Divorce Law: Grounds for Divorce in Louisiana
|Grounds for Divorce||Description|
|Adultery||The act of a married person voluntarily engaging in sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse|
|Felony conviction||If one spouse has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor|
|Abandonment||If one spouse has been intentionally abandoned by the other spouse for one year or more|
|Living separate and apart||If the spouses have been living separate and apart without reconciliation for 180 days or more|
|Cruelty||If one spouse has physically or mentally abused the other spouse or a child|
|Insanity||If one spouse has been judged to be of unsound mind for a period of five years or more|
The state of Louisiana recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. No-fault grounds require spouses to have lived separately for at least 180 days prior to filing for divorce. On the other hand, fault-based divorces can be filed when one spouse has committed certain acts that led to the breakdown of the marriage:
- Cruelty or abuse
- Bigamy (one spouse was already married)
- Conviction of a felony and imprisonment
In some cases, couples may opt for mediation instead of going through traditional litigation. Mediation involves working with a neutral third party who helps them negotiate terms such as property division and child custody arrangements without having to go before a judge.
Overview of Divorce Law in Louisiana
- If one spouse can prove that certain assets were acquired before marriage or through inheritance or gift during marriage;
- If one spouse can show that they contributed more financially towards certain assets than their partner;
Definition of Divorce
Divorce is a legal process that terminates a marriage or domestic partnership. It allows both parties to go their separate ways and remarry if they choose. In Louisiana, divorce can be granted on either fault or no-fault grounds.
In addition to the grounds for divorce mentioned earlier, there are other factors that may impact the outcome of a divorce case:
- The duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s financial situation and earning potential
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- Custody arrangements for any minor children
Types of Divorce
In addition to these types of divorces, there are also specialty options such as collaborative law which allows couples with complex assets and interests to work together towards resolution outside courtrooms while still having lawyers representing each side. There’s also mediated divorces where neutral third-party mediators help couples negotiate terms without having them go before a judge.
Legal Requirements for Divorce
In addition, couples may also need to consider other legal matters such as:
- Property division: As mentioned earlier, Louisiana is a community property state which means that all marital assets are generally split equally between spouses.
- Child custody and support: If minor children are involved, arrangements will need to be made regarding their living situation and financial support.
It’s important to note that going through a divorce can be emotionally draining and legally complex. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that individuals seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney who can help them navigate the process while protecting their rights and interests.
Grounds for Divorce in Louisiana
- Living separate and apart for 180 days or longer without reconciliation;
- Living separate and apart for 365 days or longer without reconciliation if there are minor children from the marriage.
- Adultery committed by either spouse;
- Cruelty or abuse inflicted by one spouse against the other;
- A felony conviction with a sentence of death or imprisonment at hard labor which has been imposed on either spouse after they were married;
- Abandonment by one spouse for a period of one year (with some exceptions);
As mentioned earlier, Louisiana recognizes no-fault grounds for divorce. This means that a couple can obtain a divorce without having to prove fault on the part of either spouse. The most common no-fault ground is living separate and apart from one another for 180 days prior to filing for divorce.
In addition to the separation period, there are other requirements that must be met before a couple can file for divorce:
- At least one spouse must have been domiciled in Louisiana at the time of filing
- The petitioning spouse must have been a resident of Louisiana for at least six months before filing
- If minor children are involved, they must have lived in Louisiana with at least one parent for at least six months before filing
In Louisiana, “irreconcilable differences” is the most common ground for divorce. This means that neither spouse is at fault and there has been a breakdown of the marriage to the point where it cannot be repaired.
When filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences, spouses must have lived separately and apart from each other for at least 180 days prior to filing. If they have minor children together, this period extends to 365 days unless certain conditions are met such as:
- The non-custodial parent provides regular support payments
- The parents attend counseling sessions together
- There are no domestic violence or protective order issues between them
Living Separate and Apart
Living separate and apart is a requirement for a no-fault divorce in Louisiana. This means that spouses must live separately from each other for at least 180 days before filing for divorce.
However, it’s important to note that “living separate and apart” doesn’t necessarily mean living in different households. Spouses can still be considered as living separately even if they reside under the same roof, as long as they maintain separate bedrooms and do not engage in marital relations.
If couples decide to reconcile during the separation period but then later choose to proceed with the divorce process, they will have to restart the 180-day waiting period from scratch.
