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Louisiana Divorce Law

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Divorce law covers alimony, property distribution, child support and child custody. In Louisiana, the divorce laws are complex and can change, depending on the circumstances of the divorce. Speak to a local Louisiana divorce attorney to understand Louisiana divorce and state divorce law.

For your convenience, the chart below summarizes a few of the key concepts of Louisiana's divorce laws:

Louisiana State Laws

  • Fault/No-Fault: No-Fault
  • Property Distribution: Community
  • ADR Available: Yes
  • Parenting Plan Required: No

Louisiana Grounds for Divorce

Couples can file for Louisiana divorce under both no fault or fault grounds. In a no fault divorce, the spouses must have been living separately for at least 180 days before filing for divorce.

Grounds for a fault divorce include:

  • Adultery
  • Felony conviction
  • Abandonment for one year
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Living separate for two years
  • Living separate for one year without reconciliation from the date of legal separation

Louisiana Residency Requirements

Before filing for a Louisiana divorce, the filing spouse will need to meet the residency requirement set by Louisiana divorce law. In Louisiana the filing spouse must be a resident of the state for 12 months before filing. The divorce petition will be filed in the parish or county where the petitioner lives.

Louisiana Divorce Waiting Period

In Louisiana divorce, the couple must wait 180 days before filing for divorce. The petition must also meet the Louisiana residency requirement. If there are minor children, there is a divorce waiting period of one year after the divorce petition is filed. The waiting period is reduced to six months if there are no children.

Louisiana doesn't have a remarriage waiting period.

Louisiana Property Division

In Louisiana divorce, the state follows community property law. If the couple is unable to reach an agreement on property division, all community or marital assets are split equally by the Louisiana divorce court.

Under divorce law, community property is defines as all property and debt acquired from the date the marriage began until it ended. There are some exceptions. Gifts, inheritances and property owned prior to the marriage will be considered separate property and remain with each spouse. All other property will then be split equally.

The Louisiana divorce court will consider the needs of each spouse, and each party has the right to ask to be awarded the family home. Typically, the divorce court will give the family home to the spouse awarded Louisiana child custody. When deciding who to award the home to, the divorce court will consider:

  • Value of the spouse's property
  • Economic needs and circumstances of each spouse
  • Needs of the children
  • Contributions each spouse made to the acquisition of marital property and future earning potential

Louisiana Alimony

In Louisiana divorce law, if spouses are unable to reach an agreement on alimony, the Louisiana divorce court will make an alimony support order, depending on the circumstances of the case.

When determining an alimony award in a Louisiana divorce, the divorce court considers:

  • Financial needs and obligations of each spouse
  • Each spouse's income
  • Current and future earning capacity of each spouse
  • Effect of any Louisiana child custody award
  • Time needed for receiving spouse to acquire education, training or employment
  • Health and age of the spouses
  • Length of the marriage
  • Tax repercussions

Alimony payments can influence the Louisiana property division award.

Louisiana Child Custody

During a Louisiana divorce, the divorce court will determine child custody by what's in the best interest of the child. Factors considered by the Louisiana divorce court when deciding child custody include:

  • Relationship between the child and each parent
  • Ability of the parent to give the child love, affection and spiritual guidance, as well as continue education and raising the child
  • Parent's ability to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and material needs
  • Amount of time the child has lived in a stable environment and the desire to maintain it
  • Permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home
  • Moral fitness of the parents - if it affects the child's welfare
  • Health of everyone involved
  • Home, school and community history of the child
  • Reasonable preference of the child, if he or she is mature enough to express a preference
  • Willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a continuing relationship between the child and other party
  • Distance between the parents' residences
  • Parents' history of taking part of the responsibility for the care and raising of the child

Louisiana Grandparent Visitation

Under divorce law in Louisiana, grandparents can petition for child visitation during a Louisiana divorce or legal separation. The Louisiana divorce court will grant grandparent visitation if it is in the best interest of the child.

When determining what would be in the child's best interest, the Louisiana divorce court considers:

  • Length and quality of the relationship between the child and grandparent
  • If the child is in need of guidance that would best be provided for by the relative
  • Child's preference - if he or she is mature enough to express a preference
  • Willingness of the relative to encourage a relationship between the child and parents
  • Health of the child and relative

The Louisiana divorce courts will presume that a fit parent's decision is in the best interest of the child and that decision will be given special weight. If a parent denies visitation rights for grandparents, it's presumed that decision is best for the child; however, the grandparents can petition the divorce court for child visitation rights.

Louisiana Child Support

In a Louisiana divorce, both parents are obligated to support any children from the marriage. To determine child support, Louisiana adopted child support guidelines, which are followed unless the factors seem unfair or not in the best interest of the child.

The Louisiana divorce court uses the following standards to determine whether to use the child support guidelines or not:

  • Extraordinary medical expenses of the child or paying parent
  • Permanent or temporary disability of the paying parent
  • Need for immediate or temporary support
  • Extraordinary marital debt
  • Combined income of the parents is less than what's outlined in the guidelines charts
  • Other relevant considerations

If the Louisiana divorce court decides to use the guidelines, child support is calculated by estimating the amount of support that would have been available to the child if the marriage had remained intact and dividing it proportionally by the parent's percentage of income.

Louisiana Child Support Enforcement

When supporting parents don't pay child support in a Louisiana divorce, the court has child support enforcement methods it uses to collect unpaid child support. Child support enforcement can include a variety of tactics, including withholding of income or suspension of driver's licenses.

Under divorce law, the Louisiana courts use the following child support enforcement methods:

  • Income assignment
  • Interception of tax refunds
  • Interception of lottery winnings
  • Suspension of occupational, professional, driver's, hunting and fishing licenses
  • Suspension of motor vehicle registration
  • Contempt of court hearings
  • Passport denial

Please understand that this information is provided for illustration purposes only and is not legal advice. Learn about Louisiana divorce and your divorce options with help from Louisiana divorce lawyers near you. Connect today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out the divorce case review form below.

The above synopsis of Louisiana divorce laws is by no means all-inclusive and has been adapted from applicable state laws. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local Louisiana divorce lawyer in your area.

This "Louisiana Divorce Laws" page was last updated July 2009.

Note: Keep in mind that all divorce laws are complex. If you need legal divorce advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local divorce attorney.