Louisiana divorces aren’t going away anytime soon
Divorce is an issue all too common to families here in Louisiana. Census data says Louisiana holds the fourth-highest divorce rate in the country — 20.8 divorcees per 1000 married people to be exact.
That number has only increased year after year. While no one ever plans for a divorce after they say “I do”, the sad matter of fact is it can happen to you without warning. The emotional devastation which follows a divorce is something no one should do alone, so knowing a good family law attorney here New Orleans and Metairie can be a starting point for the next steps to take.
What are grounds for divorce in Louisiana?
There are a number of criteria which constitute a divorce in the state of Louisiana. The key criteria which most couples worry about are fault and separation. These two can work in conjunction or separately when deciding the grounds for divorce in Louisiana.
Residents in Metairie and New Orleans would only need to meet one of these criteria when looking for grounds for divorce:
Louisiana legal separation checklist:
- 180 days apart with no minor children
- 365 days apart with minor children from the marriage
Louisiana “at-fault” divorce grounds checklist:
- Felony Conviction
- Physical and/or sexual abuse
Keep in mind, the state of Louisiana says you do not need grounds to file for a divorce. If there has been separation which meets the above criteria, then a couple can simply divorce without any uncomfortable time spent in court.
Louisiana Divorce Residency Requirements
In order for anyone to file a divorce in the state of Louisiana, they must meet the following criteria:
- Must be a Louisiana resident for at least one year
- A petition must be filed in the parish of residency
Outside of that, there aren’t many restrictions on residency in terms of a Louisiana divorce. The state will allow someone not currently living in Louisiana to file for divorce so long as they maintained residency with an authentic address.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Louisiana?
This all depends on your grounds for divorce or the length of time you and your partner have been separated. In the case of legal separation, 180 days or six months is the key number most couples need to meet when no children are involved. However, if children are involved this process can take up to a year if not more for the grounds of separation to take hold.
In a fault-based divorce where there has been no extended period of separation, this process can require up to two years of separation before a final decree can be issued. A New Orleans family law attorney can help you navigate these exact specifics on time and process if there is no other option left in your marriage.
What is a covenant marriage and how does it affect divorce?
Louisiana is one of only three states in the union who legally recognize a covenant marriage. First legalized in 1997, a covenant marriage is one where both parties agree to more limited grounds when seeking a divorce in addition to attending mandatory marriage counseling before tying the knot.
Couples seeking a divorce in a covenant marriage will have to attend counseling before having to prove one of the criteria in an “at-fault” divorce. Furthermore, as opposed to the standard 180 days for a legal separation in standard marriage cases — a covenant married couple must be separated for 365 days continuously. This increases to 545 days (a year and six months) if there are minor children involved.
Annulment vs. divorce in the state of Louisiana
When a New Orleans or Metairie couple files for an annulment, it means the marriage was never valid in the first place. While this is far less common among Louisiana couples, it’s important to know what can make a marriage null:
- Bigamy – One spouse was already married
- Incest – The spouses are related as first cousins or closer
- Coercion – One spouse was forced into marriage against their will
- Minority – One spouse was underage at the time of the marriage
- One spouse was mentally unfit during the ceremony
- One spouse was intoxicated during the ceremony
- One spouse did not attend the marriage ceremony
- There was never a proper marriage ceremony
If you believe your marriage is null, a New Orleans family law attorney can help you walk through the steps for obtaining a petition in your parish of residence. If an attorney can help prove to a judge your marriage was never legal, you can still seek the benefits of alimony, property share and child support just like a regular divorce.
How property is divided in a Louisiana divorce
In Louisiana marital “community” property is supposed to be divided up evenly unless specified by a pre/postnuptial agreement. “Community” property is the assets owned together by the couple during the marriage. Assets owned before the marriage are considered “separate” property and are not eligible to be split between the pair.
Things which can be considered community property by the state of Louisiana are:
- Retirement funds
- Life Insurance policies
- Family home
- Family business
Nothing is cut-and-dry when it comes to dividing assets in a divorce. Some assets can be “partial” community or “partial” separate depending on how long one spouse has been in control of a particular asset. A New Orleans family law attorney can be incredibly helpful in hashing out a fair property split in a divorce settlement.
Know your rights in a Louisiana Divorce
A proceeding as complicated as a divorce here in New Orleans and Metairie is something no one should have to go through by themselves. Between hashing out separations times, property division and child custody, one person can only do so much.
New Orleans family law attorney Candice Bennatt is not only a knowledgeable litigator of all things Louisiana divorce law but a comforting presence in times of uncertainty. Call 504-777-3500 today for a free consultation so you aren’t alone in these tough times.