There may come a time in a marriage when spouses decide that they no longer want to be in the relationship. The couple may decide to divorce or legally separate from each other. A divorce ends a marriage, whereas a legal separation allows spouse to live separate lives with ending the marriage.

Louisiana law has two types of marriage. The traditional marriage contract, which allows for a couple divorce or separate without having to show fault by either spouse. The other form of marriage is a covenant marriage. A covenant marriage is a marriage in which a couple agrees to get marital counseling before they marry and agree to limit the reasons they can get a divorce or legal separation. If a couple enters has covenant marriage they must get marital counseling before they can file for divorce.

If you are in a traditional marriage contract, you cannot file for divorce until you and your spouse live separate and apart for:

  • 180 days, if there are no minor children of the marriage; or
  • 365 days, if there are minor children of marriage at the time you file.

For covenant marriages, spouses cannot file for divorce until they live separate and apart for:

  • two years, if there are no minor children of the marriage; or
  • one year and six months, if there are minor children of marriage at the time you file.

What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?

You must file a Petition for Divorce with Clerk of Court of the family court of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, which handles all divorce cases in Louisiana. The spouse who files must be a resident of the state for at least 12 months before he files.  The filing spouse also must file the petition in the county where either spouse resides.

You do not need to notify your spouse before you file for divorce; however, you must give your spouse notice once your file with the court. You can serve your spouse with notice in one of two ways:

  • Request service by the Sheriff’s office; or
  • Have your spouse sign a waiver of service.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Louisiana is a community property state. In a community property state, the law divides marital property equally between spouses in divorce or legal separation cases. Community property is any property that a married couple gets during the marriage. Separate property is any property that a spouse brings into the marriage or get during the marriage as a gift or inheritance. State law protects a spouse’s separate property by not including it in the marital property division during divorce or legal separation. A court only divides community property. 

What Should You Do If There are Children Involved?

During a divorce case, a judge determines child custody based on what is in the best interest of the minor child. Once the court decides the custody arrangement, a judge sets the child support order based on the needs of the child as well as the ability of each parent to support the child. The judge calculates the child support payments based on the state child support guidelines. 

Do You Need to Pay Alimony?

A judge can award alimony to a spouse who is:

  • In need of support; and
  • Free from fault prior to filing for divorce.

Once the court orders alimony, the support payments amount of the payments goes back to the date the petition for alimony. Some of the factors to determine alimony include:

  • The income and financial resources of both spouses;
  • The financial obligations of both spouses;
  • The ability to earn money for both spouses;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • And the health and age of both spouses;

Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?

If you are thinking of filing for divorce or are facing a divorce, then contact a Louisiana divorce lawyer today to help you with any of your divorce or legal separation concerns.