If you wish to file for divorce on fault-based grounds, it is important that you gather sufficient evidence before filing your case. Evidence may include witness statements, photographs, emails or text messages. An experienced attorney can guide you through this process and help ensure that all necessary steps are taken.
Adultery is one of the grounds for fault-based divorce in Louisiana. It refers to a situation where one spouse engages in sexual activity with someone other than their partner while still being married. Proving adultery can be challenging, as it requires concrete evidence of sexual intercourse or an admission of guilt by the offending spouse.
If proven, adultery can have significant implications on property division and spousal support arrangements. In Louisiana:
- The offending spouse may forfeit their right to receive spousal support
- The non-offending spouse may receive a larger share of marital property
- Adultery does not affect child custody arrangements unless it can be shown that the adulterous relationship had a negative impact on the children’s well-being
One of the fault-based grounds for divorce in Louisiana is a felony conviction. If one spouse has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to an imprisonment term of two years or more, the other spouse may file for divorce based on this ground.
The innocent spouse must prove that their partner was actually convicted of a crime and that they are currently serving time in jail or prison. The conviction does not have to be related to any wrongdoing towards the innocent spouse; it can be any felony offense.
In addition to being used as grounds for divorce, a felony conviction can also impact other aspects of a divorce case such as property division and child custody arrangements. For example:
- If the guilty spouse’s criminal activity resulted in financial losses, the innocent spouse may receive a larger portion of marital assets during property division;
- If there are minor children involved, the guilty parent’s criminal record may affect their ability to obtain custody or visitation rights;
If these requirements are met, then a judge may grant a divorce based on abandonment. However, it’s important to note that simply leaving the marital home does not necessarily constitute abandonment if there was a valid reason for doing so (e.g., domestic violence).
Physical or Sexual Abuse
Physical or sexual abuse can be grounds for divorce in Louisiana. If one spouse has been subjected to physical, emotional or sexual abuse by their partner, they may file for a fault-based divorce on the grounds of cruelty. It is important to note that these cases require evidence such as police reports, medical records and witness statements to support the allegations.
In cases where domestic violence is an issue, the court may grant a restraining order or protective order to ensure the safety of both parties and any children involved. Additionally, if there are minor children involved in the divorce proceedings and one parent has a history of abuse or neglect, it could impact custody arrangements.
In Louisiana, insanity is also recognized as a grounds for divorce. If one spouse has been declared legally insane by a court of law or diagnosed with an incurable mental illness, the other spouse may file for divorce on those grounds.
However, there are some important factors to consider when filing for divorce based on insanity:
- The non-insane spouse must have lived separately from their partner for at least three years before filing
- The court will appoint an attorney to represent the interests of the insane spouse during the proceedings
- If the court grants a divorce based on insanity, it may also order spousal support payments from the non-insane party to help support their former partner’s ongoing care and treatment
Habitual intoxication is one of the fault-based grounds for divorce in Louisiana. It refers to a spouse’s excessive use of drugs or alcohol that has led to the breakdown of the marriage.
In order to prove habitual intoxication, certain factors need to be established:
- The spouse’s history and pattern of drug or alcohol abuse
- The impact of this behavior on the couple’s relationship and daily life
- Any attempts made by the non-intoxicated spouse to get their partner help or stop them from using substances
If habitual intoxication can be proven, it may impact property division as well as child custody arrangements. For example, a court may award primary physical custody of minor children to the sober parent in cases where substance abuse is deemed detrimental to their well-being.
Cruel treatment is one of the fault-based grounds for divorce in Louisiana. It refers to any behavior that endangers the life or health of a spouse and makes it unsafe or intolerable to continue living together as a married couple.
Examples of cruel treatment may include:
- Physical violence or abuse
- Mental, emotional, or verbal abuse
- Neglect, including failure to provide basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care
- Forced isolation from family and friends
No-fault vs. Fault-based Divorce
No-fault divorces are typically less contentious than fault-based ones since neither spouse is required to prove that the other was at fault for the breakdown of their marriage. Instead, they must only show that they have been living separately for 180 days or more before filing for divorce.
