Divorce is on the rise nationwide, and Louisiana is near the top when it comes to divorce rates. According to data released by 24/7 Wall Street, Louisiana had an average 20.8 divorces per 1,000 married people in 2016. Stressors like low median household incomes and high unemployment rates are believed to contribute to the higher ratio.
Louisiana allows for both no-fault and at-fault divorces. When you file for an “at-fault” divorce, it means that you are claiming that your spouse was responsible for the demise of the marriage. This is important because only the spouse who is deemed to not be responsible for the marriage breaking up can receive alimony.
There are several main grounds that Louisiana recognizes when it comes to divorce. These are adultery, conviction of a felony, physical and/or sexual abuse, abandonment, or living apart. Living apart would fall under the no-fault divorce category, while abuse, abandonment, adultery, and a felony conviction are at-fault conditions.
If you opt for an at-fault divorce due to a felony conviction, you must prove your spouse has been convicted of a felony and received a sentence with hard labor or was sentenced to death. If you are alleging adultery, you need to be the one who proves there was adultery. It’s necessary to have corroborative testimony providing evidence that a spouse cheated.
The state only allows a no-fault divorce if the spouses have lived apart for at least 180 days if there are no minor children, or 365 days if there are minor children from the marriage.
Louisiana is one of the states that allows for a special type of marriage, known as a covenant marriage. This is where spouses agree to particular covenants, like the requirement to participate in marital counseling should there be difficulties. In the event the marriage cannot be saved, there are only limited grounds acceptable for divorce. If counseling doesn’t work, then the couple can only seek a divorce after proving one of the following: abandonment for one year, sexual or physical abuse, adultery, or a felony conviction. In addition, a covenant marriage requires the spouses to be apart for 365 days, and will increase the requirement to 545 days if there are any minor children.
Annulment Versus Divorce
When you file for an annulment, you are declaring that the marriage was never valid. There are only certain criteria where an annulment will be granted. These include:
- If spouses are related as first cousins or closer
- One of the parties was already married
- One party forced the other into getting married against his or her will
- One spouse was not mentally fit when the ceremony took place
- There was never a proper marriage ceremony
- One party was not of legal age when getting married
- One spouse was drunk or intoxicated during the marriage ceremony
- One spouse was missing from the marriage ceremony
Retaining a New Orleans Family Law Attorney
If you are preparing to file for divorce or have questions on whether you qualify for an annulment, it’s important to retain a New Orleans divorce attorney who can advise you on the best course of action. Contact the office of Candice Bennatt Law today to schedule a consultation.
Candice Bennatt is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Metairie, Louisiana. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.