Louisiana Divorce

This is an overview of Louisiana divorce laws and available resources. You can locate experienced attorneys and other divorce professionals, find various do it yourself divorce options, access the basic child support obligation schedule and calculator, as well as support groups and domestic violence resources. 

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Louisiana Divorce Law Summary

By WomansDivorce 

DIVORCE & ANNULMENT RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Before filing for divorce or annulment in Louisiana, a person needs to have is resided in a parish within this state for six months. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - CCP 10)

DIVORCE GROUNDS: Excluding covenant marriages, a divorce may be granted on the following grounds if the petitioner can prove:

  1. The parties have continuously lived apart and without reconciling for a minimum of 180 days prior to filing the divorce petition if:
     - - there are no minor children of the marriage;
     - - the other parent physically or sexually abused a child of the marriage or the spouse filing for divorce; or
    - - a protective order has been issued against the other party for the protection from abuse of the spouse who filed for divorce or a child of one of the spouses.
  2. The parties have continuously lived in different homes without intention of resuming marital relations for a minimum of 365 days before filing for divorce if they have children together who are still minors; 
  3. The other party committed adultery; or  
  4. The other spouse is a convicted felon sentenced to hard labor in prison or death. (Louisiana Civil Code - Art. 103 and 103.1)

A divorce may be granted for a covenant marriage if the petitioner can prove:

  1. The other party committed adultery;
  2. The other party is a convicted felon sentenced to hard labor in prison or death;
  3. The other party has deserted the marital home and has refused to return for at least 1 year;
  4. The other parent sexually or physically abused a child of either spouse or the spouse filing for divorce;
  5. The parties have continuously lived separately and apart for at least 2 years without reconciling;
  6. The parties have continuously lived separately and apart, without reconciling, for at least 1 year after a judgment of separation from bed and board has been signed, and abuse against a child or the spouse has occurred. This time limit extends to a year and a half if there has been no abuse. (Louisiana Revised Statutes - RS 9:307)

EXTRA REQUIREMENTS FOR PARENTS OF MINOR CHILDREN: In Louisiana, the court may require parents of minor children to participate in a court-accepted program or seminar for divorcing parents. These classes help educate parents about how to minimize the effects of divorce and separation on their children, focusing on their developmental needs of children and fostering the child's emotional health. (RS 9:306 - Louisiana Revised Statutes) 

JUDGMENT OF SEPARATION OF PROPERTY: In Louisiana, only couples in a covenant marriage are eligible for a legal separation, which would address custody, support and property issues. For couples who aren't in a covenant marriage, a spouse may obtain a judgment ordering the separation of property in the following situations: 

  • When a spouse's interest in the community property is in danger of being diminished by the other spouse's neglect, fault, fraud, or incompetence, or by the other spouse's lack of order and management in his or her affairs.
  • If a spouse is missing.
  • When the spouses have continuously lived apart without any intention of resuming marital relations for at least 6 months.
  • When the parties have lived separately without reconciling for a minimum of 30 days before the filing for a divorce. (Louisiana Civil Code - Art. 2374)

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION: Louisiana is considered a community property state, meaning that all property, assets, and debts which were acquired while the couple were married will be divided equally by the court if the couple is unable to reach their own property settlement agreement.

Property and assets acquired prior to the marriage remain that spouse's separate property, except that any increase in value during the marriage will be deemed community property. Inheritances, gifts, and damages from lawsuits are also a spouse's separate property, as well as any assets resulting from a voluntary partition of the community property while married.

It is also important to note that both spouses are jointly liable for any debts acquired during the marriage, unless the debt was not for the common interest of the marriage or for the interest of the other spouse. (Louisiana Civil Code - Articles 2336 through 2363)

ALIMONY / SPOUSAL SUPPORT: Alimony is only awarded to a spouse who is free from fault prior to filing for a divorce, and payments will not exceed 1/3 of the obligated spouse's net income. When determining the amount of support awarded, the court will consider:

  • How long the marriage lasted.
  • The health and age of both spouses.
  • The income and assets of both spouses, as well as their financial obligations.
  • The earning potential of both spouses.
  • Time needed for the dependent spouse to become employed or receive the training and education necessary to get a job.
  • How custody would affect a spouse's earning potential.
  • The tax consequences of awarding alimony.

