Divorce in Louisiana
Residency and Filing Needs
There are some aspects of divorce in Louisiana that you need to know about before proceeding with anything. First off, if one spouse intends to file, that spouse will then be called the ‘Petitioner’ or ‘Plaintiff.’ The other spouse will be called the ‘Respondent’ or ‘Defendant’ in the matter.
Once divorce is eminent, there’s one requirement in the state of Louisiana that needs to be met before filing.
• The Petitioner must be a Louisiana resident for at least 12 months prior to filing for divorce, and proceedings may occur either in the Petitioner’s parish or the Responder’s parish.
Reasons for Divorce in Louisiana
There are many reasons for it, but for the most part the court separates all reasons into two categories:
• No-Fault Divorce
• Fault Divorce
“No-Fault” basically can mean one thing –
1) Both Parties Must Have Been Living Separately for at Least 180 Consecutive Days
“Fault” divorce in Louisiana, however, is an entirely different situation.
Grounds for that divorce can include one or more of these as determined by a court of law:
• Felony Conviction
• Respondent’s Willful Abandonment for at Least One Year
• Both Parties Have Been Living Separately For at Least Two Years
• From the Date Signed of Legal Separation, Both Parties Must Have Been Living Separately for at Least One Year
• Physical or Sexual Abuse Upon the Petitioner or Child(ren)
Both “No-Fault” and “Fault” divorce have separate stipulations that can affect custody, child support, and spousal support.
The Definition of “Legal Separation” Versus “Divorce”
Of course, both parties to a marriage may elect to “legally separate” instead of proceed through a divorce. What’s the difference?
A legal separation is essentially both parties agreeing to go their separate ways without dissolving the marriage. There are many reasons for doing this, one being the need to retain certain benefits within the marriage agreement that would otherwise be discontinued upon a divorce. For instance: medical insurance.
Typically, though, a legal separation does lead to a divorce agreement, in which case all grounds for divorce move forward, as well as the marriage then becomes dissolved in a court of law along with any other benefits and assets, questions of child custody, parenting time, and support (if children are in fact present).
The Primary Documents For a Divorce in Louisiana
Ten or twenty documents may be included in the proceeding, not limited to these:
• Marital Settlement Agreement
• Financial Affidavit
• Request for Hearing
• Notice of Hearing
• Petition for Divorce
• And Final Judgment of Divorce
Divorce in Louisiana : Property Distribution
When it comes to divorce in Louisiana, it’s important to know that the state favors “community property” standards. This simply means that all assets acquired during the marriage are divided equally among both parties.
Typically the court will encourage both the Petitioner and Respondent to come to an agreement about property distribution. If there’s no agreement, the court will decide.
In addition, the court may also award the wife her former or maiden name upon agreement of the divorce.
Divorce in Louisiana : On the Subject of Spousal Support
This issue may only be relevant if the court or both parties see a need for either party to support the other financially for any reason either on a temporary or permanent basis.
Divorce in Louisiana : Dealing With Child Custody
Generally speaking, parents can come to an agreement on this matter regarding divorce in Louisiana in several ways:
• Joint Physical Custody
• Sole Physical Custody
• Joint Legal Custody
• Sole Physical Custody
“Joint Physical Custody” is essentially sharing custody of the child(ren) in terms of where the child(ren) may live: either in mother’s residence, or father’s residence. Child(ren) retains two addresses. Both parties are equally responsible for the well-being of the child(ren) as well as for the education of the child(ren).
“Sole Physical Custody” is when one party retains physical custody of child(ren) and the other party retains “Visitation Rights.”
“Joint Legal Custody” is when both parents share the right to make important decisions in the life/lives of the child(ren), which may include legal name, lifestyle, needs, etc. etc.
“Sole Legal Custody” is when only one parent retains the right to make important decisions in the life/lives of the child(ren).
Divorce in Louisiana : How to Determine Child Support If Necessary
Typically, the non-custodial parent pays child support. The Income Shares Model is employed to determine the amount. By combining W2’s and other worksheets, an amount is determined that would best suit the needs of the child(ren) without unfavorable financial problems on the non-custodial party.
Generally speaking, both parties may agree to an amount. But in the event that a Petitioner and Respondent don’t, the court may utilize state support guidelines to arrive to a decision as to how much support is necessary for the child(ren).