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Louisiana Court Records

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How to File For Divorce in Louisiana

Married couples in the state of Louisiana may decide to dissolve their union in the court. Divorce in Louisiana involves settlements such as child support and custody, alimony, and asset division. The process of divorce in the state also involves dividing the available debts and properties between the couple. Louisiana practices a concept known as community property, which states that every asset owned by either couple is marital property.

Pursuant to the state’s statutes, a judge can only grant a divorce if the couple has been separated for more than 180 days. This applies to persons without children. Those with children must be separated for at least 12 months. The waiting period is designated to allow the couple to work out the contended issues, preferably through a negotiated settlement, instead of a trial.

Do I need a Reason for Divorce in Louisiana?

Yes, any individual filing for divorce in Louisiana needs to have a legally acceptable reason for such an action. The state has a fault and no-fault based grounds for a divorce. A judge may permit divorce on a no-fault basis if the couple has been living continuously apart for a minimum of:

  • One hundred and eighty days (applies to couples without a child)
  • Twelve months (applies to couples with a child that is younger than 18)

Pursuant to article 103 of the Louisiana laws, the court may accept a fault-based divorce on any of the following grounds:

  • The spouse has committed adultery
  • The spouse was convicted of a felony offense and got a death or imprisonment penalty with hard labor
  • The spouse sexually or physically abused the petitioner
  • The spouse sexually or physically abused the child/step-child (regardless if the spouse got charged for the violation);
  • If a civil or criminal protective order was issued against the spouse while the couple was still married

What Constitutes Insufficient Grounds for Divorce in Louisiana?

The state of Louisiana practices both a no-fault and a fault system of divorce. Just as there are grounds considered sufficient for divorce, there are also reasons that won’t count in court. Below are some grounds considered to be insufficient for divorce in Louisiana:

  • Abandonment not up to a year
  • Less than two years of continuous separation of the spouses
  • Living continuously apart for less than a year after the signing of the separation from bed & board.

Why do I need a Divorce Lawyer?

Although the Louisiana statute does not necessitate hiring a lawyer, it is recommended to get one for good legal advice. In the state, the initial step is what is termed as the “discovery period,” and this could last for several months. During the discovery, the representative of the petitioner will establish contact with the lawyer of the spouse. This also includes sending questionnaires, which are referred to as interrogatory. The questionnaires contain requests for custody settlement, financial statements, and depositions concerning the divorce grounds. The lawyers also help to subpoena the spouse to get a written or verbal statement under oath concerning further questions.

How do I Get Started in a Divorce in Louisiana?

To start a divorce in Louisiana, the petitioner needs to fill some forms. These forms are available in the various local district courthouses, where requesters can obtain divorce papers’ packets. Louisiana divorce forms vary from one court to another. The party that files for divorce is known as the petitioner, while the receiver is called the respondent.

To start the process, the petitioner spouse will be required to fill the documents below:

  • Petition for divorce
  • Summons
  • Verification

Note that sworn statements, oaths, or affidavits must be signed before a notary public. After filling the forms, the petitioner should duplicate all documents and send copies to the other party.

How to File for Divorce in Louisiana Without a Lawyer?

The easiest procedure in Louisiana where a lawyer is not essential is an uncontested divorce. This is when both parties have agreed on the division properties and the children’s welfare (if they have). To begin such a divorce, the petitioner prepares a document known as “Petition for Divorce” with several other documents. Among those documents is a marital settlement agreement, which outlines how the assets will be shared.

These documents will be filed with the Louisiana trial courts. The petitioner must be present at a court hearing where the judge will ensure that all of the necessary paperwork is submitted before entering the judgment.

If the agreement from the couple is fair and satisfies all minor children (if available), the court will likely approve it. However, even couples seeking an uncontested divorce still have to adhere to the state’s procedural waiting periods.

How Does Louisiana Divorce Mediation Work?

Instead of a court trial, couples can settle on a divorce agreement with assistance from a mediator. Once both parties have finalized the settlement agreement, they can present it in court for approval.

In Louisiana, the mediator or either party is allowed to terminate the mediation whenever they want. However, a mediator aims to help the couple reach a mutually beneficial and lasting agreement. Usually, the agreement is drafted by the mediator then signed by the couple (and their lawyers). Ultimately, the agreement will be presented for approval at the appropriate Family Court.

How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in Louisiana?

Couples who use Louisiana mediators during the divorce still have to wait for 180 days before the divorce can be finalized. This is according to Article 103.1 of the Louisiana Code.

Through mediation, the divorced parties are likely to make better decisions in the absence of judgment. Several third-party sites provide interested persons with details of Louisiana mediators.

Are Divorce Records Public in Louisiana?

Louisiana divorce records are public records. Hence they are available from the clerk at the court that handled the divorce. The Louisiana Public Records Law charges all county and state agencies to make known the government records in their care. However, certain divorce records may be sealed by court order and therefore not available to the general public. Also, some parts of the documents considered to be sensitive may be made unavailable.

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 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.

How do I Get Louisiana Divorce Records?

Unlike most U.S states, Louisiana divorce is not available online. The state’s divorce records are only obtainable through the clerk’s office in the court where the divorce was filed. However, documents recorded 50 years ago can be accessed from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office. To get the records from the clerk, the requester must be related to either of the divorced couples in the first degree or be a government official.

To access sealed documents, the interested party may need to obtain a court order. Interested persons are advised to call the appropriate clerk’s office to book an appointment and make inquiries. The clerk’s contacts are generally available on the official website of the county or city of interest.

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