Alimony may be modified due to a substantial and material change in circumstances, and will be terminated if the dependent spouse remarries or either spouse dies. Alimony may also be terminated if the court finds the dependent spouse is living together with someone in the same manner as people who are married. (Louisiana Civil Code - Art. 112 through 115)

SPOUSE'S NAME: As part of the divorce petition, a woman may request the restoration of her maiden name, a name used at the time the marriage occurred, or the surname of her minor children. (Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure - Art. 3947)

CHILD CUSTODY: When parents cannot mutually agree on custody arrangements, the court shall determine custody based on the best interests of the minor children. All factors which would be relevant in making this determination will be considered, including:

  • The emotional attachment and loving bond the child has with each parent.
  • The capability and likelihood of each parent to love, nurture, and give spiritual guidance while continuing to nurture and support the child's education.
  • The capability and likelihood of each parent to provide for the child's medical and material needs.
  • The preferences of the child, if the child is old enough to express such a preference.
  • The stability of the child's home environment, how long the child lived there, and the desire to maintain continuity of the setting.
  • The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community.
  • The likelihood of permanence of the proposed custodial residence.
  • Each parent's physical and mental health.
  • Each parent's involvement in the child's care and raising.
  • Each parent's moral fitness, to the degree it impacts the child's well-being.
  • The inclination and capacity of each parent to respect and encourage the continuing bond the child has with other parent.
  • How far the parents will live apart from each other. (Louisiana Civil Code - Articles 132 and 134)

CHILD SUPPORT: Louisiana utilizes the "Income Shares Model" for determining child support in an effort to simulate what would be spent on children in intact families. In intact families, each parent's contribution to the total earning of the household represents his or her relative share of the expenses for the family. The same principle of income sharing is utilized when determining each parent's share of the child support amount. The court uses the total adjusted gross income of both parties and the number of children involved in the proceeding to establish the amount of support using the child support schedule.

The court may also require one of the parents to provide health insurance for any child of the marriage. The cost of the premiums for such coverage, any extraordinary medical or other expenses, and the total amount of child care costs shall be added to the basic child support obligation.

When the parents have a joint custody order that is not shared custody, the court considers the amount of time the child spends with the non-custodial parent as a basis for adjustment to the child support owed during that period of time. If the parents share custody for approximately equal amounts of time, the monthly amount of support is multiplied by 1 1/2 and then proportionally divided between the parents according to their individual adjusted gross income. This amount is then multiplied by the actual percentage of time the child resides with each parent, deducting each parent's proportional share of job-related child care expenses, costs of medical insurance for the child, and any uncovered medical costs, or other extraordinary expenses. Whichever parent's support obligation is larger will pay the difference to the other parent. (LA Revised Statutes - RS 9:315 through 315.19] 

General Family Law and Divorce Information from LawHelp.org

Parenting Classes

Seminar for Divorcing Parents 

Divorcing parents in Louisiana are required to complete an educational class on effective parenting during and after divorce before their decree will be finalized. The Seventh Judicial Administrative District offers these classes for parents in Douglas, Haralson, Paulding and Polk counties. Call 770-387-4819 or click the link above for more information about the classes, times, and locations.

Legal Representation

Need a Divorce Lawyer? Find the right lawyer for you. Confidentially present your case information to find pre-screened local attorneys who are willing to take your case.

Domestic Abuse Info

Hotlines and Shelters Statewide 

Do It Yourself Services

Online Divorce - Complete your uncontested divorce papers online with this easy to use system. Complete the questionnaire to customize your paperwork to your unique situation. You'll be able to make as many changes as needed and print your documents when everything is completed. You'll also get step-by-step filing instructions and support manuals.