Tag: child custody

Can I file for Divorce without a Lawyer in Louisiana?

You can. The State of Louisiana allows you to file your own divorce without the assistance of an attorney. However, you may want to at a minimum have a consultation with a Louisiana divorce attorney to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row and file the correct paperwork.

It’s always better to seek the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney before filing on your own, especially if there were children born of the marriage and/or community property that needs to be divided.

You don’t want to make a mistake on your paperwork and have to start over or worse, pay more money than you have to. Keep in mind, the Judge cannot give you legal advice on how to file a divorce in Louisiana! Neither can the Clerk of Court. All they can do is accept the documents that you provide them and file. If your paperwork is incorrect, they cannot advise you on how to fix it.

The court will hold you to the same standard as parties represented by lawyers should you decide to represent yourself in your divorce. I’ve seen numerous people get taken advantage of because they didn’t know what they were doing or didn’t file the correct paperwork.

Most divorce attorneys in Louisiana offer free consultations. Take advantage of this and see just how difficult your particular case may be and whether or not you want to test the waters and strike out on your own.

Can I get a divorce using one of those websites like LegalZoom?

Legal Zoom is not an attorney. While you can purchase forms online to file your divorce, they may not necessarily be Louisiana specific. Louisiana divorce laws are different than other states and you need to make sure your Petition for Divorce follows our body of law or else your divorce will not be valid and you will still be married.

Online divorce form generators cannot give you legal advice. Form websites such as LegalZoom.com and 123Divorce.com or one of the other generic legal form websites usually only work as long as both you and your spouse agree on everything and you are both willing to sign the divorce paperwork in full.

If there are any issues with the divorce, these companies cannot give you legal advice and if you mess up your form, you have to pay again. Hiring an attorney will ensure that your divorce paperwork is correct and will meet the guidelines to get your Judgment of Divorce. If there are issues, an attorney can fix them and/or go to court if that’s needed.

If a divorce matter needs a Judge’s intervention, these form websites will not work- they are not your lawyer and may not have a working knowledge of the intricacies of Louisiana Divorce Law. That’s not to say you can’t get a divorce using online forms, just make sure they are correct.

Does Louisiana have common law marriages?

No. Louisiana is not a common law marriage state and you are only considered married if you have properly obtained a marriage license and had a valid marriage ceremony. It does not matter how long you have lived together, you are only married if you followed the guidelines. However, Louisiana does recognize common law marriages from other states.

Will the court appoint a lawyer for me in my divorce if my spouse shows up with one?

No. Court appointed laws are generally only available in criminal cases and not civil cases. If you printed your divorce online and your spouse shows up to court with an attorney, you are considered as representing yourself, or in proper person. The judge will expect you to know the law and present your case as your attorney would.

Not a good position to be in. You can alleviate this by speaking with an attorney to see if you need legal representation. Remember, most law firms in Louisiana conduct free consultations for divorces.

What if my partner and I get back together, but separate again?

This is called reconciliation and is explained in Article 104 of the Louisiana Civil Code. Reconciliation basically extinguishes the cause of action for divorce. This means you have to start over for the living separate and apart requirement. If you reconcile with your spouse and resume living together and holding yourself out as husband and wife, the time you spent separate will not count towards your divorce.

It should be noted that having sexual relations with your ex does not necessarily count as reconciliation. There are other factors that will be considered.

What if my spouse moved out of state, can I still file my divorce in Louisiana?

Yes. If your soon to be ex has moved out of the state, you can still file your Petition for Divorce in Louisiana. You will have to have them served with the petition and it may prolong your divorce, but an attorney can do the leg work for you and make sure your divorce gets finalized even if your spouse fled the state.

What if my spouse refuses to grant me a divorce in Louisiana?

Gone are the days when a spouse can deny a divorce. Your spouse cannot halt the divorce proceedings by refusing to sign on the dotted line. Louisiana is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning you don’t need a reason to divorce. You just have to fulfill the separation requirements.

What happens if my spouse ignores the divorce paperwork and doesn't answer?

You can still ask the court for a Judgment of Divorce once the proper steps have been accomplished. Your spouse doesn’t have to acknowledge or sign for the divorce. It makes it easier if they do, but it’s not required for you to get a divorce in Louisiana.

What if I can’t afford the court filing fees for my divorce?

If you are low income and unable to pay the filing fees for your divorce, there is still hope. Article 5181 of the Louisiana Code of Civil procedure states: “an individual who is unable to pay the costs of court because of his poverty and lack of means may prosecute or defend a judicial proceeding in any trial or appellate court without paying the costs in advance or as they accrue or furnishing security therefor.”

