How Long Do You Have to be Separated to Get a Divorce in Louisiana?

Divorce in LouisianaOnce couples come to the difficult decision divorce is the right answer, they often want to know, “how long will this take?”  As with many areas of the law, the answer to that question is, “It depends.” In almost every divorce, Louisiana requires a waiting period between the time of separation and the time the courts finalize the divorce. Louisiana law has different waiting periods, depending on your situation.

Waiting Periods in Divorce Cases without Cited Fault Grounds

In Louisiana, couples are not forced to allege fault grounds for divorce.  It is enough that the couple is legally separated and living apart for the proscribed period of time – this is referred to as “separation grounds”.  For most couples without children, they may legally divorce after they have been separated for a period of at least six months.  For most couples with children, the couple must live apart for one year or more before they will be granted a divorce.

There is a different waiting period, however, for those who have a covenant marriage.  A covenant marriage requires couples legally separate and live apart for an entire year before courts grant a separation grounds divorce.  For couples with children who have a covenant marriage, they must live apart for a year and a half from the date of the legal separation.

Waiting Periods in Divorce Cases with Fault Grounds Cited

Some couples allege fault in filing for divorce.  There are two different standards, depending on whether the marriage is a covenant marriage or not.  For those couples in a covenant marriage, fault grounds include:

  • Adultery;
  • Felony convictions;
  • Abandonment;
  • Physical abuse of the spouse or children; or
  • Sexual abuse of the spouse or children.

In fault based cases, with the exception of abandonment, there is no extended waiting period for covenant marriages to end.

For regular, non-covenant marriages, grounds for divorce include adultery as well as a felony conviction.  In a divorce with grounds, there is no waiting period for those in a non-covenant marriage.

For both regular and covenant marriages, the parties must prove allegations of adultery.  It is not enough, for example, for one partner to allege adultery.  Nor is it enough for the other spouse to agree they committed adultery.  There must be independent evidence establishing the adultery occurred.

Deciding on How to Approach Divorce

Even in cases where adultery occurred, the couples have choices about how they wish to proceed with their divorce.  Deciding whether or not to proceed with fault grounds may feel like an emotional decision.  However, there are very real legal consequences to both approaches.  For example, courts may consider adultery when making decisions about alimony.  Consequently, determining which approach is best for you and your family should include a discussion with a qualified family law attorney.

If You are Divorcing

If you are divorcing, having an advocate on your side can make all the difference.  At Joubert Law Firm, our family law attorneys are with you every step of the way.  We can inform you as to what to expect, advise you on potential settlement offers,assist you in determining what approach to child custody issues, and determine what approach is best for you and your family, considering all the options available to you.  Contact us for a consultation today at 225-761-3822.  Let us help you and your family.

Additional Reading

What to Do When Your Child Says He Hates You Because of a Divorce

How to Develop a “Child First” Co-Parenting Plan

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