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The pluses and minuses of no-fault divorce

by | Apr 21, 2021 | Family Law |

Divorce never happens for no reason. Things like infidelity and abandonment, where one spouse is clearly to blame, can end a marriage. So can a spouse realizing they are not in love, or a couple admitting they are incompatible or cannot agree on their plans for the future. But divorce is rarely a random event.

Years ago, Louisiana law required that someone who wanted a divorce to prove that one of three things was true:

  • Their spouse committed adultery
  • Their spouse has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to death or hard labor
  • Their spouse committed domestic violence and/or sexual abuse against a family member

Fortunately, Louisiana, along with every other state, has adopted no-fault divorce. This means the court will accept a divorce filing without evidence of any of the above. This makes it much easier for people in bad or unhappy marriages to get divorced and move on with their lives.

Louisiana’s no-fault divorce waiting period

But there is a catch. State law requires that spouses live separately and apart for at least 180 days if the couple has no minor children together or one full year if they do have a child under 18. This six to 12 months of limbo may be intended to give separated couples time to consider reconciling, but it can be frustrating for couples sure their marriages are over.

While you no longer need to prove fault to get a divorce, fault can still have an impact. For example, a parent getting divorced because their spouse was abusive to the children can present evidence of that abuse to show that they should get sole child custody. And a spouse who has spent marital assets on someone they are having an affair with may have to take less during property division.