Louisiana Legal Separation Papers & Divorce Information and FAQ

In addition to a No-Fault ground, there are three accepted grounds for divorce in Louisiana:

(1) The spouses have been living separate and apart for a period of 6 months or longer; (2) Adultery; (3) Spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment with hard labor.

A "No-Fault" divorce may be had if one spouse desires a divorce. 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.

Venue An action for divorce can be filed in the parish where either party is domiciled, or in the parish where the spouses last lived together.

Spousal Support In Louisiana, there are two types of Spousal Support (sometimes called "Alimony"). (1) Temporary Support: Awarded to a spouse who does not have sufficient income for his or her maintenance pending the divorce. The most important factor considered by the court is the standard of living which existed during the marriage.

(2) Post-Divorce Spousal Support (a.k.a. "Permanent Alimony"): Post-Divorce Spousal Support is designed to provide the needy ex-spouse with the basic necessities of life. Post-Divorce Spousal Support can be awarded to an ex-spouse who is found to be free from fault in the breakdown of the marriage and does not have sufficient means for his or her own support.

The fault of the paying party is not relevant to the issue of spousal support. However, the receiving spouse must show that he or she is not at fault. There are no hard statutory rules defining "fault" for purposes of spousal support-- the determination is left to the court, based on the authority of previous cases and some guidance from the civil code.

Other spousal support matters The amount of temporary spousal support is based on the standard of living maintained before the divorce. The amount of post-divorce spousal support is based on the needy party's requirements and the payor's ability to pay. Temporary spousal support ends when the marriage is officially disolved. Post-Divorce spousal support ends when the receiving party remarries, dies, no longer needs the money for basic necessities (ie- has enough income to cover these), or lives with another person openly as if they were married. The parties could also agree to a "lump sum" payment, which would end when the lump sum is paid off, whether paid all at once or in installments over time, depending on the specifics of the agreement.

Child Support Louisiana has guidelines for determining the amount of support that should be provided for one or more children. The parent who does not have custody of the child will usually be required to contribute to the support of any minor children. Parents often agree on the amount of child support. If the parents cannot agree, the court will use the guidelines in determining the amount. A table containing the relevant amounts is included wiht your USLF divorce (with children) package. The guidelines take into account expenses of the child and the paying parent's income. Items like private school or day care are decided on a individualized basis.

Child Custody Parents often agree on child custody. If child custody is an issue, a contested divorce will result (contested divorces are outside the scope of the USLF divore package). You and your spouse should try to decide the custody arrangements for the children and what the visitation schedule should be without the help of the court. If the parents cannot agree, the court will decide on custody and visitation. The court will consider the following factors when making decisons about child custody:

1. The relationship between each parent and the children. 2. The care or concern undertaken by each parent. 3. The current residence of the children and the overall effect of changing the residence. 4. The amount of time each parent can spend with the children. 5. The emotional and financial stability of each parent. 6. How each parent treats the other. 7. The expressed desires of the children (though the child is not allowed to decide, the court makes the final decision).

Each case is unique, the court will make the ultimate decision in view of the "best interest of the child".

Division of Property The general rule in Louisiana is that everything acquired by the spouses during the marriage is owned by them equally. "Community property" is that which is acquired during the marriage through the effort, skill or industry of either spouse, property donated to the spouses jointly and other property not classified as "separate." "Separate property" is property owned before marriage, individual gifts during marriage and inherited property. Separate property is usually not divisable. If the parties cannot agree on the division of the property, the court wiull divide the property as equitably as possible. Though the conduct of the parties can effect the granting of divorce and custody, the conduct of the parties has NO EFFECT on property division (unless there are unusual circumstances).

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