The state of Louisiana has unique laws regarding divorce. While in some other states, it is relatively simple to say you no longer want to be married, that is not the case for Louisiana residents. This is particularly true if you have children together. You see, marriage is more than just a way to say I Love You. It is a binding legal contract, one that you are now attempting to break. There’s a lot to be done, much more than simply saying “Nevermind.”
One of the first things to understand if you’re ready to be divorced is that the state of Louisiana requires a separation period. The State of Louisiana requires divorcing spouses to live separately for 180 days if there are no children from the marriage. If the couple has children, they must live apart for at least one year before a divorce will be granted. The good news is that Louisiana allows couples to divorce based on the fact that they are living separate and apart, so there is no need to have grounds for divorce and make accusations of one another.
However, you may find you do want to state your reason for divorcing if you have one. This is because it will affect the judge’s decision regarding child custody. Moral fitness as it relates to the welfare of the child will be taken into consideration and treated very seriously. A parent who has been found guilty of physically or sexually abusing the children will not be given custody and may be barred from any type of visitation altogether. The family court is not likely to award alimony to the spouse who deserted the family by committing adultery. Keep in mind that in fault-based divorces, the spouses must live separately for a continuous period of two years before a final divorce decree will be issued.
What about child custody before the divorce is finalized? After all, you’re talking about a year or two in between moving out and finally being legally free. Won’t you need a visitation schedule and child support amount set up during this time? Yes! In most cases, family courts want to make sure that both parents remain an active part of their children’s lives, as long as it is in the best interests of the child. They typically favor joint custody, unless one parent poses a danger to the minor child. This ruling will be temporary during your separation period. The judge may make changes to the schedule or child support amount in the final divorce decree or it may stay the same if it works for all parties involved.
Many divorcing spouses are unable to agree on much of anything, especially something as important as child custody. If this occurs, you will proceed to trial where a judge will divide any property, award alimony, and set the child support obligation. The court will also decide what is in the best interests of the children when awarding custody.
One thing is for sure, you don’t want to try to figure all of this out on your own. Bring in the expert family lawyers at Ellen Cronin Badeaux to represent you during this trying time.