How should I prepare for a divorce?
You have already done the first step: researching online and reviewing the material on this site. In addition, you should consider the following steps:If you have joint accounts, you should withdraw half of the money from those accounts and put it in a separate account that you control. This way, you will be able to support yourself through the divorce process.

If you are considering moving out of the family house, you will need to find a place to live. Divorce is expensive. The added cost of setting up an entirely separate household can literally "break the bank." To save money, you could live with a relative for a period of time until you figure out what will happen with your finances.

Gather all of your important documents together and make copies of them so that your spouse can have them as well. These documents include all financial documents, bank statements, credit card statements, brokerage account statements, or any other document related to your finances. This would include insurance policies. Courts require you to submit tax returns, so make sure that you have copies of your tax returns going back at least two years, preferably five. Some courts also require proof of income, so you may want to make copies of your most recent pay stubs.

If you have a will, you should revise it to reflect that you may not want certain assets to go to your ex or their family. We do this as a free service to all of our clients.

Finally, close all of your joint credit cards in writing. This will prevent your spouse from running up huge credit card balances while you are going through the divorce process.

What affect will divorce have on my kids?
Divorce is often a difficult transition process. One great resource available in many parishes is a parenting class. The parenting class will help all members of the family, husband, wife, and kids, understand and cope with the divorce process. We have found these parenting classes to be a fantastic resource and very helpful especially to the children in coping with the divorce process. Lafayette Parish requires that families attend these parenting classes. But even in places where they’re not required, we strongly recommend that our clients attend these parenting classes. The instructors will explain to the children that the divorce is not their fault. This is the primary thing you want your children to know: it’s not their fault. It will be more helpful coming from an authoritative figure, such as a teacher, rather than from the parents themselves. These classes are relatively cheap ($25.00 per person who goes to the course).
Should I let my spouse visit the kids before getting a court order?

This is a very common question. Our answer is that it is best for both parties to work together and make the divorce process, including visitation, as easy for the children as possible. Remember, the courts are putting the kids first. Your concerns as a spouse are inconsequential compared to the welfare of your children. What this means is that it is best for you as a spouse to work with your partner with regards to visitation. Be reasonable. We know that there are often very strong emotions involved. You might not want to talk to your spouse, you might not want to see your spouse, and you certainly don’t want to do anything to make your spouse’s life easier. But for the sake of your children, you need to put this aside. We all know that it is very important for children to have a relationship with both their father and their mother. Accordingly, go out of your way to do what you can and encourage a relationship between your kids and your spouse. If this means letting your spouse have visitation before the court decides what the arrangements are going to be, so be it. Remember, put your kids first.

Now, there is one exception to this rule. If you have a legitimate, real fear that your spouse might abuse your children, you need to seek a protective order immediately. There are very few true emergencies in divorce cases, but this is one of them. Either you by yourself or with the assistance of an attorney should petition the court and ask for a restraining order prohibiting your spouse from seeing the kids. Know that you need strong grounds for this protective order.

Can my spouse take my kids away?

The basic answer to this question is, unless you are abusive or a pedophile, no. We can’t tell you how often a husband who is emotionally abusive to a wife, and who also earns all of the income in the family, will threaten his wife with taking the kids away. The husband will say that the courts will look at his income and say that the kids are better off with him, because he earns more money. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Courts are smarter than this. They realize that kids need love and affection, not money. So who earns the most income in the family, who the breadwinner is, is really irrelevant in the court’s decision as to who the kids should stay with. In fact, courts most often like the parents to share custody. This shared custody can take any number of forms. For example, the wife could have the kids Monday and Tuesday, the husband could have the kids Wednesday and Thursday, and the parents could split alternate weekends. If the husband works a lot, the wife might have the kids during the week, and the husband would have weekend visitation. The variation on this visitation schedule is vast. Typically, the parties try to agree on this and make sure that it is best for everybody. If the parties cannot agree on it, the court will listen to everybody and try to do the right thing. But the bottom line is, unless you are a really bad person, your spouse cannot take your kids away.

