Louisiana Court Records
What are Louisiana Divorce Records?
Divorce records in Louisiana are records that contain details of divorce proceedings and how the divorce was finalized. These can be court or vital records that are dispensed by the state for the purpose of documentation and maintenance. As of 2018, there were 7.6 divorces for every 1,000 women above the age of 15 years in Louisiana.
Louisiana allows both no-fault and fault-based divorces subject to the verdict of the judge. The court may permit a no-fault divorce if the couples meet the following conditions;
- Both parties have stayed apart consistently for a minimum of 180 days, and do not have a child that is under 18 years old.
- Both parties have stayed apart consistently for a minimum of 365 days, and they have a child under 18 years old.
Fault-based divorce grounds for divorce in Louisiana include;
- One of the spouses physically or sexually assaulted the other spouse or their child or step-child in the course of the marriage.
- The court issued a civil or criminal protective order against an abusive spouse.
- One of the spouses has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to long term imprisonment with hard labor or death.
- One of the spouses has committed adultery.
- The spouses have been living separate and apart continuously for the requisite period or more on the date the petition is filed.
In Louisiana, divorce proceedings may end in any of these ways:
- Legal separation
Legal separation is only applicable to covenant marriages. In a legal separation, one of the couples moves out, and the court decides on child custody, child support, division of assets, and alimony. However, in the real sense, the marriage is not terminated. Hence, the spouses are also not allowed to remarry until the legal separation is modified into an actual divorce.
In an annulment, the court declares that the marriage is null. In Louisiana, the two types of annulment are an “absolutely null marriage,” which is null from the date of marriage, and a “relatively null marriage,” which is legal until a judge declares it null. Common reasons for annulment include bigamy, incest, fraud, duress, and coercion.
Divorce breaks all initial legal bonds of marriage, which means that both parties no longer have any conjugal rights or duties to each other. Each spouse goes their separate ways after a divorce; all assets and debts are divided, child custody and alimony issues are sorted.
A divorce is finalized once the judge signs the judgment. This judgment represents the divorce decree, and it is maintained by the Clerk of Court where the divorce was granted. In Louisiana, divorce takes a minimum of 30 days to be finalized. This period may extend to up to 90 days, depending on the caseload of the court.
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.
Are Divorce Records Public In Louisiana?
Court proceedings are deemed public events; hence information garnered during the proceedings is public property. Divorces are subject to court proceedings; therefore, the documents used or submitted at the trial become public records. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), all citizens are allowed to view or copy such public records. Which means Louisiana divorce records are open to the public.
While the public may view these records from the Clerk of Court office in the Parish where the divorce occurred, the Judgment of Divorce (divorce decree) is only released to eligible persons. These eligible individuals include the parties named on the record, legal representatives of the parties, parents of the couple, and other adult direct relatives of the parties.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What Are The Types Of Divorce Records Available In Louisiana?
In Louisiana, divorce decrees are the only certified divorce records available to authorized members of the public. A divorce decree is a court document that reflects the final decree signed by a judge dissolving a marriage union. It records in detail the terms and conditions of the divorce incorporating the division of assets and debts, financial responsibilities, child custody, alimony, and other necessary information. Louisiana divorce decree is a certified divorce record that is only available to the couple and the attorneys involved in the divorce proceedings.
However, members of the public may access divorce court proceedings as made available along with other court case information. These court records are made available electronically on some courthouse web portals or via the public computer terminal at the Clerk of Court office in the Parish where the divorce was finalized. For example, the public may search records of divorce (along with other civil court records) finalized in East Baton Rouge or Jefferson Parish via the Clerks of Court websites.
How Do I Get Divorce Records In Louisiana?
Generally, eligible persons may obtain divorce records in Louisiana from the office of the Clerk of Court in the Parish where the divorce was filed. The process of accessing divorce records may vary from Parish to Parish. In most parishes, requestors submit a completed application form or a written request specifying;
- The names of the couple
- The divorce certificate number
- The year of the divorce
- The court case file number.
Eligible persons may access a divorce decree in one of the following ways;
- In-person request from the Clerk of Court in the Parish where the divorce was filed
- Mail-in request to the Office of the Clerk of Court in the Parish where the divorce was filed
- View the electronic copies of available divorce records at the public access station at the Parish where the divorce was filed.
A requestor may be required to pay a fee for copies of the divorce record. The fee may vary depending on the type of divorce records (certified or informational). Extra charges will also apply if the requestor seeks to obtain additional original copies. The mode of request also determines the total fee that is charged for the records. For instance, a ‘RUSH’ order costs more than a regular request.
Requestors may use the ‘Select Parish or Court’ option on the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association website to locate a parish court.
Who Can Obtain Divorce Records In Louisiana?
Primarily, informational copies in Louisiana are open to the general public. Certified copies may be accessed by specified persons that are eligible according to the law. They include;
- Both parties involved in the divorce (the couple)
- Parents of the couple
- Grandparents of the couple
- Adult siblings of the couple
- Adult children of the couple
- A legal representative of either spouse
Are Louisiana Divorce Records Available Online?
Louisiana government or courts do not provide online access or request to the state’s divorce records. As the sole repository of divorce records in the state, Louisiana courts only make certified divorce records available to authorized persons. However, the public may access divorce case information via court records as provided by the court in the Parish where the divorce case was heard. Alternatively, interested persons may seek to obtain Louisiana court records from third-party websites. Note, the government or judicial authority in the state does not back such private websites, hence, the accuracy of data may not be guaranteed.
How Do I Seal My Divorce Records In Louisiana?
In Louisiana, a court order is required before an available divorce record may be sealed. Individuals who wish to have their divorce records sealed may send a written application to the parish court where the divorce was granted.
In doing this, the couple involved has to provide the court with tangible reasons why the divorce record should be sealed. It rests upon the couple to prove to the court the negative implications of leaving the records open on their lives. Such impacts may include a specific negative influence on their reputation, children (if any), career, or finance. For example, a couple may seek to have a divorce record sealed if it reveals sensitive information that affects some business operations.
Generally, in Louisiana, filing a motion to seal the part of the divorce document that contains sensitive information is more likely to be granted than a motion to seal the divorce records completely.