words, living together with a romantic partner.

Community Property

Louisiana is a community property state, and you are entitled to one-half of all of the assets you have accumulated during the time of the marriage. That is unless there was a Pre-Nuptial Agreement that specifically stated otherwise. Additionally, many people do not realize that they are also responsible for one-half of the debts accumulated by the community during the time of the marriage. This can come as a quite unpleasant surprise to those who only wish to have half of the equity in the marital home and/or half of the bank accounts. They then find out that they are also liable for IRS bills, credit card bills, and personal loans taken out by the other spouse, during the time of the marriage. Many times, one of the spouses is totally unaware of the size of the credit card bills, or the fact that there is an IRS lien on their property.

The above are just some of the pitfalls that can exist in a community property separation. Retirement accounts, 401(k)’s, and state retirement benefits add significant levels of complexity to community property, and often have to be dealt with through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, approved by the company managing the 401(k), retirement plan, or other benefit plan.

Admiralty & Maritime Law

Richard Mere has actively practiced admiralty & maritime law since 1993, including Jones Act cases, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act cases, cases involving closed head injuries, brain damage, neck and back injuries, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and other serious offshore injuries. This representation has covered individuals working on vessels, jack up rigs, production wells, and offshore platforms.

Auto Accidents

Beginning in 1993, through the present, Richard Mere has handled everything from soft tissue injuries in minor fender benders, to devastating spinal cord injuries, and many types of automobile accidents, including those involving commercial trucks, simple 2 car accidents, and complex automobile accidents involving accident reconstruction experts.

Personal Injury

Whenever you are physically injured by another person, the laws of Louisiana allow you to sue the other party and recover your damages. These damages can include medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of income potential, and the psychological trauma/pain and suffering, resulting from the physical damages.

Personal injury includes such items as damages for physical abuse by a partner, parent, child, or any person who causes physical injury. It also includes damages resulting from sexual abuse, or any crime committed against the injured party. There are not many attorneys who will pursue damages against an injured party, when insurance may not be available.

Criminal Matters: Felonies & Misdemeanors

Richard Mere worked as an Indigent Defender for 6 years in the 15th Judicial District Court system. His work as an Indigent Defender included handling hundreds of cases, per year, in both misdemeanor and felony tracks. He has also handed numerous matters in City Court, and in other parishes, in his private capacity. These matters have included drug possession offenses, drug distribution offenses, domestic violence, assault and battery, theft, burglary, DWI’s, and other traffic offenses.

Protective Orders

From 2003-2006, Richard Mere was the primary trainer of attorneys for Protective Orders for the Lafayette Parish Bar Association. He has participated in hundreds of Protective Order Hearings, both in representing the needs of truly abused persons, and in defending those improperly accused of abusing their partners and/or children.

There are several laws protecting spouses and children from physical and sexual abuse, including Protective Orders under Title 46, Protective Orders for parties getting a divorce, the Post-Separation Family Violence Relief Act, and statutes under the Children’s Code, and the Louisiana Civil Code. These laws, as written by the legislature, are very powerful, and offer a great deal of protection for abused persons. Some of these laws protect children from parents, parents from  children, dating partners, persons who live together, household members, and dating partners. However, the proper combination of these laws, and who they apply to, is sometimes complex.

Often, the person who has suffered abuse, is confused about which one of these laws apply, because they are often filled out by the injured party, who may not understand all of the consequences of filing a Protective Order. In many of these cases, what the injured party is seeking, and what is actually requested, are different. For the protection of the abused party, and the protection of a person alleged to have committed abuse, a qualified attorney needs to review the documents, and help both sides in creating a remedy that will protect them both.

Additionally, the truly abused person does not feel that they can follow through because they lack representation. Richard Mere has helped people in both of the above situations. Sometimes a person seeking protection needs help properly presenting their case. Sometimes the individual wrongfully accused needs to prevent the wrongful issuance of Protective Orders, when no abuse has taken place.

