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Legal Information: Louisiana

Louisiana Divorce

Laws current as of
February 15, 2019

This section has basic information about divorce in Louisiana, including the grounds to get a divorce and the residency requirements that must be met to file for a divorce in Louisiana. You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.

What are the residency requirements for divorce in Louisiana?

You can file for divorce in Louisiana if, at the time of filing, one or both of the spouses are “domiciled” in Louisiana.1 The law assumes that a person is “domiciled” in Louisiana if s/he has established and maintained a residence there for at least six months.2 The divorce must be filed in a parish where either party is domiciled, or in the parish where you were domiciled together in the marital home.3

1 LA Code Civ Pro 10(A)(7)
2 LA Code Civ Pro 10(B)
3 LA Code Civ Pro 3941(A)

What are the grounds for divorce in Louisiana?

Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for a divorce. There are no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce in Louisiana.

A judge can grant a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have lived separate and apart continuously for at least:

  • 180 days if you and your spouse do not have a child together under 18 years old; or
  • 365 days if you and your spouse do have a child together under 18 years old.1

A judge can grant a fault-based divorce if:

  1. your spouse has committed adultery;
  2. your spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment with hard labor;
  3. your spouse physically or sexually abused you or your child/step-child during the marriage (it does not matter if the spouse was criminally charged with the abuse); or
  4. a criminal or civil protective order or injunction was issued during your marriage against your spouse to protect you or your child/step-child from abuse.2

Note: If you have a covenant marriage, different laws apply. Please talk to a lawyer about filing for a divorce from a covenant marriage.

1 LA Code Civ Pro 103(1); 103.1
2 LA Code Civ Pro 103

Can I get spousal support?

Spousal support (also known as alimony) is financial support paid by or to your spouse and can be awarded during the divorce (“interim support”) and/or when a divorce is granted. To get interim periodic support or final periodic support, the judge must believe that you are in need of support and not “at fault” for the divorce. To get final periodic support, the judge must also consider your spouse’s ability to pay support.1 The judge will assume that you should be granted final periodic support if:

  • the judge determines that your spouse committed domestic abuse against you, your child, or your spouse's child; or
  • you were granted a judgment of divorce based on one of the four fault-based grounds explained in What are the grounds for divorce in Louisiana?2

When deciding the amount of support that you will get and for how long you will receive support, the judge will consider all relevant factors, including:

  1. the income and finances of each spouse;
  2. the financial obligations of each spouse, including any interim support that is ordered or a final child support obligation;
  3. how much each spouse is capable of earning, including the effect that having custody of children has upon a spouse’s earning capacity;
  4. the time necessary for you to get appropriate education, training, or employment;
  5. the health and age of the parties;
  6. the length of the marriage;
  7. the tax consequences to each spouse; and
  8. if your spouse committed domestic abuse against you or your child (or against your spouse's child), the judge will consider:
    • the effect of such abuse; and
    • the length of time that the abuse went on (it doesn’t matter if your spouse was criminally charged for the domestic violence).3 Note: To determine if your spouse committed domestic abuse against you, the judge will consider any criminal convictions for an offense committed against you during the marriage. If there are no such convictions, the judge can order an evaluation of both parties by an independent mental health professional who is an expert in the field of domestic abuse to help determine if there was abuse and the nature of the abuse.4

Your interim or final periodic spousal support will end if:

  • either spouse dies;
  • you remarry; or
  • if there is a judicial determination that you live (“cohabitate”) with someone else in a way similar to a married couple.5

1 LA Code Civ Pro 111; 112(A)
2 LA Code Civ Pro 112(C)
3 LA Code Civ Pro 112(B)
4 LA R.S. 9:327
5 LA Code Civ Pro 115

How much spousal support can I get?

The amount of support you will receive cannot be greater than 1/3 of your spouse’s net income unless either of the following are true:

  1. the judge determines that your spouse committed domestic abuse against you, your child, or your spouse's child; or
  2. you were granted a judgment of divorce based on either of these fault-based grounds:
    • ​your spouse physically or sexually abused you, your child, or your spouse's child during the marriage (it does not matter if the spouse was criminally charged with the abuse); or
    • a criminal or civil protective order or injunction was issued during your marriage against your spouse to protect you, your child, or your spouse's child from abuse.1

In either of these two scenarios, you can receive a lump sum that is greater than one-third of your spouse's net income.2

1 LA Code Civ Pro 112(D); 103
2 LA Code Civ Pro 112(D)

What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?

While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:

  • First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state in which you wish to file.
  • Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
  • Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse.
  • Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, he will then have the opportunity to file papers telling his side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” In this case, you will have to attend a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, he should sign the papers and send them back to you and/or the court. This is called an “uncontested divorce.” If a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. You should speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers the divorce papers before you can continue with the divorce.
  • Fifth, if there is property that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, you will have to work that out in an out-of-court settlement, or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.

Where can I find additional information about divorce?

Louisiana State Bar Association has a divorce brochure with information on spousal support and one with information on community property.

LawHelp.org provides:

WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information on their sites. We provide these links for your information only.