Louisiana Divorce Process And Types

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
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About Louisiana Divorce Process And Types

This information covers the Louisiana divorce process and types of divorce including the two primary types of divorce; a 102 and 103 type divorce. 

Louisiana is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you don't need to prove any wrongdoing by your spouse. The marriage can be ended if the couple has lived separate and apart for the required time based on the type of divorce filed. If you are looking for more information about at-fault divorce, click here

The divorce process starts when one spouse (the petitioner) files a Petition for Divorce in the parish where one or both spouses reside. Once filed, the other spouse (the respondent) must be served with the divorce papers. They will then have a specified period to respond. After all issues are resolved or decided upon by the court, a judgment of divorce is issued.

What You Need To Know

In Louisiana, there are two types of grounds for divorce: fault-based and no-fault. Fault-based grounds include adultery, felony conviction, and imprisonment, abandonment for one year or more, physical or sexual abuse, and living separate and apart for the required period of time. No-fault grounds for divorce in Louisiana are living separate and apart for either 180 days or 365 days, depending on whether the spouses have minor children together.

In a fault-based divorce, one spouse must prove that the other spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. This can include things like adultery, abandonment, or cruelty. In a no-fault divorce, the spouses do not have to give any reason that the marriage did not work out. Instead, they must live separately and apart for a certain period of time, with the intention of ending their marriage. In Louisiana, the required amount of time depends on whether the spouses have children or not.

Yes, you can get a divorce in Louisiana even if your spouse does not want one. Louisiana is a "no-fault" divorce state, which means that you do not need to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in order to get a divorce. If you and your spouse have been living separate and apart for the required amount of time (either 180 days or 365 days, depending on whether you have minor children), you can file for a no-fault divorce even if your spouse does not agree to it. However, if your spouse contests the divorce, you may need to go to court to have a judge decide the issues for you. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney to represent you in court and help you navigate the legal process.

To obtain a no-fault divorce in Louisiana, spouses must live separate and apart, with the intention of ending their marriage, for a period of either 180 days or 365 days, depending on the circumstances of the marriage. If the spouses have minor children together, they must live separately for 365 days before they can obtain a divorce. If they do not have minor children together, they must live separately for 180 days before they can obtain a divorce.

An Article 102 divorce is a type of divorce in Louisiana that can be filed before the spouses have lived separate and apart for the required length of time. This means that a spouse can file for an Article 102 divorce if the spouses are still living under the same roof or have not yet lived apart for the required time. 

To get the process started, you'll need to file a Petition for Divorce in the appropriate court. After filing the petition, the spouses must live separate and apart without reconciling for the required time. Once this time has passed, either spouse can file a "Rule to Show Cause for 102 Divorce" asking the court to grant a final judgment of divorce.

An Article 103 divorce is a type of divorce in Louisiana that is filed after the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least the required period of time. For an Article 103 divorce, the children must reach the age of 18 before the petition for divorce is filed.

For an Article 103 divorce, the process involves filing a Reconventional Demand if the spouse has legal cause for an immediate divorce under Article 103. An Article 103 divorce is appropriate if the spouses have lived separate and apart for more than the required time to get a divorce, or if one spouse is at fault. After filing the Reconventional Demand, the spouses must live separate and apart without reconciling for the required time. Once this time has passed, either spouse can file a "Rule to Show Cause for 102 Divorce" asking the court to grant a final judgment of divorce.

Both Article 102 and Article 103 divorces in Louisiana are considered no-fault divorces. This means that neither spouse has to prove that the other spouse did something wrong in order to get a divorce. Instead, the spouses must live separate and apart without reconciling for the time required to get a divorce.

The main difference between an Article 102 divorce and an Article 103 divorce is when they are filed with the court. In either case, the couple must live separate and apart without reconciling for the time required to get a divorce. An Article 102 divorce can be filed before the spouses have lived separate and apart for the required length of time, while an Article 103 divorce is filed after the required period of separation has passed. 

Yes, there are a few other requirements you need to meet in order to get a divorce in Louisiana. First, you or your spouse must have been a resident of Louisiana for at least 6 months before filing for divorce. Second, you must have valid grounds for divorce, which can include living separate and apart for the required period of time, or fault-based grounds such as adultery, abandonment, or cruelty. Finally, you must follow the proper procedures for filing for divorce, which can include filing a Petition for Divorce in the appropriate court, serving your spouse with a copy of the petition, and attending any required court hearings.

