The Different Types of Divorce in Louisiana
By Mary Jane Freeman
Choosing to divorce your spouse is never an easy decision. But knowing how to navigate the process will help ease stress and make the transition from married to single life more manageable. In Louisiana, you have the option of filing for divorce on either no-fault or fault grounds. You may seek a divorce in the state if either you or your spouse have been living there for at least six months. If you entered into a covenant marriage in Louisiana, a few additional steps may be required to complete your divorce.
Grounds for Divorce
Louisiana recognizes three grounds for divorce: living separate and apart, adultery or conviction of a felony. No-fault divorce in Louisiana falls under the category of living separate and apart. In this case, neither spouse is required to prove marital fault or wrongdoing on the part of the other to obtain a divorce. The parties simply must demonstrate that they have been living separate and apart for 180 days if there are no children of the marriage, or 365 days if there are children. The court may reduce the length requirement for living apart if there is evidence of abuse. If you don't file for divorce on no-fault grounds, the only other way to obtain a divorce in the state is to file under the fault grounds of adultery or felony conviction.
If you've chosen to file a fault-based divorce, you must prove that your spouse has either committed adultery or has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to death or imprisonment with hard labor. There is no waiting period with fault-based divorce. Upon proving your cited grounds, divorce is immediate. In the case of adultery, the spouse alleging sexual misconduct has the burden of proving it. Louisiana requires corroborative testimony of the affair, evidence proving the other spouse cheated. In the case of a felony conviction, proof of the spouse's conviction and sentence is sufficient.
Louisiana recognizes a special form of marriage known as a covenant marriage. In a covenant marriage, spouses agree to certain covenants, namely to participate in marital counseling if marital difficulties arise and to accept limited grounds for divorce it the marriage can't be saved. To end a covenant marriage, couples must first demonstrate an attempt to save the marriage by attending marital counseling. If counseling is unsuccessful, the couple may obtain a divorce only upon proving one of the following grounds: adultery, felony conviction, abandonment for one year, physical or sexual abuse, or the parties have lived separate and apart for two years or for one year from the date of official judgment of separation from bed and board.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Regardless of the type of marriage you have or which grounds for divorce you choose, the process of divorcing your spouse is greatly simplified when the divorce is uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses agree on key issues, such as property division, child custody and support, and alimony. When couples can't agree on these matters, the divorce is deemed contested. Typically, a divorce becomes final once all requirements have been met. For example, divorce is final at the end of the 180- or 365-day separation period in cases of no-fault divorce or immediately upon proving adultery or a felony conviction in a fault-based action. However, a divorce proceeding may extend past this time frame if the divorce is contested, becoming final only when all matters have been resolved by the court.
- Louisiana State Bar Association: Divorce: Who Gets Custody? Who Pays Support?
- Louisiana State Legislature: Civil Code Section 103
- Louisiana State Legislature: Civil Code Section 103.1
- Louisiana State Legislature: Civil Code Section 102
- Fort Polk Legal Assistance Information Papers: Divorce in Louisiana
- State of Louisiana Office of the Attorney General: Louisiana Laws on Community Property and Covenant Marriage
Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.