Divorce in Louisiana

January and February have the highest divorce rates. This may be due to heightened tempers caused by too much time with the family, or financial strains taking the final blow due to holiday spending. Some people may choose to wait until the new year for tax purposes. Regardless of the cause, January is a high time for divorces across the country.
Divorces can be difficult and confusing; but they do not always have to be.  In many cases, if both spouses can agree on issues like property settlement and payments of debts, the process can go smoothly and without the need for attorneys.  There are many avenues available for couples seeking to terminate their marriage, and it may be worth seeking legal advice at the onset to ensure the road chosen is the best for your particular situation.   When spouses begin living in separate residence, it is an important time to consider filing for divorce. 
In Louisiana, there is generally no such thing as an immediate divorce.  Louisiana requires a “cooling off” period, in which spouses must live separate and apart for a certain amount of time.  If the couple has minor children, the required time to live separate and apart is 365 days—180 days if there are no minor children.  That period begins when a spouse actually intents to end the marriage, and there is an actual physical separation.  The court will require proof the parties have lived separate and apart for the required amount of time before granting a divorce. 
The quickest way to obtain a divorce is often to file the petition for divorce after the spouses have lived separate and apart for the required amount of time.  If this is the case, the defendant spouse can waive citation and service. He or she can also make a sworn statement accepting service and waiving formal citation, all legal delays, and notice of and appearing at trial, and a judgment of default may be obtained the same day the affidavit or waiver is filed.  The default judgment will become final without need of a court hearing after two days, unless ordered by the court. 

If the parties have not lived separate and apart for the required time before filing for divorce, they must do so after the divorce petition is filed.  In this case, the time period begins to run on the date the petition is served on the other spouse, the date the other spouse executes a written waiver of service, or the date the spouses begin living separate and apart–whichever is later.  After the time period has pasted, either party may move for divorce.

Written By: Carmen Ryland
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