If you are unable to afford the fees to file your divorce in Louisiana, the law provides a way that you can file an affidavit stating your inability to pay. This will allow you to proceed with your case in forma pauperis (IFP). You will have to fill out a form that lists out your expenses and income and you will have to sign stating that it is correct. You will need a witness who knows your financial situation and this form will need to be notarized. The Judge will then sign if you meet the parameters to have your court costs deferred. Keep in mind that this doesn’t wipe the slate clean, you will still likely be responsible to pay your filing fees. These can run anywhere from $200-$400 depending on the circumstances of your divorce.

 

I hope you found this article helpful! If you have further questions about your Louisiana divorce, call me at (318) 229-1608 or send an email to Jerome@AndriesLawFirm.com. I would be glad to help walk you through the process.

 

Similar Articles: Louisiana Divorce GuideUncontested Divorce, Divorce Filing Fees, Who Gets Domiciliary Status?

 

How much does it cost to file a Divorce in Louisiana?

If your Google search has brought you to this page you are probably getting ready to file for divorce or are considering your options.

I’ve written a number of legal articles to help explain some of the nuances of filing for divorce in Louisiana and I hope this one will explain the numerous fees you may encounter in a way that is easy to understand.

Filing for Divorce in Louisiana

There are a few things you need to know in regards to “how much does it cost to file a divorce in Louisiana.”

First, it all depends on whether your divorce is a contested matter or uncontested. A contested divorce is one in which there are various issues the parties cannot agree on and wish to have a Judge rule on. This could include child custody, child support, community property and other ancillary matters that need to be settled.

An uncontested divorce in Louisiana is exactly what it sounds like; the parties agree. These are substantially easier, but still have particular requirements that must be met. You want to follow these court rules exactly or you will have to start over.

Uncontested divorces are substantially cheaper as there may not even be a court hearing. Basically, there is no fight. Sure, there may be small matters that you will have to work out with your spouse, but you have agreed to file the divorce and work them out without judicial assistance.

For the purpose of this article in discussing divorce fees in Louisiana, we will assume we are only talking about the actual filing. Attorney fees vary widely on contested divorces because you will likely have to enter into an hourly agreement. With attorney fees averaging $150-$300/hour, your legal fees can add up quickly!

Uncontested divorces are different, whereas, some attorneys will work out a flat fee arrangement with you. We do that here and it saves clients a substantial amount of money. You pay us one fee and we handle the rest. Our rates are highly competitive, call us for pricing.

How much does it cost to file for Divorce in Louisiana?

Once we have gathered all of the required information and compiled it into a Petition for Divorce, we now have to file the documents and have your ex-spouse served. If he/she accepts service, we execute what’s called a Waiver of Service. This saves on service fees and makes the process much quicker. Who wants to get served at work? I wouldn't and most people agree to accept the service. It puts money back in your pocket if you have children together.

The Clerk of Court fees vary from parish to parish, but expect to pay anywhere from $250-$400 to have your Petition for Divorce filed. This includes service and if you can talk with your ex and get them to agree to accept service, you will get a portion of this back. This filing fee doesn’t go to your attorney, but is solely for the processing of your divorce paperwork.

The Clerk will stamp your petition and send it to the Judge’s chambers and present it for signature. If you are filing a 102 Divorce, there is a waiting period to have your divorce finalized. Let’s discuss that right now.

How long do I have to wait to get a Divorce in Louisiana?

  1. If you are married with children, the separation requirement in Louisiana is 365 days.
  2. If you are married without children, you only have to wait 180 days.

These are the “No-Fault” divorces, but you can file and claim adultery or abuse and that will speed up the waiting period.

If you haven’t met the required separation requirement before filing, you just have to file your petition and wait. If you have already been separated and living apart beyond the requirement, you file and the judge will sign your judgment and you will be divorced.

How Long Does a Divorce take once Filed?

Once your divorce is filed, it is out of your hands. Your Petition for Divorce will make its way to the Judge and he/she will review to make sure everything has been filed correctly. Once the Judgment for Divorce is signed, you will receive a copy and your divorce will be finalized. This part could take a week or longer depending on the court docket and how busy the judge is.

How can I get a quick divorce?

Unfortunately, there’s no real quick way to do it. Let’s say you've already been separated for the required amount of time to satisfy Louisiana’s separation requirement and your spouse agrees to sign the Waiver of Service, then it will be relatively quick. You just then have to wait for the Judge to sign and for it to pass through all of the systems.

Can my spouse slow down the divorce process?

Not really. If it’s a hotly contested case, then yes, they can file numerous things that keep you in court and fighting. If it’s an uncontested divorce, once you have gathered the information and spoken with your attorney, there’s not much your ex can do to prolong the inevitable. If you want a divorce, you can get a divorce and your ex cannot keep you in a relationship that you do not want to be in.

