How to Get a Fast Divorce in Louisiana
By Mary Jane Freeman
Once you have made the decision to divorce your spouse, it's not unusual to want the process to end as soon as possible. Although it may be a challenge, getting a fast divorce in Louisiana is not impossible. The best way to do so is by filing for a no-fault divorce and working with your spouse to create a marital settlement agreement, in which all marital issues are resolved, such as division of property, child support and custody, and alimony. By doing so, you reduce the likelihood of delay and may get your divorce decree faster.
To file for no-fault divorce in Louisiana, you must live separate and apart from your spouse for 180 days. If you have minor children together, this period increases to 365 days, reduced to 180 days only in cases of abuse or protective order. You have the option of fulfilling the separation requirement either before you file for divorce or after. If you separate prior to filing, you may request a "103 divorce." In this case, the court will approve the divorce once you submit proof of being separated for 180 or 365 days. On the other hand, if you wait to separate until after you file for divorce, known as a "102 divorce," the court will not grant the divorce until 180 or 365 days have passed.
If waiting the proscribed separation period is not feasible, your only other option is to file for divorce on fault grounds. Unfortunately, Louisiana provides only two fault grounds: adultery and conviction of a felony (with a sentence of death or imprisonment with hard labor). Unless you can prove such misconduct on the part of your spouse, you will be unable to get a fault-based divorce. However, if you do so successfully, the court will grant your divorce immediately, without any requirement of separation.
Marital Settlement Agreement
To help ensure your divorce moves along as quickly as possible, negotiate a marital settlement agreement with your spouse. In this agreement, you and your spouse will outline how your marital property will be split; whether alimony will be paid, including the amount and duration; and if you have children, the custody arrangement and child support obligation. If the terms are satisfactory to the court, it will approve the agreement and incorporate it into the divorce decree. However, if you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on any issue, the divorce will be delayed as the court will have to resolve these matters for you.
Once you've satisfied the separation requirement and filed for a no-fault divorce, it may take the court a few more weeks to issue the divorce decree. Typically, you'll obtain your divorce 20 to 40 days after serving the divorce petition on your spouse or receiving your spouse's written waiver of service. Once you receive the divorce judgment, you or your spouse have 30 days to appeal the court's decision. You may not remarry during this time as your divorce is not considered final until this time period has elapsed.
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.