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Why is Everyone Talking About Fault?

Divorce in Louisiana – What You Need to Know

We regularly get calls from folks asking if they leave the house, will it be deemed abandonment or has my spouse abandoned me? Louisiana law used to require that for people to obtain a divorce, the parties must show that someone was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Once such fault ground for divorce was abandonment.

This law was changed in the early 90s. Now neither party is required to show fault to obtain a divorce, only that the parties have lived in separate households the requisite amount of time. If the parties have children under the age of 18, they must live separate and apart for 365 days before being able to obtain a divorce or if there are no children under the age of 18, then the time to live separate and apart is 180 days.

Showing Fault to Obtain an Immediate Divorce

Despite the change in the law, few instances still exist in which a party may be entitled to obtain a divorce without living separate and apart from their spouse for the requisite amount of time. These instances are as follows:

  • adultery.

  • felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor.

  • physically or sexually abused during the marriage of the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses

  • a protective order from abuse or an injunction was issued during the marriage, after a contradictory hearing or consent decree, against the other spouse

If a party can prove that any of the above examples occurred, then that party would be entitled to an immediate divorce. Adultery is the most common ground for which people want to seek an immediate divorce. However, there is a high burden of proof to prove adultery. The moving party must show that the other party committed a sexual act with another person and they must have a third-party witness to corroborate their claims. Because of the higher burden of proof, it is not common for people to obtain a divorce on the grounds of adultery even when adultery may have occurred.