How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Louisiana?

A man uses an hourglass to track the duration of his divorce

According to Louisiana Civil Code, Title IV, Chapter 2, Article 102, the time required to obtain a divorce varies based on factors such as the complexity of the case and court caseload. The waiting period for a no-fault divorce is typically 180 days (no children) or 365 days (with children).

What’s the Louisiana Divorce Process Timeline?

Image of the steps in the divorce process on a chalk board
Divorce proceedings can be lengthy due to the complex issues that might occur during the divorce process, like property division, child custody, and financial matters.

The marriage dissolution process can have different timelines due to the case specifics. There are several basic steps to follow when getting a divorce in Louisiana, and the divorce timeline typically includes but is not limited to:

  • Required separation for no-fault cases – 365 days for couples with minor children and 180 days if spouses do not have minor kids. Remember that spouses should also meet the residency requirements, living in the state for at least six months before filing.
  • Preparing divorce papers – from several days to a few weeks.
  • Filing a petition for divorce with the court – can be done in 1 day.
  • Serving a respondent with the divorce papers – up to 90 days if a respondent’s location is known.
  • Waiting for a response from the other spouse – 15 days.
  • Going through negotiation and mediation, if required.
  • Attending court hearings if applicable in the case.
  • Waiting for a final judgment, after which you can get a copy of the divorce decree from the clerk’s office.

How Long Do You Have to Be Separated Before Divorce in Louisiana?

According to the Louisiana Civil Code, if spouses want to get a no-fault divorce, they must live separately for 1 year if they have minor children together or 180 days if there are no minor kids in the marriage.

A divorce based on fault grounds can be granted faster. According to Article 103, there are several cases when spouses can get a fault-based marriage dissolution without waiting till the mandatory waiting period for divorce in Louisiana is over:

  1. One of the spouses has an extramarital affair.
  2. One spouse has committed a serious crime and is imprisoned or sentenced to execution.
  3. One spouse abuses the other party or a child.
  4. A protective order or injunction was issued against a guilty spouse to protect the other party or a child from abuse.

How Long Does It Take to File for Divorce?

A man begins the process of filing for divorce online

Filing divorce papers with the court can be done in one day. However, preparing divorce documents can be time-consuming, significantly affecting the average time to divorce.

If you would like to speed up divorce proceedings, paperwork preparation in particular, you can contact a professional lawyer who will find and complete the documents for your case. However, please note that even such a limited-scope representation is expensive and may result in delays due to a busy lawyer’s schedule.

For this reason, more and more couples applying for an uncontested divorce turn to online divorce services that provide ready-to-file papers at a reasonable cost and within short deadlines.

How Long Does It Take to Be Served with Divorce Papers?

A respondent should be served with divorce papers once they are filed in Louisiana within 90 days. A petitioner must ensure the other party gets copies of divorce documents and is notified of the divorce process. Typically, spouses hire private process servers or a sheriff to deliver the papers. The timelines depend on the following factors:

  • The type of case – if it is uncontested and a respondent agrees to sign the Acceptance of Service, the service process may be avoided.
  • Location of a respondent and their desire to cooperate. If you know your spouse’s whereabouts, serving the paperwork can take a few days to a week or more. However, if their location is unknown or they intentionally avoid the service, it will cause delays.

Under Louisiana law, a respondent has 15 days from being served to file an official response to the divorce petition.

How Long Does It Take for a Divorce to Be Final in Louisiana?

Inscription about the end of the divorce process on the folder
The final stage of divorce in Louisiana is granting a final judgment of divorce by the court.

A divorce process may take from several months to a year or more. If you wonder, “How soon can a divorce be finalized?”, pay attention to factors such as the type of divorce, case complexity, and the workload of the court.

  • An uncontested case can be finalized in 2-3 months, given spouses already lived separately for at least 180 days if they do not have kids. The timeline will mainly depend on how soon a judge can review the case and issue a final judgement.
  • If the divorce is contested, it usually lasts from 6 months to a year or more. The divorce duration is affected greatly by the complexity of the case. If spouses need to divide many assets, have complex financial issues or child custody disputes to resolve, are not cooperative, need to involve third-party experts, etc., the process may be delayed significantly.

Factors Affecting the Length of a Divorce

          Several factors affect the duration of the divorce process:

  • Required separation period. If you apply for a no-fault case, you must wait for a divorce to be granted in no less than 180 days if you have not lived separately before.
  • Divorce type: contested or uncontested. Uncontested cases are usually finalized faster since both spouses agree on all divorce terms, while the contested divorce timeframe is much longer since a couple needs time to come to an agreement or wait till the judge can decide on the case based on the evidence provided by both parties.
  • Mediation and negotiation. If spouses are cooperative and willing to engage in mediation or negotiations, they can quickly find a common ground on different divorce issues.
  • Court caseload. If the court has a busy schedule, it may take longer to set a hearing date, if a hearing is required, and finalize a divorce.

How to Speed up Your Divorce?

A man holds an hourglass to measure the speed of the divorce process
To speed up your divorce, choose an uncontested divorce procedure and work cooperatively with your spouse.

If you wonder, “How fast can a divorce be finalized?”, remember that it can be a pretty long process lasting from several months to a year or more. There are some tips on how to speed it up:

  • First, try to negotiate with your spouse on the division of property, child custody, alimony, etc. Go through mediation, if necessary. This way, you can apply for an uncontested divorce without lengthy court litigations.
  • If you consider a no-fault divorce, start a separation in advance so you do not need to wait 180 or 365 days after filing.
  • If the case is uncontested, and hiring a lawyer is not a necessity, you may turn to online divorce services. They help spouses with documents required for a divorce, saving time on paperwork preparation. You can get a full set of divorce forms that are ready to file. Using them, you can apply for a quick divorce in Louisiana online if e-filing will work in your case or submit the papers to the local court.