Below is a list of topics and frequently asked questions. Click on a topic or question to reveal an explanation.
Please Note: The answers below are general information. Each person's legal issues are unique. do not rely upon these answers if you have particular issues that need to be addressed. A consultation with an attorney will help you know your rights and options.
1. How soon can I be divorced?
Before you can finalize a divorce, you have to live apart from your spouse for six months if you don’t have minor children, or one year if you do have minor children. But, you may resolve other issues while you are waiting.
2. May I get a quicker divorce if my spouse is committing adultery?
Yes, if you have good proof—just admitting an affair is not enough.
3. Do we have to go to court to get a divorce?
No. If the divorce is not contested (in other words, if the parties agree on the issues at hand), you can get a divorce by affidavit (notarized statement) after the Petition for Divorce is filed.
4. What does joint custody mean?
Joint custody means that the children have two parents involved in their lives. It is a legal term that does NOT mean 50/50 physical custody or any other physical custody plan. It does mean that parents are required to discuss major issues (for example, health and education) prior to making decisions affecting the children.
5. What does domiciliary custody mean?
Domiciliary custody usually means that the children live most of the time with one parent. If the parents have joint custody but cannot agree upon a decision affecting the children, then the parent with domiciliary custody has the final say-so.
6. What kind of physical custody plans do the Courts order?
Any time you go to Court, anything can happen. The Court may order a one-week, one-week alternating plan. Or, the Court may name one parent as the custodial parent and the other a visiting parent, for example, every other weekend.
7. May my spouse and I decide on our own custody plan?
Absolutely! You know your children better than a Court will. You and your spouse may design any plan for your children. This plan can be put into writing in a Judgment for a Judge to sign.
8. May I stop my former husband’s visits if he does not pay child support?
No. His custody and visitation rights are not connected with whether he pays child support, or vice versa. The reason is that these are the CHILDREN’s rights to a relationship with a parent and to support from a parent.
9. How is child support set?
Louisiana has child support guidelines, based upon both parents’ gross income.
10. Could I have an example?
If one parent makes $3,000 a month and the other parent (who has three children most of the time) makes $2,000 a month, the combined income is $5,000 a month. The parent with 60% of the total income should pay $847 per month in child support to the other parent.
11. What else may be added into the child support calculation?
Health insurance, day care, and tuition may be added into the calculation.
12. Will there be any child support if each parent has the children half the time?
Probably. If one parent makes more income than the other, the parent with the higher income will owe child support to the other parent. It will be less than if one parent has the children the majority of the time. The child support guidelines have a “shared custody” worksheet that is used to calculate child support.
13. What is Support Enforcement?
This is a Louisiana agency that collects child support. With court approval, it can garnish wages, seize income tax returns, take away licenses, and find parents who aren’t paying child support as ordered.
14. If a mother refuses to allow visits, may the father stop child support?
No. See answer to #8 under the "CUSTODY" heading above.
15. What is spousal support?
It used to be called alimony. There are two types of spousal support: interim periodic spousal support and final periodic spousal support.
16. What is interim periodic spousal support?
This is a transitional amount of money paid by one spouse to help the other spouse get on his/her feet. It’s based upon the style of living of the parties prior to their separation. Fault is not an issue. Interim periodic spousal support can last up to six months after the divorce.
17.What is final periodic spousal support?
This is an amount of money that one spouse would pay the other after divorce for a longer period of time. However, it’s rarely ordered. In order to be eligible, you have to be totally free from fault in causing the break-up of your marriage, in great need, and your former spouse has the ability to pay. There are many factors that are considered so a consultation with a lawyer is needed to explore these.
18. What is a community property regime?
Most Louisiana couples have a system of property and debts that is called a community property regime. This means that all things you and/or your spouse buy and all debts you and/or your spouse incur during the marriage are owned and owed by BOTH of you in EQUAL portions (50/50).
19. What if the property (for example, land, cars, and/or pension plans) or debts (for example, credit cards, student loans, and mortgages) are just in one person’s name?
It doesn’t matter. If the property was obtained and debts incurred during the marriage, they’re community.
20. Is anything considered separate property?
Yes, if someone gave one of you land and it’s in that person’s name only, then it’s separate property. Other examples are items owned already by one person before marriage, or inherited property.
21. When is the community property partitioned?
During or after the divorce process, the two spouses may partition their property and debts voluntarily or by Court order (after a trial). The object is for each person to receive 50% of the net estate (assets less liabilities).
22. May I keep my house?
Yes, if you can adjust the assets and liabilities so that each of you receives 50%. This may mean you’ll have to pay your former spouse an equalization sum (buy-out). But, be careful: this could mean you are overburdened with debt. However, it is an option to consider.
23. If I used my funds from an inheritance to add onto our home, may I get that money back?
This is called a reimbursement claim. If you have good proof, it is possible to get ½ of these funds back from you.
24. How do we get a divorce without going to Court?
While the paperwork has to be filed in Court, there are several processes that keep you and your family from “fighting it out” in Court. You can do an uncontested, negotiated, mediated, or collaborative divorce. See " "Alternatives to Court" for explanations of each.
25. May we use the same lawyer?
No. This violates the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct. One lawyer may not advise both clients. However, it is possible for one of you to have an attorney and the other to be unrepresented. The attorney should not ever meet with the unrepresented person.