Louisiana Divorce Laws & How to File 2023 Guide (2024)

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Divorce in Louisiana is necessary if you are married and you wish to end your marriage. If you are hoping to dissolve your union, you need to know some key facts such as what are the grounds for filing and how to file for divorce in Louisiana.

This guide explains everything you need to know to permanently end your marriage and walk away newly single with a divorce settlement agreement that makes sense for you.

Who Can File for Divorce in Louisiana?

You can file for divorce in Louisiana if either you or your spouse is domiciled in the state at the time you file a petition to end your marriage. You’re considered domiciled if you live in the state. Domicile exists in the state if you have a driver’s license there, register your car in the state, file a tax return there or are registered to vote there.

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What Are the Grounds to File for Divorce in Louisiana?

When you petition the court for a divorce, you must provide a reason to end the marriage. The reason is the grounds for divorce. Louisiana has both fault and no-fault divorces. You may be eligible for a no-fault divorce if:

  • You and your spouse have no children together under 18 and have lived separately for 180 days or more
  • You and your spouse have children together under 18 and have lived separately for 365 days or more

You are eligible for a fault divorce if:

  • Your spouse committed adultery
  • Your spouse sexually abused you, your child or your spouse’s child during the marriage, regardless of whether criminal charges were filed
  • Your spouse committed a felony and was sentenced to either imprisonment with hard labor or death
  • A protective order or injunction was issued to protect against domestic abuse of you, your child, or your spouse’s child

Article 102 vs. Article 103 divorce

In Louisiana, you can file for divorce under either Article 102 or Article 103.

  • An Article 102 divorce allows you to file for divorce and then live separately for the required time period
  • An Article 103 divorce is appropriate if you have already lived separately

The right option for you depends on whether you are already living apart or not.

Covenant Marriage and Divorce in Louisiana

Louisiana recognizes covenant marriages, which couples can choose to enter into if they sign a declaration of intent stipulating the following:

  • They agree to live together as husband and wife
  • They have carefully chosen each other and disclosed any information that could adversely impact the decision to get married
  • They have received premarital counseling from a clergy member or professional marriage counselor
  • They commit to making all reasonable efforts to preserve their marriage if trouble arises, including getting marital counseling if they experience difficulties

If you have entered into a covenant marriage, you cannot divorce until you have had marital counseling and there are limited reasons for divorce including the following:

  • Your spouse committed adultery
  • Your spouse committed a felony and was sentenced to imprisonment via hard labor or death
  • Your spouse abandoned you for at least a year
  • Your spouse sexually abused you or your or your spouse’s child
  • You and your spouse have lived separate and apart for two years, for one year and six months if you legally separated if there are minor children of the marriage, for one year if the legal separation occurred due to domestic abuse or for a year in all other situations involving legal separation

How to File for Divorce in Louisiana

To file for divorce in Louisiana, you must file a petition in the parish where you and your spouse lived as a married couple or in the parish where you or your spouse currently live. You can find the right court by checking a Map of Judicial Districts.

You need to submit certain forms to the court, with the specifics depending on what kind of divorce you are pursuing. The Louisiana State Bar Association provides guided forms as well as fillable forms for different types of divorces including a divorce with and without minor children.

You will need to pay court filing fees, which vary by parish but which can total several hundred dollars. If you are unable to afford the fees, you can submit an affidavit to the court asking the court to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) and have fees waived.

After you have submitted the required forms to the court, your spouse needs to be provided with notification–service of process–and given the opportunity to answer your petition by submitting court forms of their own.

Your case may either proceed to a divorce hearing or may finalize without a hearing, depending on the type of divorce you have chosen.

Serving Divorce Paperwork in Louisiana

Your spouse must be given proper notification that you have filed for divorce. You can request that a sheriff serve the divorce papers to your spouse, but will have to pay a fee. You can serve your spouse with papers by certified mail if they live outside of the state.

You can simplify this process if your spouse is willing to sign a Waiver of Service/Acceptance of Service form in front of a notary.

Contested or Uncontested Divorce

When you divorce in Louisiana, your divorce will be contested or uncontested.

If it is contested, that means you and your spouse cannot agree on the issues raised by the dissolution of your marriage. You’re essentially asking the court to decide on things you can’t compromise on, such as how custody should be shared or how property should be divided. Contested divorces are more expensive and you may not end up happy with the outcome.

An uncontested divorce occurs when you and your spouse agree on the issues and draft your own divorce settlement. SInce you can compromise and create your settlement together, this is more likely to result in an outcome that’s right for your family–as long as you and your spouse can find a way to work together. This can also be a cheaper option.

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What Is the Waiting Period for a Louisiana Divorce?

You cannot get divorced in Louisiana until you and your spouse have lived separately for either 180 or 365 days depending on whether you have any minor children or not.

