Louisiana Divorce Laws
The state of Louisiana has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Louisiana addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Louisiana divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Louisiana online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Louisiana, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
The filing spouse must be a resident for at least 12 months prior to filing. The divorce shall be filed in the parish in which either spouse resides.
Except in the case of a covenant marriage, a divorce shall be granted upon motion of a spouse when either spouse has filed a petition for divorce and upon proof that one hundred eighty days have elapsed from the service of the petition.
The Dissolution of Marriage is typically filed with in parish in which the filing spouse lives. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Article: 42)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Louisiana the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
That a spouse desires a divorce is a grounds for divorce in Louisiana. There are no requirements to show marital breakdown, fault, living separate and apart, or any other basis for a divorce. After the filing of the petition, the divorce will be granted after a period of 180 days has elapsed from the filing date and if the spouses have lived separate and apart since the filing of the divorce petition. Reconciliation is essentially the only defense to a divorce sought on these grounds. [Louisiana Civil Code Annotated; Title V, Article 102].
General: A spouse to a covenant marriage may obtain a judgment of divorce only upon proof of any of the following: (1) The other spouse has committed adultery. (2) The other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor. (3) The other spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for a period of one year and constantly refuses to return. (4) The other spouse has physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses. (5) The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for a period of two years. (6) The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for a period of one year from the date the judgment of separation from bed and board was signed. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Article: 103)
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner or Plaintiff. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Petition for Divorce with the parish court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent or Defendant. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: __________ Judicial District Court, Parish of _________, Louisiana. All divorce cases in the state of Louisiana are facilitated through this court for that particular parish.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Louisiana clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: District Clerk's Office.
Property and Debt Division: Louisiana is considered a "community property" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the community property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is community. Second, it will put a value on the community property. Third, it will divide the community property in an equal fashion.
Being a community property state, all separate property like gifts, inheritances, and property owned prior to the marriage will remain with each spouse and then all other property will be split equally. The court will take to consider the needs of each spouse when determining how the property is to be split and each spouse has the right to ask the court to be awarded the marital home. When deciding who should be awarded the marital home, the spouse who will have custody of the children is typically the court favorite. When making this decision regarding the marital home, the court will consider the following factors: the value of the spouse's property, the economic needs and circumstances of each spouse; the needs of the children; and also the court will consider on a case-by-case the contributions each spouse made to the acquisition of the community property s well as future earning potential. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Article: 121)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
The court will consider all relevant factors in determining the entitlement, amount, and duration of spousal support. These factors may include: (A) The needs of the parties. (B) The income and means of the parties, including the liquidity of such means. (C) The financial obligations of the parties. (D) The earning capacity of the parties. (E) The effect of custody of children upon a party's earning capacity. (F) The time necessary for the claimant to acquire appropriate education, training, or employment. (G) The health and age of the parties. (H) The duration of the marriage. (I) The tax consequences to either or both parties.
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Louisiana courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
When determining a custody award, the court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of the child. Such factors may include: (A) The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child. (B) 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. (C) The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs. (D) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment. (E) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes. (F) The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child. (G) The mental and physical health of each party. (H) The home, school, and community history of the child. (I) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference. (J) The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party. (K) The distance between the respective residences of the parties. (L) The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Article: 131, 132, 133, 134)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Louisiana child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
Each parent has a responsibility to support a child. If the parents cannot agree, the court will apply the state child support guideline provisions to calculate the appropriate support obligation to be paid. At the courts discretion, it may deviate from the guidelines, by considering the following factors: (A) That the combined adjusted gross income of the parties is not within the amounts shown on the worksheet schedule. (1) If the combined adjusted gross income of the parties is less than the lowest sum shown on the schedule, the court shall determine an amount of child support based on the facts of the case, except that the amount awarded shall not be less than the minimum child support allowed. (2) If the combined adjusted gross income of the parties exceeds the highest sum shown on the schedule, the court shall determine an amount of child support deemed to be appropriate. (B) The legal obligation of a party to support dependents who are not the subject of the action before the court and who are in that party's household. (C) That in a case involving one or more families, consisting of children none of whom live in the household of the noncustodial or nondomiciliary parent but who have existing child support orders. (D) The extraordinary medical expenses of a party, or extraordinary medical expenses for which a party may be responsible, not otherwise taken into consideration under the guidelines. (E) An extraordinary community debt of the parties. (F) The need for immediate and temporary support for a child when a full hearing on the issue of support is pending but cannot be timely held. (G) The permanent or temporary total disability of a spouse to the extent such disability diminishes his present and future earning capacity. (H) Any other consideration which would make application of the guidelines not in the best interest of the child or children or inequitable to the parties. (Louisiana Revised Statutes - Article 9 - Sections: 302)
Copyright Notice: These Louisiana divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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