If you are contemplating divorce in Louisiana, it’s important to know how the process works. Perhaps you were married in a different state and are now living in Louisiana. In order to qualify for a divorce in the state, you must have been a resident of Louisiana for at least a year. In addition, you must follow all other procedures and requirements.
The state requires that couples who want to get divorced must live separately for at least 180 days prior to filing for divorce, provided there are no children from the marriage. If the couple has children, you must live apart for at least 365 days. There are some situations where you may be able to get divorced sooner.
Is Louisiana an At-Fault or No-Fault Divorce State?
You do not need necessarily need “at-fault” grounds for a divorce in Louisiana. You can file for divorce if you have been living apart and separate for the required timeframe. If you are filing for divorce based on adultery, a felony conviction, or domestic violence, you may be eligible to file earlier.
Requirements for Covenant Marriages
If you are in a covenant marriage, you must seek counseling prior to filing for divorce. Covenant marriages are recognized in Louisiana and are slightly different than a traditional marriage. People in covenant marriages agree to attend premarital counseling before getting married and during the marriage if issues arise.
Where to File
When you are ready to file for divorce, you are required to file in the state district court for the parish where:
- You or your spouse resides, called domicile or legal residence; or
- You and your spouse last lived together, which is known the last matrimonial domicile.
Is Spousal Support Available in Louisiana?
There are two main types of spousal support in Louisiana. One is called “interim” spousal support, which is awarded based on needs, the standard of living you enjoyed during the marriage, and your ex’s ability to pay. This type of support will end after the divorce, usually when the final support judgment is issued or 180 days after the divorce is finalized, whichever comes first.
A final support order is only available to someone who was “free from fault” prior to the filing for the divorce. Courts will review your individual needs, means, earning capacity, health, income, how long you were married, and other related factors.
Property Distribution in a Divorce
Louisiana is one of a handful of states that treats marital assets as community property. This means everything you acquired during the marriage would be split 50/50. Marital assets can include buildings, land, personal belongings, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, and more. In addition, debts are community property and are split 50/50 as well.
Any property you acquired prior to the marriage is considered to be separate property. Separate property can also include an inheritance or a personal cause of action. These items will remain your property or your spouse’s. The only time it might be deemed community property is when separate property is co-mingled with community property or when the separate property gains value from the use of community property.
Retaining a Louisiana Divorce Attorney
Even a divorce based on “no-fault” grounds can be complex, especially if you have children or a lot of assets. You need to speak to a skilled Louisiana divorce attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Contact Candice Bennatt Law at 504-777-3500 to schedule a consultation.
Candice Bennatt is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Metairie, Louisiana. She graduated from Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing law for six years. Lauren Taylor believes in solving family law issues. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.