There are generally two types of divorces available in most states: contested and uncontested. A divorce is "contested" when the spouses don't agree on some or all aspects of the divorce—meaning that a judge will need to hold a trial and examine evidence to determine the outcome. The contested divorce process takes quite a while.
On the other hand, in an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on all of the issues required to end their marriage, so there's no need for a judge to hold a trial. Spouses have the option of getting professional help in an uncontested divorce, but can often use a DIY solution like an online divorce service instead to save money. Most of the time, an uncontested divorce is much faster and cheaper than traditional divorce.
An "uncontested divorce" simply means that both spouses agree on all the key terms of the divorce, including:
Couples who are unable to resolve any issues in their divorce will have to go to trial and leave things up to a judge to decide. You'll have the opportunity to settle your case on your own or with the help of a mediator at any point up to trial.
To file for divorce in Louisiana, you must meet the residency requirement by living in the state for at least six months before the divorce begins. Louisiana residents who are living out of state can still file for divorce in Louisiana as long as they've maintained their residency. (La. Civ. Pro. Code Ann. Art. 10 (2021).)
The above rules apply to traditional marriages and divorces. Louisiana is one of three states (as of 2020) that recognizes covenant marriages. If you and your spouse entered into a "covenant marriage" in Louisiana, you're required to seek marital counseling before you can file for divorce.
Couples can seek an uncontested divorce based on the fact the couple has been living separate and apart. Spouses must have been separated for 180 days (if there are no children) or 365 days (if they have children) before a judge will grant a divorce. There's one exception: if you have a covenant marriage, you can't get an uncontested divorce in Louisiana. (La. Civ. Code Ann. Art. 103.1 (2020).)
Alternatively, couples can file for a grounds-based divorce in Louisiana based on adultery or a felony conviction. (La. Civ. Code Ann. Art. 103 (2020).) Couples who have a covenant marriage can seek a divorce based on one of the following fault grounds:
The key here is that to get an uncontested divorce, you have to agree on everything—including the reasons for the divorce. If you opt for a fault-based ground like adultery, your spouse is much more likely to want to argue about the divorce instead of cooperating with you.
Louisiana's courts are organized differently than most other states. Louisiana has 43 district courts, 5 family or juvenile courts, 49 city courts, and 3 parish courts.
The district courts are the basic entry-level trial courts for the state, and they have the jurisdiction (authority) to handle all civil and criminal cases, including divorces. You'll need to file your divorce papers in the parish where either you or your spouse lives, or in the parish where you lived together in the marital home.
If you want to initiate the divorce, the first thing you'll need to do is locate the correct forms and complete them.
Louisiana divorce forms vary from parish to parish. The Louisiana State Bar Association provides basic divorce information and online forms that you can use.
Be sure to take your time and work carefully to complete your divorce paperwork. It's a good idea to type your divorce forms on a computer or print neatly. Any mistakes or incomplete forms could delay your divorce. Although you can ask court clerks basic questions, they cannot give you legal advice.
You might be able to find the answers to some of your questions or legal assistance from Louisiana Law Help (legal aid and free divorce information), Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, or through the Parish of Orleans Civil District Court's Legal Assistance Information page. The Family Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge also has a comprehensive self-help resources website.
If you're seeking an uncontested divorce, your divorce paperwork should include a petition for divorce, summons, and a settlement agreement that resolves all your issues. After you've filed those items with the court, you'll need to serve the divorce documents on your spouse according to the rules of your parish courthouse.
There are filing and service fees, but if you can't pay them, just ask the clerk for a fee waiver form. You'll fill it out by furnishing your income information, and if a judge agrees that you qualify for a waiver, you won't have to pay fees to serve or file documents. However, you will still have to pay for certified copies of your divorce papers.
While your divorce likely won't be free, you can obtain a cheap divorce in Louisiana if you and your spouse are reasonable and able to work together to reach a settlement. If the terms of your settlement agreement are fair and comport with Louisiana law, the judge will approve it and finalize your divorce.