R. Jerome Andries, Louisiana Divorce Attorney
If you or your partner are preparing to file for divorce, this guide will help you understand Louisiana laws in regards to divorce. You have many options when it comes to divorce in Louisiana. If you and your soon-to-be ex are on amicable terms, you may be able to get an uncontested divorce that will save you both a great deal of money in the long run. This guide is not exhaustive, you should still consult with an attorney before proceeding in your divorce.
Where to File a Divorce in Louisiana
The "Petition for Divorce" must be filed in a parish where either party lives or in the parish where the couple last lived together.
Living Separate and Apart: The Separation Requirement
If no children were born of the marriage; the State of Louisiana requires the couple to live separate and apart for 180 days before granting divorce.
If children were born of the marriage, the separation requirement is 365 days.
Grounds for Divorce
Louisiana does not require grounds for divorce. It will be granted to couples who have fulfilled the separation requirement of either 180 days or 365 days.
This is beneficial to couples that do not wish to bring up unnecessary allegations about one another in open court, which then becomes public record. The couple can just separate and go their separate ways.
Louisiana does recognize an at-fault divorce based on the other spouse committing adultery or the other spouse committing a felony and being sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor.
Is Having Grounds for Divorce Beneficial to my Case?
Having grounds for divorce may be helpful in determining ancillary matters such as child custody. The Judge will want to look into the character and moral fitness of the parents when deciding child custody in Louisiana. For example, child custody may be affected if there are claims of one parent physically or sexually abusing the child.
The Judge may also use the grounds for divorce to award custody or to deny a claim for spousal support.
If the parties are agreeing to an uncontested divorce, grounds for divorce will likely not come into play.
Reconciliation of the parties will extinguish the cause of action for divorce. For example, a couple who had separated for three months then reconciled and began living again as husband and wife will have to begin the process again should they split again.
When Can I Get a Judgment of Divorce?
A couple without children can obtain a judgment of divorce in Louisiana after being separated for 180 days in a no-fault action.
A couple with children will have to wait 365 days after separation to obtain a judgment of divorce.
At-fault divorces based on the other spouse committing adultery or a felony sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor, shall be granted on the petition of a spouse.
How Much Does a Divorce in Louisiana Cost?
The courts will charge a filing fee before you can even file your Petition for Divorce. There will be a cost associated with having the other party served with the petition. Different parishes have different filing fees. It's best to chest the court's website to be sure.
The cost of your divorce will depend on a number of factors, the most important being whether it is contested or uncontested. If it is contested; meaning there are unresolved issues such as child custody, spousal support and property, then your bill will be a great deal higher. Many attorneys require a retainer and they charge against it at a rate of $150-$300 an hour. Most attorneys will ask for a large retainer up front to ensure they don't run out of money before the case is finished.
If your divorce is uncontested, you won't have to spend quite as much to obtain your divorce. At the Andries Law Firm, we offer flat fees on uncontested divorces in Louisiana that are highly competitive for the Alexandria area. That means you do not have to put up a large retainer and the amount you pay will cover the entire divorce. If other matters are brought up after the divorce is filed with the court, that portion will have to be negotiated. We offer payment plans to those who qualify.
What If I Can't Afford Divorce Filing Fees?
If you are unable to afford your filing fees up front, you can file what is known as a pauper form with the court. The Judge will look at the amount of money you make and how many bills you are paying. She will then look at the guidelines and determine whether you will have to pay your filing fees up front. If she signs the pauper form, you can file your Petition for Divorce without having to pay the fees up front. You will still be responsible for the payment arrangement that you made with your attorney.
How is Child Custody Determined?
The court will attempt to determine the best interest of the child when determining child custody by using the factors described in the Louisiana Civil Code. The court prefers the parents to have joint custody with one parent being named primary domiciliary parent. Joint custody attempts to keep both parents actively involved in the child's life.
Can Custody be Agreed Upon Outside of Court?
Yes. If the parents are able to agree who is to have custody, the court shall award custody in accordance with their agreement unless the best interest of the child requires a different award. In other words, as long as the agreement is good for the child, the court will honor it.
The longer a couple spends fighting in court, the more expensive it will be as both parties rack up billable hours to be paid to their attorneys. It also may have long lasting effects on the children. It may be best for the couple to attempt to agree on as much as they can BEFORE going to court.
What About Mediations?
We always recommend couples to attempt to work out issues before court. Let's say you've worked out the majority of issues, but still have a few minor issues to figure out. Instead of going straight to court, you can do a mediation to resolve the remaining matters. This will cost substantially less than fighting it out in court. We can help you with this as well at the Andries Law Firm.
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Material presented on the Andries Law Firm, LLC website is intended for information purposes only. It is not intended as professional or legal advice and should not be construed as such. Some links within the website may lead to other sites. Andries Law Firm, LLC does not necessarily sponsor, endorse or otherwise approve of the materials appearing in such sites. The use of internet e-mail for conveying sensitive information is discouraged. Your communication to us through this website may not be considered as privileged or confidential, and will not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Andries Law Firm, LLC and any party. The attorney primarily responsible for this website is R. Jerome Andries. Principle office is located in Alexandria, Louisiana.