Getting Legal Help With a Divorce in Louisiana

Divorce in Louisiana can be complicated, as you will need to decide whether to file for an Article 102 or Article 103 divorce, and you will need to make sure you file the correct paperwork with the court. You’ll also want to be certain you protect your rights if a settlement agreement is reached.

A Louisiana family law attorney can help you to navigate the process so you end up with the most favorable divorce settlement possible with no unnecessary delays in the process.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How is marital property divided in a Louisiana divorce?

Louisiana is a community property state. Marital property (and marital debts) are divided 50-50 when divided by the court. You can alternatively choose to create your own divorce settlement agreement and divide up property in a way that seems fair to you as long as you and your spouse can agree.

Can you get alimony in a Louisiana divorce?

Alimony may be awarded in a Louisiana divorce in certain circumstances. Factors affecting alimony include the length of the marriage, the lifestyle established during it and the earning power of each spouse.

How long does a Louisiana divorce take?

A Louisiana divorce typically cannot be finalized until you and your spouse have lived separately for a period of 180 or 365 days depending on whether you have children under the age of 18.

Louisiana Divorce Laws & How to File 2023 Guide (2024)

FAQs

Louisiana Divorce Laws & How to File 2023 Guide? ›

How to File for Divorce in Louisiana. To file for divorce in Louisiana, you must file a petition in the parish where you and your spouse lived as a married couple or in the parish where you or your spouse currently live. You can find the right court by checking a Map of Judicial Districts.

How long do you have to be separated before filing for divorce in Louisiana? ›

A judge can grant a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have lived separate and apart continuously for at least: 180 days if you and your spouse do not have a child together under 18 years old; or. 365 days if you and your spouse do have a child together under 18 years old.

Does it matter who files for divorce first in Louisiana? ›

Many attorneys would tell you that there aren't really any advantages to who files for divorce first; however, I think there are some advantages that should be considered: You have time to emotionally, mentally and financially prepare yourself for the fallout, with less surprises.

Do I need a lawyer to file for divorce in Louisiana? ›

Yes. The law allows you to file for a divorce without a lawyer. However, it is always better to seek the assistance of a lawyer, especially if you have children and/or community property. You should also keep in mind that neither the Judge nor the Clerk of Court's office can give you legal advice.

How do I file for divorce on my own in Louisiana? ›

The procedures for filing an uncontested divorce and contested divorce in Louisiana are the same. To start a divorce, you'll need to file a petition for divorce in the parish where you or your spouse lives. Alternatively, you can file in the parish where you last lived as a married couple.

Can I date while separated before divorce in Louisiana? ›

If you and your spouse are living separately, and have filed for divorce, then you are technically “separated” under the eyes of the law. As a result, dating someone else does not count as adultery.

What are grounds for immediate divorce in Louisiana? ›

The grounds for a fault-based divorce in Louisiana are listed in Louisiana Civil Code article 103. They include adultery, certain acts of domestic violence and abuse, and conviction of a felony and sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor.

How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Louisiana? ›

Divorce Filing Fees and Typical Attorney Fees by State
StateAverage Filing FeesOther Divorce Costs and Attorney Fees
Louisiana$150 to $250Average fees: $10,000
Maine$120Average fees: $8,000+
Maryland$165Average fees: $11,000
Massachusetts$200Average fees: $12,000+
48 more rows
Jul 21, 2020

What is the wife entitled to in a divorce in Louisiana? ›

Louisiana is a community property state. All property and debts acquired during the marriage are typically split equally, unless the spouses have a legally binding agreement or are subject to a court ruling to the contrary.

Do you have to go to court for a divorce in Louisiana? ›

You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your Judgment of Divorce. Grounds for divorce are legally recognized reasons to get a divorce. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship.

What is considered legally separated in Louisiana? ›

you and your spouse have been living separate and apart for a minimum of two years (if you have a court-approved legal separation, you only need to separate for one year, or 18 months if you have children (LSA-C.C. Art. 103; Johnson v. Johnson, 168 So.

Does adultery affect divorce in Louisiana? ›

Adultery may significantly impact spousal support in a Louisiana fault-based divorce. However, Louisiana law states that lower-income spouses can only receive spousal support if they: Need financial support; OR. Didn't commit any of the aforementioned marital misconduct before filing their divorce petition.

What is a wife entitled to in a divorce in Louisiana? ›

With few exceptions, the court will first value all of a couple's community property and assets. Those assets are then divided so that each spouse receives one-half of all their community property. In some cases, the court may order that certain assets be sold and the proceeds be split equally between the two spouses.

How much does it cost to file for divorce in Louisiana? ›

Divorce Filing Fees and Typical Attorney Fees by State
StateAverage Filing FeesOther Divorce Costs and Attorney Fees
Louisiana$150 to $250Average fees: $10,000
Maine$120Average fees: $8,000+
Maryland$165Average fees: $11,000
Massachusetts$200Average fees: $12,000+
48 more rows
Jul 21, 2020

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