The time required to get a divorce in Louisiana depends on whether you are seeking a fault-based or no-fault divorce. For a no-fault divorce, the time required depends on whether you have minor children with your spouse. To obtain a no-fault divorce in Louisiana, spouses must live separate and apart, with the intention of ending their marriage, for a period of either 180 days or 365 days, depending on the circumstances of the marriage. If the spouses have minor children together, they must live separately for 365 days before they can obtain a divorce. If they do not have minor children together, they must live separately for 180 days before they can obtain a divorce. Fault-based divorces are considered "immediate" divorces, but the actual time it takes to obtain a divorce can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the court's schedule.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, you may need to go to court to have a judge decide the issues for you. This can include issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. You may need to attend mediation or other alternative dispute resolution sessions before going to court, but if you are unable to reach an agreement, a judge will make a decision based on the evidence presented in court. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney to represent you in court and help you navigate the legal process.

While you are not required to have a lawyer to get a divorce in Louisiana, it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney. Divorce can be a complex and emotional process, and an attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations under Louisiana law, as well as help you navigate the legal process. An attorney can also help you negotiate a fair settlement with your spouse and represent you in court if necessary. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be able to get free or low-cost legal assistance from a legal aid organization in your area.

The cost of getting a divorce in Louisiana can vary depending on several factors, including whether you hire an attorney, whether you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the divorce, and whether you need to go to court to resolve any issues. If you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the divorce, you may be able to file for an uncontested divorce, which can be less expensive than a contested divorce. The filing fee for a divorce in Louisiana is typically around $400, but there may be additional costs for things like serving the divorce papers, hiring a mediator, or hiring an attorney. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may be able to request the court to delay fees when you file

Filing A 102 Divorce

Filing A 102 Divorce

A "102 divorce" in Louisiana refers to a no-fault divorce procedure under Louisiana Civil Code Article 102. It's one of the options for couples who wish to end their marriage and can do so without assigning blame to either party. 

It's important to note that a 102 divorce is for ending the marriage only. If you have issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, or child support, those matters need to be addressed separately, either through a separate court order or an agreement between the parties. 

Steps To Filing A 102 Divorce

At least one spouse must have been a resident of Louisiana for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. 

File a Petition for 102 Divorce in the parish where one of the spouses lives. This document outlines your intent to divorce and provides the court with basic information about your marriage. 

You can use the form for divorce for spouses who have not yet lived separate & apart (or Art. 102 Divorce): 

  1. Spouses have minor children (Fillable Form)
  2. Spouses do not have minor children (Fillable Form)

The fees associated with filing a divorce petition vary by parish. It's advisable to inquire with the local clerk of court about the specific costs in the relevant parish. 

After the Petition for Divorce has been filed it must be properly served to the other spouse. This can be done by a sheriff's deputy, private process server, or sometimes by certified mail. Once served, the other spouse has a limited amount of time to respond. 

Once the petition is filed and served to the other spouse, there's a waiting period that must be observed before the divorce can be finalized. For couples living without children, the waiting period is 180 days. For couples with children, it's 365 days. 

After the waiting period, if all requirements are met and there are no other complications you can request the court to issue a Judgment of Divorce. This document legally ends your marriage. 

Filing A 103 Divorce

Filing A 103 Divorce

A "103 divorce" in Louisiana refers to another no-fault divorce option but with slight differences compared to a "102 divorce." Louisiana Civil Code Article 103 provides several grounds for divorce, but the most commonly utilized is living separate and apart for a requisite period without reconciliation.

Note that a 103 divorce pertains mainly to ending the marital status. If there are other concerns like property distribution, spousal support, child custody, or child support, these need to be separately addressed, either through additional court orders or mutual agreements. 

Steps To Filing A 103 Divorce

Just like with a 102 divorce, at least one spouse must have been a resident of Louisiana for a minimum of six months prior to filing. 

Before filing under Article 103(1), the spouses must already live separate and apart without reconciliation for a specified duration. If the couple has no minor children, the duration is 180 days. If they have minor children, the period extends to 365 days. 

The filing spouse submits a Petition for Divorce under Article 103 in the parish where one of the spouses resides. The document signifies the intention to divorce, offering details about the marriage. 

You can use the form for divorce for spouses who have already lived separate & apart (Guided Form) (or Art. 103 Divorce):

  1. Spouses have minor children (Fillable Form)                   
  2. Spouses do not have minor children (Fillable Form

The fees associated with filing a divorce petition vary by parish. It's advisable to inquire with the local clerk of court about the specific costs in the relevant parish. 

Once the petition is filed, it must officially get served to the other spouse, typically through a sheriff's deputy, a private process server, or sometimes via certified mail. The served spouse then has a specific time to respond. 