Fault-based divorces can be more complicated as one spouse will need to provide evidence that their partner engaged in certain behaviors such as adultery or abuse. However, there may be advantages to pursuing a fault-based divorce such as:
- A greater chance of being awarded a larger share of marital assets
- A higher likelihood of receiving spousal support payments
- Potentially having an advantage in child custody disputes if it can be proven that one parent’s behavior would negatively impact the child’s well-being
Advantages and Disadvantages of No-fault Divorce
Another advantage is that it can be a quicker and less expensive option than going through a fault-based divorce. With no-fault grounds, there’s generally less evidence gathering and legal maneuvering required, which can save time and money.
However, there are some potential disadvantages to consider as well:
- In some cases, one spouse may feel like they’re being unfairly blamed for the breakdown of the marriage when filing for a no-fault divorce
- If there are significant assets involved or child custody arrangements to work out, even an uncontested no-fault divorce could still take several months or longer
- In rare cases where one spouse has committed serious wrongdoing (such as abuse), pursuing a fault-based divorce may be seen as more justifiable in order to hold them accountable for their actions
Advantages and Disadvantages of Fault-based Divorce
- The process can become more expensive and time-consuming as both parties try to prove fault grounds in court.
- It can be emotionally draining, especially if one spouse is publicly accused of wrongdoing.
In Louisiana, it’s important to note that filing for a fault-based divorce requires proof of misconduct by one party. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can advise you on the best course of action based on your specific circumstances.
Proving Fault in a Louisiana Divorce
Proving fault in a Louisiana divorce requires evidence that one spouse committed an act that caused the breakdown of the marriage. Adultery is one of the most common grounds for fault-based divorces.
When it comes to proving adultery, there are several things that must be established:
- The adulterous conduct occurred
- The accused spouse had both the inclination and opportunity to commit adultery
- The other spouse did not condone or forgive the behavior
It’s worth noting that while proving fault can sometimes result in a more favorable outcome when it comes to property division, custody arrangements, or alimony payments, it can also make divorce proceedings more contentious and emotionally difficult for all parties involved.
Burden of Proof
In Louisiana, the spouse filing for divorce based on fault grounds must prove that their partner committed one of the acts mentioned earlier. This means they have to provide evidence to support their claim, such as witness testimony or financial records.
However, when a couple files for a no-fault divorce, there is no need to prove that one spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, they simply need to show that they have been living apart for at least 180 days and there is no hope of reconciliation.
It’s important to note that even in cases where fault is proven, it may not necessarily impact property division or spousal support determinations. The judge will consider all relevant factors before making a decision on these issues.
In no-fault divorces, evidence is not required since both parties agree to end their marriage due to irreconcilable differences. However, they still need to provide documentation such as proof of residency and any child custody agreements.
If couples choose mediation instead of litigation, evidence may not be necessary as both parties work together towards reaching an agreement outside of court. However, it’s always recommended to consult with a lawyer before making any legal decisions regarding divorce proceedings.
Importance of Legal Representation
Additionally, having an attorney by your side may increase the likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome in terms of property division, child custody arrangements, or other issues related to the divorce. It also allows you to focus on healing emotionally while someone else handles the legal details of ending the marriage.
Divorce is a complex and emotional process that can be difficult for both parties involved. Understanding the grounds for divorce in Louisiana, as well as the state’s property division laws, can help make the process smoother.
It’s important to remember that each case is unique and may require individualized attention from an experienced family law attorney. Seeking legal counsel early on can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair settlement.
If you’re considering divorce or have questions about your legal options, it’s best to consult with a qualified attorney who can guide you through the process and provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.
FAQ on ‘Divorce Law: Grounds for Divorce in Louisiana’
What is a no-fault divorce?
A no-fault divorce is one in which neither spouse has to prove that the other spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, they can simply state that they have been living separately and apart from each other without reconciliation for a certain period of time.
What is a fault-based divorce?
A fault-based divorce is one in which one spouse alleges that the other spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. There are several recognized grounds for fault-based divorces in Louisiana, including adultery, desertion, cruelty, and habitual intemperance (i.e., alcohol or drug abuse).
How long does it take to get divorced in Louisiana?
The length of time it takes to get divorced in Louisiana depends on several factors, including whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce and how quickly the parties can reach an agreement on all relevant issues. On average, however, it takes between three and six months to finalize a divorce in Louisiana.
Do I need a lawyer to file for divorce in Louisiana?
No, you do not need a lawyer to file for divorce in Louisiana. However, because divorce can be a complex legal process with significant financial and emotional consequences, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.