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Louisiana Divorce Laws
Residency and Filing Requirements:In order to file for a divorce in Louisiana, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements are as follows:
The filing spouse must be a resident for at least 12 months prior to filing. The divorce shall be filed in the parish in which either spouse resides.
Except in the case of a covenant marriage, a divorce shall be granted upon motion of a spouse when either spouse has filed a petition for divorce and upon proof that one hundred eighty days have elapsed from the service of the petition. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Article: 42)
Grounds for Filing:The Petition for Divorce must declare the appropriate Louisiana grounds upon which the divorce is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The divorce grounds are as follows:
A divorce will be granted by the court on the following grounds:
The spouses have lived separate and apart continuously for at least one hundred eighty days (180) prior to the filing.
A spouse to a covenant marriage may obtain a judgment of divorce only upon proof of any of the following: (1) The other spouse has committed adultery. (2) The other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor. (3) The other spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for a period of one year and constantly refuses to return. (4) The other spouse has physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses. (5) The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for a period of two years. (6) The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for a period of one year from the date the judgment of separation from bed and board was signed. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Article: 103)
Filing Spouse Title:Petitioner or Plaintiff. The Petitioner or Plaintiff is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.
Non-Filing Spouse Title:Respondent or Defendant. The Respondent or Defendant is the spouse who does not file the initial divorce papers, but rather receives them by service.
Court Name:__________ Judicial District Court, Parish of _________, Louisiana. This is the Louisiana court where the divorce will be filed. The court will assign a case number and have jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant the orders concerning, but not limited to: property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation. The name of the court is clearly represented at the top of all documents that are filed.
Primary Documents:Petition for Divorce and Final Judgment of Divorce. These are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a divorce according to Louisiana law. There are anywhere from ten to twenty other documents that may be required throughout the filing process. A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are: Verification, Marital Settlement Agreement, Financial Affidavit, Request for Hearing, and Notice of Hearing.
Court Clerk's Title:District Clerk's Office. The clerk or the clerk's assistants will be the people managing your paperwork with the court. The clerk's office will keep the parties and the lawyers informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork that is needed, further requirements, and hearing dates and times.
Property Distribution:Louisiana is a "Community Property" state. Community property is all property that was acquired during the marriage. This property will be divided equally (50-50) by the court if the parties are not able to come to an agreement.
Being a community property state, all separate property like gifts, inheritances, and property owned prior to the marriage will remain with each spouse and then all other property will be split equally. The court will take to consider the needs of each spouse when determining how the property is to be split and each spouse has the right to ask the court to be awarded the marital home. When deciding who should be awarded the marital home, the spouse who will have custody of the children is typically the court favorite. When making this decision regarding the marital home, the court will consider the following factors: the value of the spouse's property, the economic needs and circumstances of each spouse; the needs of the children; and also the court will consider on a case-by-case the contributions each spouse made to the acquisition of the community property s well as future earning potential. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Article: 121)
Spousal Support:Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.
The court will consider all relevant factors in determining the entitlement, amount, and duration of spousal support. These factors may include: (1) The needs of the parties. (2) The income and means of the parties, including the liquidity of such means. (3) The financial obligations of the parties. (4) The earning capacity of the parties. (5) The effect of custody of children upon a party's earning capacity. (6) The time necessary for the claimant to acquire appropriate education, training, or employment. (7) The health and age of the parties. (8) The duration of the marriage. (9) The tax consequences to either or both parties.
Counseling or Mediation Requirements:If there is a custody dispute the court may at its discretion order the parents to seek mediation to attempt to resolve the issue. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Article: 131)
Child Custody:When minor children are involved in a divorce, the Louisiana courts will do everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding the issues involving the children, the court will establish the custody order at its discretion.
When determining a custody award, the court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of the child. Such factors may include: (1) The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child. (2) The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child. 3) The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs. (4) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment. (5) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes. (6) The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child. (7) The mental and physical health of each party. (8) The home, school, and community history of the child. (9) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference. (10) The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party. (11) The distance between the respective residences of the parties. (12) The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Article: 131, 132, 133, 134)
Child Support:Louisiana child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent's income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2's and child support worksheets are available at the courthouse.
Each parent has a responsibility to support a child. If the parents cannot agree, the court will apply the state child support guideline provisions to calculate the appropriate support obligation to be paid. At the courts discretion, it may deviate from the guidelines, by considering the following factors: (1) That the combined adjusted gross income of the parties is not within the amounts shown on the worksheet schedule. (a) If the combined adjusted gross income of the parties is less than the lowest sum shown on the schedule, the court shall determine an amount of child support based on the facts of the case, except that the amount awarded shall not be less than the minimum child support allowed. (b) If the combined adjusted gross income of the parties exceeds the highest sum shown on the schedule, the court shall determine an amount of child support deemed to be appropriate. (2) The legal obligation of a party to support dependents who are not the subject of the action before the court and who are in that party's household. (3) That in a case involving one or more families, consisting of children none of whom live in the household of the noncustodial or non-domiciliary parent but who have existing child support orders. (4) The extraordinary medical expenses of a party, or extraordinary medical expenses for which a party may be responsible, not otherwise taken into consideration under the guidelines. (5) An extraordinary community debt of the parties. (6) The need for immediate and temporary support for a child when a full hearing on the issue of support is pending but cannot be timely held. (7) The permanent or temporary total disability of a spouse to the extent such disability diminishes his present and future earning capacity. (8) Any other consideration which would make application of the guidelines not in the best interest of the child or children or inequitable to the parties. (Louisiana Revised Statutes - Article 9 - Sections: 302)
Copyright Notice: The above synopsis of Louisiana divorce laws is original material which is owned and copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This material has been adapted from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. Violation of this notice will result in immediate legal action.
In Louisiana, child support is calculated using the parents' gross incomes and is based on the Income Shares Model.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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