What is the divorce process in Louisiana?

What is the divorce process?

The first step in filing a divorce is to file the petition for divorce.  This is basically a document that you send to the court telling the court what you want.  You have to tell the court certain factual information, such as when you were married, whether you had kids, how old the kids are, and when you separated.  You also have to ask for what you want in the divorce.  For example, if you want spousal support, you need to ask for it.  If you want child support, you need to ask for it.  If you want a certain type of visitation or custody, you need to ask for that as well.  All this document does is put the court on notice of the fact that you want a divorce and the other issues involved in the case.

After that, the court will take numerous steps to decide the issue set forth in your petition.  Different courts do this differently.  For example, in Jefferson Parish, they use hearing officers.  The hearing officer will decide how much spousal support you receive and how much child support you receive.  If you disagree with the hearing officer, you can always appeal to a judge.  In other courts, the judge will decide all of these issues himself or herself.  Once issues such as spousal support, child support, custody, and visitation are  resolved, you are ready to actually be divorced.  If you have children, you must be separated for one year before you can be divorced.  However, if you have already been separated more than a year before you actually file for divorce, you can ask for what is known as a 103 divorce.  This basically means that you have already been separated for a year and you are ready to get divorced quickly.  If you have not been separated for a year with kids, then you need to file a 102 divorce (unless you can prove adultery, which is the subject of another lesson).  In a 102 divorce, you must wait the full year before you could ask the court to sign a judgment saying you are officially divorced.

An additional issue that will have to be decided is the property settlement.  This can be done a number of ways.  The parties can agree on how to divide the property.  Or, the parties can ask the court to decide.  As with most things, it is better if the parties can agree on this amongst themselves.