How to File for Divorce in Louisiana Without a Lawyer?

The girl reads the procedure for filing documents for divorce

Filing for divorce in Louisiana without a lawyer involves several steps. First, obtain the necessary forms from the court or online. Complete the forms accurately, ensuring all required information is provided. File the forms with the appropriate court and pay the filing fee. Serve the other spouse with the divorce papers according to legal requirements. Attend any required court hearings and follow the instructions provided by the court throughout the process. 

If you would like to start a divorce in Louisiana without a lawyer and successfully complete the process, the step-by-step guide provided below may come in handy.

1) Prepare for Filing for Divorce in Louisiana

The girl carefully reads the papers necessary for divorce
Preparing for filing for divorce in Louisiana can be challenging and complex due to the legal requirements and paperwork involved.

Before filing for divorce, you must collect all the important documents the court may require. These may be a marriage certificate, financial statements, documents for property, any papers related to children, etc. 

The next thing to do is to determine the grounds for divorce in Louisiana. You can file for a no-fault divorce and will not need to prove your spouse’s fault in the marriage breakup. To initiate a no-fault divorce, spouses should live apart. According to Article 102 of the Civil Code, the required separation in Louisiana is 365 days if a couple has minor children and 180 days if there are no underage children in the marriage.

You can also start a divorce based on fault grounds if you have good reasons and can provide sufficient evidence of the other party’s guilt to the court. In this case, you can dissolve a marriage faster, without waiting till any separation period is over.

Also, you should determine whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce. Contested cases usually last longer since there are disagreements between spouses that should be resolved during a trial. Therefore, managing such a case without a lawyer may be difficult. It is reasonable to try to agree with a spouse on the divorce issues. If you cannot do so on your own, mediation can be a way out of conflicts. If the case is uncontested, and spouses agree on the division of property, child custody, and alimony, they can start a divorce without an attorney.

a) Check if You Meet the Residency Requirements

Image of the Louisiana State Flag, which is present in divorce courts
Meeting the residency requirements in Louisiana for divorce typically involves establishing legal residence in the state for at least 180 days.

Ensure that either spouse meets the residency requirement for divorce in Louisiana, which is living here for at least six months before filing for divorce. Otherwise, the local court will not have jurisdiction over your case, and you will need to file in the state where you resided before.

b) Obtain the Divorce Forms

Visit the Louisiana Supreme Court’s website to get divorce forms, or go to the local court to check if the clerk can provide you with the necessary papers.

The forms required will depend on whether you have children, whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, and whether you have lived separately or not. Common forms may include a divorce petition, a summons, child custody and visitation forms, financial affidavits with detailed information on income and expenses, etc.

2) Complete the Divorce Papers

Fill out the forms with accurate information about your case. If you find it challenging to deal with the legal paperwork on your own, you can contact online services, which can help you prepare all the necessary documents. Thus, you do not need to spend days completing the forms and worry that there may be some mistakes in the paperwork. After the papers are ready, make copies of all forms before you file for divorce in Louisiana.

3) File the Forms and Pay the Filing Fee

Take the completed package of documents to the local court clerk’s office and pay the filing fees, which may vary from $200 to $400, depending on the parish where you file. Check with the court clerk the exact amount you will need to cover and acceptable payment methods.

You can potentially file for a divorce in Louisiana online and not go to court if that option is suitable in your case.

4) Serve the Divorce Papers to Your Spouse

Husband serves divorce papers to his wife
Serving divorce papers to your spouse in Louisiana can be a detailed process, involving strict legal requirements.

If you are the petitioner, you must serve your spouse with divorce papers to properly notify them that you have filed for divorce. If the case is uncontested, the other party may sign the Acceptance of Service form.

Otherwise, you will need to hire a sheriff or a private process server to deliver the forms to your spouse. You can also send documents by certified mail if a respondent lives out of state. Make sure you have a return receipt or proof of delivery to submit it to the court.

5) Wait for the Response

After receiving the papers, a respondent has 15 to 30 days to provide an answer, depending on the service type. There are several ways of how the case may proceed after the service:

  • No Response: The second party may choose not to reply to the divorce documents, and the divorce may end with a default judgment.
  • Contested Response: If your spouse disagrees with the terms specified in the petition, they can file a counterclaim, and divorce will be considered contested. In such a case, involving a lawyer may be necessary.
  • Uncontested Response: Your spouse may agree to the divorce terms and sign the respective documents.

6) Prepare for and Attend Court Hearings if Necessary

If court hearings are required in your divorce process in Louisiana, you will need some preparation for them.

  • Make sure you have filled out all the necessary divorce forms and collected any relevant documents that may be needed in your case, such as financial records, property documents, parenting plans, etc.
  • Dress respectfully and professionally for the court hearing and plan to arrive at the courthouse early.
  • Be ready to answer the judge’s questions about your divorce and prove your claims.

7) Obtain a Final Divorce Decree

Once the court is satisfied with the divorce terms and all legal requirements have been met, the judge will issue a final judgment. After that, you can contact a clerk’s office and get a copy of the divorce decree in Louisiana. It is an official proof that your marriage is over. After getting a divorce in Louisiana and receiving the final decree, both parties must abide by its terms.

Why May a DIY Online Divorce in Louisiana Be a Good Option for You?

A DIY divorce in Louisiana may be a good option for you due to several reasons:  

  • Cost-effectiveness. Do-it-yourself divorce in Louisiana is usually more affordable than hiring an attorney. If you have a simple uncontested case, you can save money on legal help.
  • Relatively simple process: If you and your spouse agree on property division, child custody, support, etc., there will be no need to participate in many court hearings and lengthy litigation.
  • Convenience: You can go through the process at your own pace; there is no need to constantly adjust to a lawyer’s schedule. If you need help with paperwork preparation, you may contact online divorce services and order a full set of divorce documents completed in just a few days.

Before deciding on a DIY divorce, make sure to evaluate all aspects of your marriage dissolution to see if it is a suitable option in your case.