Louisiana Civil Code Article 103 allows couples who have been living apart for specific periods of time to file a divorce petition and get a final Judgment of Divorce signed by the court in a relatively short period of time. (Potentially within a month or so) Article 103 allows for "no fault" and "fault" based divorces.
The no-fault 103 divorce allows couples who have already lived apart for 6 months (if there are no minor children) or 12 months (if there are minor children) to have their divorce finalized providing all required documents have been filed and approved by the court.
There are also two types of "fault" based divorces which are also considered under Civil Code 103, one for spousal adultery and one for those who are convicted of a felony and serving a life sentence or were sentenced to hard labor. Under these two fault-based options, there is no waiting period for filing for divorce whether there are children or not.
However, there are some things that you need to be aware of when you are separated in Louisiana but have not filed for divorce.
- Debts - assuming you and your spouse have been living separately, chances are you may have incurred some debt during that time. Louisiana is a community property state and both spouses may be equally liable for the debt at least until the point when the Petition for Divorce is filed ( This can be complex and is certainly worthy of getting advice from an attorney)
- Assets - assets that were obtained by either spouse before an actual Petition for Divorce is file will likely be considered community property. Therefore, an agreement must be reached about the division of those assets, preferably between the two parties.
- If you choose to wait the required time period before filing you need to understand that all assets and debts incurred while waiting are likely going to be community property.
Children of the marriage in a 103 Divorce
Couples who had children during their marriage have an extended waiting period of 12 months except in the case of "at fault" divorces. Louisiana Civil Code Article 134 governs how courts will view child custody, though in most Divorce 103 cases, if the parents have agreed on custody the court will review the agreement and in most cases it will be approved as is.
Regardless of whether you are newly separated or you and your spouse have been separated for an extended period of time, there are many things to consider when filing for divorce. Contacting a Baton Rouge divorce lawyer can help the process along by making sure you have filed all the needed documents and met all the notification requirements.
Louisiana residents who are uncertain whether they have met the requirements for a 103 divorce should consider contacting Beau Layfield. Since we focus a lot of our energy on family law, we can work with you make your divorce as stress-free as possible.