Answering Your Questions About Louisiana Divorce

Most people do not encounter the family law system on a daily basis, so they naturally have many questions about the divorce process, child custody and more.

At the Gusman Law Firm in Metairie, we guide individuals and families throughout southeastern Louisiana through the divorce process and other family law matters. Below are answers to some of the most common divorce questions our attorney receives.

If you don't see your question, contact us at 504-410-7518 to discuss your needs with a skilled family lawyer.

I've heard there's a waiting period for divorce. What is that?

Louisiana enforces a mandatory separation period before granting divorces. If you do not have children, you must live separate and apart from your spouse for 180 days before seeking divorce. If you have minor children, the waiting period increases to 365 days (one year).

Do I need specific grounds to file for divorce?

Unlike other states, Louisiana citizens can choose to pursue a fault-based or no-fault divorce. If you have evidence that your spouse was abusive or cheating on you, you can skip the mandatory waiting period mentioned above and proceed with a fault-based divorce.

What if I'm not married to my child's other parent?

Louisiana child custody laws apply to unmarried parents who split up as well as married parents who divorce. That means you can still seek custody orders and child support as an unmarried, single parent.

What is a common law marriage?

Some states grant legal status to partners who've lived together for many years (usually decades) out of wedlock. This is called a common law marriage. If the couple splits up, each partner may have certain rights to shared property, custody and financial support (alimony), even if they were never married.

Louisiana does not recognize common law marriages, however. If you live with a partner and decide to break up, you will not have rights to certain property unless you have a cohabitation or domestic partnership agreement or some other legally enforceable contract.

What does community property mean?

Community property generally means that everything you bring into and earn during a marriage could be divided between you and your spouse in the event of a divorce. However, you can designate certain assets — like business assets you acquire or investments you secure — as separate property through a separate property agreement like a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. As the terms imply, a prenuptial agreement must be signed before the wedding; a postnuptial agreement can be negotiated and signed after partners get married.

My husband claims my baby isn't his and won't support us. What does the law say about this?

In terms of custody and support, a woman's husband is presumed to be the father of any child who was born during the marriage or within 300 days of divorce. If a man disputes a child's parentage, a simple DNA test for paternity can determine who the child's biological father is so that custody and child support orders can proceed.

My ex-spouse and I worked out a custody agreement on our own. Is it legally enforceable?

The court only enforces agreements drawn up and in compliance with Louisiana laws or the laws of another state. It's fine to negotiate your own agreements or modify them after you break up, but they must be filed properly with the court to be considered enforceable. This is something our attorney can help you with.