DIVORCE LAW- LOUISIANA
The divorce law in Louisiana is governed by the Louisiana Revised Statute, Code Title V.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE OR SEPARATION FROM BED AND BOARD IN A COVENANT MARRIAGE
A spouse to a covenant marriage may obtain a judgment of divorce only upon proof of any of the following:
- The other spouse has committed adultery.
- The other spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor.
- The other spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for a period of one year and constantly refuses to return.
- The other spouse has physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses.
- The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for a period of two years.
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.
No- Fault Grounds
That a spouse desires a divorce is a grounds for divorce in Louisiana. There are no requirements to show marital breakdown, fault, living separate and apart, or any other basis for a divorce.
The new no-fault divorce grounds in Louisiana are very simplified. No answer need be made by a respondent to a Petition for Divorce filed in Louisiana. In order to obtain a final Judgment of Divorce, a motion entitled "Rule to Show Cause" must be filed with the court. However, each judicial district in Louisiana may have specific individual rules pertaining to divorce actions.
After filing of the petition, the divorce will be granted after a period of 180 days has elapsed from the filing date and if the spouses have lived separate and apart since the filing of the divorce petition. Reconciliation is essentially the only defense to a divorce sought on these grounds.
A spouse's separate property, consisting of property acquired prior to the marriage and property acquired by gift or inheritance, is awarded to that spouse. The community property is divided equally between the spouses.
Personal property necessary for the safety and well-being of the spouse filing for divorce and any children in his or her custody (including food, eating utensils, clothing, and any other items necessary for their safety and well-being) will be awarded to the spouse filing. Either spouse may ask the court for use and occupancy of the family residence pending the final division of the community property.
The court bases the temporary award of the family residence on the following factors:
- the value of each spouse's personal property;
- the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective; and
needs of the children. In addition, a spouse may be awarded a sum of money for his or her financial contributions made during a marriage to the education or training of a spouse that increased the other spouse's earning capacity.
ALIMONY AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT
During the divorce proceeding, either spouse may be ordered to pay temporary alimony. Permanent periodic alimony may be granted to the spouse who is without fault. Such alimony shall not exceed one-third of the other spouse's income.
The factors that may be considered by the court before awarding spousal support are:
- the effect of child custody on the spouse's earning capacity;
- the time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment;
- the income, means, and assets of the spouses and the liquidity of the assets;
- the comparative financial obligations of the spouses;
- the age and health of the spouses;
- the needs of the parties;
- the earning capacity of the parties;
- the duration of the marriage;
- the tax consequences of the parties; and
any other relevant circumstances.
Permanent alimony may be revoked upon remarriage or cohabitation.
Joint or sole custody is awarded based on the best interests of the child. The following order of preference is established:
- to both parents;
- to either parent [without regard to race or sex of the parents];
- to the person or persons with whom the child has been living; or
to any other person that the court feels suitable and able to provide an adequate and stable environment for the child.
Unless shown otherwise or unless the parents agree otherwise, joint custody is presumed to be in the best interests of the child and will be awarded based on the following factors:
- physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child;
- capability and desire of each parent to meet the child's needs;
- preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity;
- the love and affection existing between the child and each parent;
- the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- the desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving frequent relationship between the child and the other parent;
- the wishes of the parents;
- the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- the permanence as a family unit of the existing or proposed custodial home;
- the distance between the poten-tial residences;
- the moral fitness of the parents; and
any other relevant factor that the court may deem fit in the interest of justice.
The conduct of the proposed guardian is to be considered only as it bears on his or her relationship with the child. The parents must submit a plan for joint custody which designates:
- the child's residence;
- the rights of access and communication between the parents and child; and
child support amounts.
A parent not granted custody is entitled to visitation rights unless that parent has subjected the child to physical or sexual abuse. The court may order the parents to attend a court-approved parenting seminar.
Both parents are obligated to support any children of a marriage. The factors for consideration listed in the statute are:
- the needs of the child and
- the actual resources of each parent. In addition, Louisiana has adopted detailed Child Support Guideline provisions which are contained in the statute. These guidelines are presumed to be correct, unless one of the following factors make the guidelines unjust or not in the best interests of the child:
- extraordinary medical expenses of the child or parent responsible for support payments;
- the permanent or temporary total disability of the parent responsible for support;
- the need for immediate or temporary support;
- an extraordinary community debt of the parents;
- that the combined income of the parents is less than that in the guideline charts; and
- any other relevant consideration.