Divorce Attorney in Denham Springs, Louisiana
Not only is the marriage rate in Louisiana declining — from 17.6 per thousand residents in 2009 to 14.1 in 2019 — but the divorce rate has fallen 27% in the same period and now stands at 7.3 per thousand women 15 or older, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Statistics don’t tell the full story, though. Divorce is a stressful and emotional time. It’s often hard for the people involved to make sound decisions. One spouse may want to take it out on the other, or both may look at divorce as a “get even” time. That’s why it’s important to step back, obtain solid legal advice and counsel, and work out a mutual divorce settlement.
If you end up in court, you can never be sure of the outcome in terms of division of assets, child and spousal support, and parenting time, among other life-changing considerations.
If you’re considering divorce, are already in the process, or have been served papers in the Denham Springs, Louisiana area, contact us at the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham. Our team serves clients in Livingston, Colyell, Holden, Albany, French Settlement, Walker, Springfield, Port Vincent, Watson, and throughout Livingston Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, St. Helena Parish, and the greater Baton Rouge area.
We will work with you to reach a joint settlement that you can present to the court. If court looms because the two of you can’t agree on a divorce agreement, she will break down the costs of litigation and discuss the likely outcome of court proceedings, so you can make an informed decision. If necessary, we are also prepared to represent you in court.
Divorce in Louisiana
Louisiana is not a no-fault divorce state per se, where all it takes is an affirmation of irreconcilable differences to untie the knot. Instead, Louisiana divorce law is based on physical separation. If you live separately from your spouse for 180 days and you have no children, you can then file a petition to confirm your divorce based on the separation. If you have children, the separation requirement extends to one full year.
The exception is if the couple entered into a covenant marriage, which requires them to undergo counseling before marriage and afterward whenever problems arise. If a covenant couple decides to divorce, they must cite a reason such as infidelity, a felony conviction, abandonment, or physical or sexual abuse, or meet stringent separation requirements.
The separation option in a covenant marriage may require signing a legal separation agreement. The divorce can then be sought after one year of separation if there are no children, or one-and-a-half years if there are children. Living separately for two years without signing a legal separation also qualifies.
An at-fault divorce is an option in Louisiana and can be sought if domestic violence is a factor or if one spouse is convicted of a felony. Fault divorces may be used to show in court that one spouse is morally unfit to have custody of the children or be granted visitation rights. It also can be used to warrant final spousal support.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
To save both cost and emotional trauma, an uncontested divorce is always preferable. This requires the couple to come to an agreement about the division of assets, child custody and visitation rights, spousal support, and every other issue pertaining to the two involved. The agreement can be worked out together or through the help of an attorney. In most cases, attorney involvement, mediation, counseling, or other interventions are needed to facilitate the process. The proposed settlement can then be presented and the court and will become a legally binding agreement.
An uncontested divorce does not always mean the couple avoids court. If the couple can agree on most issues but not on all, they can always present that to the judge and seek resolution of the remaining issues in court.
A contested divorce means the couple goes to court to argue their case and a judge decides the outcome. Obviously, this is going to increase the up-front costs of the divorce and stretch matters out while each spouse and their respective attorneys make their arguments. It can also tend to exacerbate already-raw emotions and leave a bad taste in the mouth long after the divorce decree has been issued.
How Long Does a Divorce Take?
Depending on your status — no children, children, regular marriage, covenant marriage — a divorce will take a minimum of six months and up to two years while the couple is meeting the separation requirement. If during that time, the spouses can mutually agree on a settlement arrangement, the divorce can be finalized in a shorter time frame once the separation requirements have been met. If the couple decides to take the issue to court, that is obviously going to extend the time frame.
In general, you can plan on a minimum of two weeks and up to six months following the filing of the petition to confirm the divorce and the completion of the separation period, depending on the parish you’re in, and how busy the local courts are, to be legally declared divorced.
Let a Skilled Attorney Be Your Guide
Your divorce attorney will sit down with you to explain the law and explore your options with you. At the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham, we encourage and facilitate out-of-court solutions, but when there is no middle ground, we are prepared to argue your case before a judge.
Divorce is difficult enough as it is, so when you choose an attorney to represent you, you want them to do the heavy lifting so you can concentrate more on transitioning to the next chapter in your life.
Divorce Attorney Serving
Denham Springs, Louisiana
Take control of your future by working with a divorce attorney who will always put your needs before anything else. Contact us at the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham. Our firm is located in Denham Springs but serves clients in Livingston, Colyell, Holden, Albany, Walker, Watson, Springfield, French Settlement, and throughout Livingston Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, St. Helena Parish, and the greater Baton Rouge area.