There are four valid grounds, or reasons, for obtaining a Louisiana divorce: you and your spouse are living separate and apart, your spouse committed adultery, your spouse physically or sexually abused you or your child, or your spouse has been found guilty of a felony and sentenced to prison.
Living Separate and Apart
To obtain a divorce based on living separate and apart, you have to be separated at least 6 months if you have no minor children or a year if you do. “Separate and apart” means that you have to live under separate roofs. It is not enough that you have separate bedrooms or divided up the living area of your house in some way.
There are two ways of counting the time you have to live separate and apart: starting at the time that you file the divorce or ending at the time you file the divorce. We call these a “file-and-wait” divorce and “wait-and-file” respectively.
The advantage of a “file-and-wait” divorce is that you can deal with other important issues immediately, such as spousal support, child custody, and use of community property such as a car or house.
The advantage of a “wait-and-file” divorce is that it is simpler procedurally speaking, and so usually much cheaper.
Adultery is grounds for divorce, but only if it is your spouse’s adultery. You can’t get a divorce based on your own adultery. Also note that adultery does not affect property rights. A spouse is not entitled to more of the community property because he or she ws cheated on.
Adutery does affect the cheating spouse’s right to permanent spousal support bot not to temporary support pending the divorce. A cheating spouse might receive short-term spousal support from the wronged spouse.
A divorce based on adultery is not necessarily faster than a no-fault divorce because it is a contested matter and must be set for trial. It may also be difficult to prove while a no-fault divorce is much simpler.
You cannot get a divorce based on adultery simply by the testimony of the married couple. That’s known as a “collusive” divorce. There has to be separate evidence of the adultery.
Sentenced to Prison
A divorce can be granted if the spouse was found guilty of a felony and sentenced to death or prison at hard labor. When these circumstances exist, this is a fairly quick and easy divorce, since proof is just a matter of obtaining the relevant certified records.
Physical or Sexual Abuse
You can obtain a divorce based on abuse if the other spouse physically or sexually abused you or a child of either of you, or there was an order of protection from abuse issued after a contradictory hearing or consent decree. The other spouse does not need to have been prosecuted.
As with adultery, the other spouse cannot get a divorce based on their own bad action.
Set up a meeting with an attorney who will discuss your situation with you one-on-one and help you come up with a plan of representation that suits you.