Since the couple has already satisfied the living separate and apart requirement by the time of filing the divorce can be finalized relatively quickly after the other party is served and the delays required by law are satisfied. 

Other Issues To Consider

Other Issues To Consider

These are some of the other issues to consider related to getting a divorce and the divorce process that may need to be addressed through additional court orders or mutual agreements.

Other Issues To Consider

A spouse can file for a fault-based divorce with some of the recognized grounds for divorce being, adultery or conviction of a felony and the subsequent sentencing to death or imprisonment at hard labor. 

The spouse seeking a fault-based divorce must be able to prove fault. For instance: 

  • In cases of adultery, concrete evidence might be required. This can sometimes be challenging, as circumstantial evidence may not be enough.
  • For felony convictions, official court records can serve as proof.

Opting for a fault-based divorce can potentially impact various aspects of the divorce settlement, such as:

  • Alimony/Spousal Support: A spouse found at fault might not be entitled to receive spousal support. Conversely, the innocent spouse might have a stronger claim to receive support.
  • Child Custody: The court's primary concern is the best interests of the child. If one spouse's fault can be proven to potentially harm the child, it might impact custody decisions.
  • Property Division: While Louisiana is a community property state and marital assets are typically divided equally, marital misconduct might play a role in some circumstances.

Louisiana does not recognize common law marriages that are entered into within its borders. However, Louisiana will recognize a common law marriage that was validly entered into in another state that does recognize such unions. 

If you entered into a common law marriage in a state that recognizes it and you now reside in Louisiana, here's what you should do if you want to get divorced:

  1. Determine Validity of the Common Law Marriage: First and foremost, make sure your common law marriage is valid according to the state where it was established. Each state that recognizes common law marriages has its own requirements. Generally, those requirements might include:
    1. Co-habitation for a specific period.
    2. Holding yourselves out as a married couple (e.g., sharing a last name, filing joint tax returns).
    3. Having an intent to be married.
  2. If you determine that your common law marriage is valid and you wish to divorce, you'll need to file for divorce in the appropriate Louisiana parish where you or your spouse reside. Even though the marriage was common law, the divorce process will be similar to any other divorce in Louisiana.

Louisiana is a "community property" state, which means that property acquired during the marriage is generally considered to be owned equally by both spouses. When a couple gets divorced in Louisiana, the court will divide their community property in a way that is "fair and equitable," but not necessarily equal. This means that the court will consider a number of factors when deciding how to divide the property, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The needs of each spouse
  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • The contributions of each spouse to the acquisition of the property
  • The value of the property

It is important to note that separate property, which is property that was owned by one spouse before the marriage or was acquired by one spouse during the marriage by gift or inheritance, is not subject to division in a Louisiana divorce. However, it can be difficult to determine what property is separate and what is community, so it is important to have an experienced family law attorney to help you with this process.

Spousal support (also known as alimony) is a payment made by one spouse to the other to help support them after a divorce. In Louisiana, spousal support can be awarded to either spouse, but it is not automatic. The court will consider a number of factors when deciding whether to award spousal support, including:

  • The income and earning capacity of each spouse
  • The financial needs of each spouse
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The contributions of each spouse to the marriage

If the court decides to award spousal support, it will also determine the amount and duration of the payments. Spousal support can be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances of the case.

It is important to have an experienced family law attorney to represent you in court and help you navigate the spousal support process.

Child custody in Louisiana is determined based on the best interests of the child. The court will consider several factors when making a custody determination, including: 

  • The relationship between each parent and the child 

  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child's physical, emotional, and developmental needs. 

  • The child's age, health, and any special needs 

  • The stability of each parent's home environment 

  • The child's preference, if the child is old enough to express a preference 

There are two types of custody in Louisiana: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions about the child's upbringing, such as decisions about education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody refers to where the child will live. Custody can be awarded solely to one parent (sole custody) or shared between both parents (joint custody). It is important to note that Louisiana law encourages both parents to have frequent and continuing contact with their child unless it is not in the best interests of the child.

If you are going through a divorce and have concerns about child custody, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney to represent you in court and help you navigate the custody process.

When you initiate the divorce process by filing a petition with the appropriate Louisiana court, you can include a name change request in your divorce petition or as a separate motion.

You will need to specify your desired name in the documents. If the judge approves your name change request they will issue a court order granting the name change as part of the divorce decree

Once you have your court order for your name change, you can use it to update your identification documents such as your driver's license, Social Security card, and passport. You should also inform relevant institutions, such as banks, employers, and schools, of your new name.

Last Review and Update: Oct 10, 2023
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