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Fault-Based Divorce in Louisiana

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

Differences Between Fault-Based and No-Fault Divorce

There are many differences between fault-based and no-fault divorces. Fault means the Court decides that one spouse's actions are the reason that the marriage did not work out. If you are considering filing a fault-based divorce, you should consult with an attorney. In general, the differences involve:

  • the facts that must be proven to get a judgment of divorce;

  • the law that applies to calculating child support and spousal support;

  • the time delay for obtaining a judgment of divorce; and

  • the law that applies to awarding use of community property pending partition.

Understanding the Grounds for a Fault-Based Divorce

Introduction to Fault-Based Divorce

When a spouse has committed adultery, certain acts of domestic violence, or has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor, the other spouse can seek a fault-based divorce under Louisiana Civil Code article 103, which provides for an immediate divorce when a spouse can prove: 

  • The other spouse has committed adultery.

  • The other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor.

  • During the marriage, the other spouse physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking divorce or a child of one of the spouses, regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted for the act of abuse.

  • After a contradictory hearing or consent decree, a protective order or an injunction was issued during the marriage against the other spouse to protect the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses from abuse.

Timing of a Fault-Based Divorce

The law considers fault-based divorces to be "immediate" divorces. In other words, filing a petition for divorce based on fault means that there is no statutory waiting period required before a court can issue a judgment of divorce.  This means a spouse may get a fault-based divorce more quickly than a no-fault divorce.

Certain Acts of Domestic Violence are Grounds for a Fault-Based Divorce

Two types of fault-based divorces relate to domestic violence during the marriage. A fault-based divorce can be granted when:

  • During the marriage, a spouse physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking divorce or a child of one of the spouses. In these cases, the spouse seeking divorce can win even if the other spouse was not prosecuted for the act of abuse.

  • A protective order or an injunction was issued during the marriage against a spouse to protect the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses from abuse. In these cases, the protective order must be issued after a contradictory hearing or consent decree. A temporary restraining order granted without a hearing does not apply.

Adultery

The Court can also grant a fault-based divorce when a spouse can prove the other spouse committed adultery.  For more information about proving adultery and forgiving a spouse for adultery, read these Frequently Asked Questions About Adultery

Felony Conviction and Sentence

When a spouse has been convicted of a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor, the other spouse can get a fault-based divorce. If your spouse is in prison as a result of a felony conviction and was sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor, you may be able to get a fault-based divorce.

Impact of Fault-Based Divorce on Spousal Support

Under Louisiana law, there are two types of spousal support: interim periodic support and final periodic support. Fault is relevant to final periodic support. Spouses seeking final periodic support must prove that they are free from fault. If a spouse is found to be at fault in causing the break-up of the marriage, they are not entitled to final periodic support.

Last Review and Update: Oct 29, 2021
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