Can I get a divorce if my spouse lives in another state?
The bottom line answer to this is you can. Louisiana law allows any of its residents to get a divorce in Louisiana. To be a resident of Louisiana really depends upon your intent. This means that if you can show that you have lived in Louisiana for any period of time (even a few months is sometimes long enough), you can show that you vote in Louisiana, if you have a driver’s license, and other similar proof, then you can get a divorce in Louisiana. Your spouse cannot prevent the Louisiana divorce by arguing that they've never set foot in Louisiana. It really doesn’t matter to Louisiana courts. The marriage goes with either spouse. So if you reside in Louisiana, then the marriage is in Louisiana and your spouse can get a divorce here.

What is the process?
It starts by filing a petition for divorce. This document tells the court what you want. It will also contain facts, 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 you file your petition, the court will take numerous steps to decide the issue set forth in your petition. Different courts do this differently. For example, in Lafayette 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 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. 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.

Another 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.

What does living "separate and apart" mean?
“Living separate and apart” is a precondition for a no-fault divorce and must be continuous for the period required (365 days if you have children of the marriage or 180 days if there are no children of the marriage). The idea of “living separate and apart” is that your marriage has broken down to the point that you have discontinued the ordinary and usual relations that exist between married persons, including intercourse. Usually  this is evidenced when one party moves out of the marital home; sometimes, however, this is not financially viable and one party will simply move into another room within the same house. Ultimately, a court will examine the nature of the relationship between the parties with residence as only one factor to be considered. In short, the essential idea is not separate roofs but separate lives.

What types of divorce are there?
Divorce terminates the marriage between two individuals. Once divorced, your right to marry someone else is restored. In Louisiana, this process also involves the division of marital assets and debts ("community property") and determines the care and custody of the children.

Louisiana allows for no-fault divorce in which the spouses are not required to prove that the other caused the breakdown of the marriage. This means that either you or your spouse may obtain a divorce, even if one of you does not consent to the divorce. Louisiana also allows for fault-based divorces, such as when one party has suffered from adultery.

No-fault divorces

Article 102 ("No-Fault Divorce--Separation after Service")
If you have no minor children from marriage, a divorce shall be granted upon motion of a spouse when either spouse has filed a petition for divorce and upon proof that 180 days have elapsed from the service of the petition, or from the execution of written waiver of the service, and that the spouses have lived separate and apart continuously for at least 180 days prior to the filing of the rule to show cause.

If you do have minor children from marriage, a divorce shall be granted upon motion of a spouse when either spouse has filed a petition for divorce and upon proof that 365 days have elapsed from the service of the petition, or from the execution of written waiver of the service, and that the spouses have lived separate and apart continuously for at least 365 days prior to the filing of the rule to show cause.

Article 103 ("No-Fault Divorce--Separation prior to filing Petition")
If you have no minor children from marriage, a divorce shall be granted upon motion of a spouse when either spouse has filed a petition for divorce and upon proof that the parties have been living separate and apart at least 180 days before filing the petition.

If you do have minor children from marriage, a divorce shall be granted upon motion of a spouse when either spouse has filed a petition for divorce and upon proof that the parties have been living separate and apart at least 365 days before filing the petition.

Fault-based divorces

Article 103(2) ("Immediate Adultery Divorce")
Upon proof at trial that adultery was committed, divorce is immediate. Physical separation not required.

Article 103(3) ("Immediate Felony-Conviction Divorce")
Spouse must be convicted of felony and must be sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor. Physical separation not required.






At the Lafayette, Louisiana, offices of Nathan G. Frazier, we represent clients throughout Abbeville, Breaux Bridge, Crowley, New Iberia, Opelousas, St. Martinville, Lafayette Parish, Arcadia Parish, Iberia Parish, St. Martin Parish, St. Landry Parish and Vermillion Parish, Louisiana.