Can you get a divorce without your spouse’s consent in Louisiana?

Absolutely! Gone are the days when someone could just say they don’t agree to divorce. Sure, there may be issues that take years for the parties to hash out, but they can’t keep you married. Even avoiding service won’t stop the divorce.

 

I hope this article was helpful in explaining how much a divorce costs in Louisiana and the living separate and apart requirement. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us at (318) 229-1608 or shoot me an email: Jerome@AndriesLawFirm.com.

Similar Articles: Who gets domiciliary status in a Louisiana Custody Case, Uncontested Divorces in Louisiana, The Divorce Guide

Who gets Domiciliary Status in a Louisiana Custody Case?

This is a question you’re probably asking yourself right now if you’re going through a divorce with young children in Louisiana.

Louisiana provides joint custody of children between the mother and father in most custody situations. Joint custody is presumed by the courts to be in the best interest of the children and is awarded regularly. Sole custody can be awarded, but is much less common than joint custody in Louisiana unless there is an extenuating circumstance leading to the need for sole custody.

Basically, there has to be a good reason as to why joint custody isn’t desired.

While joint custody may be favored by the Louisiana court system, it does not mean, however, that both parents will exercise equal physical time with the children. In the majority of cases, one parent will be designated as the domiciliary parent, while the other will have specific or reasonable visitation rights.

The old adage of the father only getting every other weekend is slowly being dissolved and Louisiana family law is moving swiftly in the direction of providing a more equal footing in regards to actual physical time spent with the children. One parent will still need to have primary custody for decisions affecting the children such as medical and school.

What does it mean to have Domiciliary Status in Louisiana?

Domiciliary status gives the parent decision making power. Decisions made by the domiciliary parent are presumed to be in the best interests of the child/children by the Louisiana court system. It is possible for the noncustodial parent to overturn the custodial parent’s decision on a matter if he/she doesn’t agree, however, the noncustodial parent would have to prove in court that the decision was not in the best interests of the child.

What Decisions can a Domiciliary Parent Make?

The parent designated as the custodial or domiciliary parent has the power to make all decisions affecting the child in the event of a disagreement with the other parent. It gives tie-breaker authority. The domiciliary parent is the parent with whom the child shall primarily reside, but the other parent shall have physical custody during the time periods that assure frequent and continuing contact with both parents.

Joint custody in Louisiana is designed to give children ample time to spend with both parents. While it is rare that physical custody is split 50/50, it does happen. When the court awards joint custody, a “Joint Custody Plan,” or a “Joint Custody Implementation Plan” is normally prepared by an experienced child custody attorney and executed to be signed by the parties and the Judge presiding over the case.

Joint Custody Plans outline the custody agreement and sets forth the custodial schedule. This will determine the amount of time the child/children will be with each parent. The document will usually cover other important issues dealing with child custody in Louisiana such as medical, education and extracurricular activities the children may be involved in. It will also outline communication between the parties.

It’s important that you speak with an attorney when outlining your wishes for a joint custody plan in Louisiana as it will be presented to the Judge for signature and will go into effect upon execution. These can be hard to change once they are signed and filed at the Courthouse, so make sure you put proper thought into what you want them to say.

Can we agree who gets to be domiciliary parent?

Yes, the parties can agree on who will be the domiciliary parent without court intervention. However, the designation has to be one that is in the best interest of the child. Even if you do agree on everything, it is still advisable to put your wishes into writing and present for the Judge’s signature. Remember, just because you agree now doesn’t mean things won’t change. You don’t want to find yourself in a he said/she said situation involving your children.

  1. Meet with an attorney
  2. Put your wishes in writing
  3. Present for Judge’s signature and file at the Courthouse

Do you have to have a domiciliary parent if you agree on everything?

A domiciliary parent isn’t required. The parents can agree that neither of them will be designated as domiciliary parent in Louisiana. Each situation is different and there is a chance that neither parent needs to have domiciliary status. Remember, child custody is about doing what’s in the best interest of the child/children. If you and your former spouse are able to communicate and work together and co-parent- this will be a much easier life transition.

However, in most cases, there should be a domiciliary parent appointed either by agreement or court ordered. Why? There could be issues later down the road that you didn’t foresee. You don’t want to have to return to court over minor issues that could easily be resolved with one parent being named domiciliary parent.

 

If you are going through a custody case in Louisiana, or have come to an agreement and want the help of an attorney to draft an agreement with your former spouse, give us a call and we will gladly walk you through the process.

 

Similar Articles: Louisiana Divorce Guide, Uncontested Divorces, What Can I Expect to Pay for an Uncontested Divorce

 

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