The spouse filing for divorce must have been a resident of Louisiana for 12 months prior to filing for divorce. The divorce must be filed in the parish of the respondent/defendant, made in writing, signed by the party making it, and registered by the Recorder.
Legal Grounds for Divorce
No Fault Divorce:
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.
General Divorce Or Fault Based Grounds:
In the case of a covenant marriage:
- That the spouses have been living separate and apart for a period of 2 years or more on the date of filing the petition.
- That the other spouse has committed adultery.
- That the other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment with hard labor.
- Physical or sexual abuse of a spouse or child.
- Abandonment for 1 year or more.
- Living separate and apart for 1 year or more after a legal separation.
Legal Separation in Louisiana:
The grounds for legal separation (separation from bed and board) in Louisiana are the same as those for divorce from a covenant marriage (with the addition of habitual drunkeness). However, a spouse may petition the court for spousal and/or child support and restitution of separate property during a marriage. This is intended to provide for those spouses who desire to live apart, but not divorce.
Covenant Marriage Separation:
In a Covenant marriage, separation is called “separation from bed and board” in and puts an end to the couple’s conjugal cohabitation, and to the common concerns, which existed between them.
Spouses who are judicially separated from bed and board in a covenant marriage shall retain that status until either reconciliation or divorce.
In a proceeding for a separation from bed and board in a covenant marriage, a court may award a spouse all incidental relief afforded in a proceeding for divorce, including spousal support, claims for contributions to education, child custody, visitation rights, child support, injunctive relief and possession and use of a family residence or community movables or immovables.
Grounds for Separation from Bed and Board:
The grounds for Separation from Bed and Board are nearly identical to those for Divorce, with the exception of the last ground. Apart from any other law to the contrary, and subsequent to the parties obtaining counseling, a spouse to a covenant marriage may obtain a judgment of separation from bed and board only upon proof of any of the following:
- The other spouse has committed adultery.
- The other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor.
- The other spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for a period of one year and constantly refuses to return.
- The other spouse has physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses.
- The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for a period of two years.
- On account of habitual intemperance of the other spouse, or excesses, cruel treatment, or outrages of the other spouse, if the habitual intemperance or ill-treatment is of such a nature that it renders their living together insupportable.
Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Louisiana:
The new no-fault divorce grounds in Louisiana are very simplified. No answer need be made by a respondent to a Petition for Divorce filed in Louisiana. In order to obtain a final Judgment of Divorce, a motion entitled “Rule to Show Cause” must be filed with the court. However, each judicial district in Louisiana may have specific individual rules pertaining to divorce actions.
Alimony/Spousal Support in Louisiana:
During the divorce proceeding, either spouse may be ordered to pay temporary alimony. Permanent periodic alimony may be granted to the spouse who is without fault. Since Louisiana has Covenant Marriage, this means a spouse can be found to have fault and due to that would lose rights to an award of alimony. Such alimony shall not exceed one-third of the other spouse’s income. The factors considered are
- The effect of child custody on the spouse’s earning capacity.
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment.
- The income, means, and assets of the spouses and the liquidity of the assets.
- The comparative financial obligations of the spouses.
- The age and health of the spouses.
- The needs of the parties.
- The earning capacity of the parties.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The tax consequences of the parties.
- Any other relevant circumstances.
Permanent alimony may be revoked upon remarriage or cohabitation.
Child Custody in Louisiana:
Joint or sole custody is awarded based on the best interests of the child. The following order of preference is established:
- To both parents.
- To either parent [without regard to race or sex of the parents].
- To the person or persons with whom the child has been living.
- To any other person that the court feels suitable and able to provide an adequate and stable environment for the child.
Unless shown otherwise or unless the parents agree otherwise, joint custody is presumed to be in the best interests of the child and will be awarded based on the following factors:
- Physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child.
- Capability and desire of each parent to meet the child’s needs.
- Preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity.
- The love and affection existing between the child and each parent.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving frequent relationship between the child and the other parent.
- The wishes of the parents.
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community.
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
- The permanence as a family unit of the existing or proposed custodial home.
- The distance between the potential residences.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- Any other relevant factor. The conduct of the proposed guardian is to be considered only as it bears on his or her relationship with the child.
The parents must submit a plan for joint custody which designates:
- The child’s residence.
- The rights of access and communication between the parents and child.
- Child support amounts.
A parent not granted custody is entitled to visitation rights unless that parent has subjected the child to physical or sexual abuse. The court may order the parents to attend a court-approved parenting seminar.
Child Support in Louisiana:
Both parents are obligated to support any children of a marriage. The factors for consideration listed in the statute are:
- The needs of the child.
- The actual resources of each parent.
In addition, Louisiana has adopted detailed Child Support Guideline provisions which are contained in the statute. These guidelines are presumed to be correct, unless 1 of the following factors make the guidelines unjust or not in the best interests of the child:
- Extraordinary medical expenses of the child or parent responsible for support payments.
- The permanent or temporary total disability of the parent responsible for support.
- The need for immediate or temporary support.
- An extraordinary community debt of the parents.
- That the combined income of the parents is less than that in the guideline charts.
- Any other relevant consideration.
Louisiana is a “community property” state. A spouse’s separate property, consisting of property acquired prior to the marriage and property acquired by gift or inheritance, is awarded to that spouse. The community property or property acquired during the marriage is divided equally between the spouses.
Personal property necessary for the safety and well-being of the spouse filing for divorce and any children in his or her custody (including food, eating utensils, clothing, and any other items necessary for their safety and well-being) will be awarded to the spouse filing.
Either spouse may ask the court for use and occupancy of the family residence pending the final division of the community property. The court bases the temporary award of the family residence on the following factors:
- The value of each spouse’s personal property.
- The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective.
- Needs of the children. In addition, a spouse may be awarded a sum of money for his or her financial contributions made during a marriage to the education or training of a spouse that increased the other spouse’s earning capacity.
Separate property of a spouse is his/hers exclusively. It may include:
- Property acquired by a spouse prior to the establishment of a community property regime.
- Property acquired by a spouse with separate things or with separate and community things when the value of the community things is inconsequential in comparison with the value of the separate things used.
- Property acquired by a spouse by inheritance or donation to him/her individually.
- Damages awarded to a spouse in an action for breach of contract against the other spouse or for the loss sustained as a result of fraud or bad faith in the management of community property by the other spouse.
- Damages or other indemnity awarded to a spouse in connection with the management of his/her separate property.
- Things acquired by a spouse as a result of a voluntary partition of the community during the existence of a community property regime.
Disclaimer: The divorce law information provided is for informational purposes only not for legal advice purposes. This information is general in nature. Each jurisdiction has specific code and court procedures. A local divorce attorney is your best source for how divorce is treated in your jurisdiction. Before making any legal decisions we encourage you to consult with a local attorney…do not make decisions based on general state divorce law.