 

Spousal Abuse

Spousal abuse is a catch all term for the problem of one spouse harming the other. There are multiple remedies, which may be available when you are suffering from spousal abuse, including divorce, protective orders, the Post-Separation Family Violence Relief Act, and criminal penalties for the abuser. The term abuse, under the protective order statutes, divorce, and Post-Separation Family Violence Relief Act, may be defined in slightly different ways. In general, abuse is a criminal act, which may be as serious as attempted murder, down through stalking, and in some cases, cyber bullying. This is done between two persons in either a romantic relationship or a marriage.

The exact remedies that fit the particular kind of abuse the spouse is suffering from can be complicated, and are often overlapping. The same action which resulted in a domestic abuse battery charge against a spouse or romantic partner, can also lead to a protective order against that person, and be grounds for a divorce. The specifics of the act, the context where it occurred, whether the parties children were present or not, and the severity of the abuse all are factors, which must be considered in arriving at the proper combinations of legal actions to seek every bit of relief the battered spouse is entitled to.

Adoptions

There are multiple kinds of adoptions handled by our office. This includes private adoptions, which are people who adopt a child to whom they are not biologically related. Intrafamily adoptions, which are those adoptions which are done by family members, including current spouses and grandparents. Another form of adoption, the agency adoption, may also be available, but that is not done by our office, and is usually done by Catholic services or several other private adoption agencies, who do business in the State of Louisiana.

The different types of adoptions all have different requirements, both for the parties seeking the adoption, and the termination of parental rights of the persons giving a child up for adoption. Adopting a child is a very serious matter in that it creates in the  person adopting the obligation of parent, and the adoptee the obligations that a child has to the parent. It should not be entered into lightly, or without careful consideration. On the other hand, it is one of the most beautiful gifts that an adult can give to a child, to adopt that child and give them a  new parent.

Interdictions

When an adult is no longer able to take care of their affairs, either their financial affairs, or their physical well being, an interdiction may be appropriate. The interdiction process attempts to find the least restrictive way to protect an adult from their own actions, either financial mismanagement or physical danger, through their inability to take care of themselves. A person, called a curator, agrees to take care of the interdicted person, and becomes responsible for the interdicted persons actions in specific ways granted by the judgment of interdiction. The curator is often either a child or a spouse of the interdicted person, but it can be any individual who is willing to take on the responsibility of physically and financially caring for, and being responsible for another adult.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Even though Louisiana is a community property state, where everything acquired during the marriage, both assets and debts, are split equally between the parties, there is a way to opt out of the community property system. The easiest and most effective method of preventing a community property regime from ever existing a Pre-Nuptial Agreement. In the Pre-Nuptial Agreement, the parties agree as to what items of property they are willing to share between them, which items of property will remain the sole property of one of the spouses, and also decides the ownership of any property purchased during the time of the marriage. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is often useful when the parties have pre-existing children, one or both of the parties already has considerable wealth, one or both of the parties has significant pre-existing debt, or the parties run a separate business, and do not want to insulate their spouse from business decisions they may have to make.

 

Attorney Profile

Richard D. Mere

Attorney at Law

Providing reasonable and effective legal services in the following areas; divorces, custody and visitation, child support, community property, misdemeanor and felony criminal matters, domestic abuse, wills, powers of attorney, adoptions, pre and post-nuptial agreements, restraining orders. Richard Mere has practiced law since 1993, and has been a sole practitioner, based in Lafayette Parish since 1996.

Areas Of Practice

Child Support
Community Property
Custody/Visitation
Divorce
Interdiction
Name Change
Pre-Nuptial Agreements
Restraining Orders
Spousal Abuse
Spousal Support
Adoptions
Admiralty & Maritime – Jones Act
Auto Accidents
Personal Injury
Wrongful Death
Criminal Matters
Felonies
Misdemeanors
DWI’s

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