If you're a Louisiana resident, you may have had some mild awareness of your state's relatively draconian divorce laws, requiring a "cooling off" period of at least one year before a divorce will be granted to certain couples. However, these laws become much more than a mild curiosity when you find yourself facing an impending divorce, especially if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on most issues. Proposed changes to Louisiana's cooling off period could have a major impact on your future divorce filing, but these changes haven't yet been codified. Read on to learn more about Louisiana's divorce laws and procedures, as well as what you can expect if these proposed changes do come to pass.
What will happen once you seek a divorce in Louisiana?
Many lawmakers and others who dictate public policy have long bemoaned the dissolving of the nuclear family unit as a cause of many of society's problems -- from poverty to child abuse, truancy, and even drug and alcohol problems. As a result, around a decade ago Louisiana lawmakers implemented one of the longest cooling off periods in the country, requiring couples with minor children to wait an entire year after separating before filing for divorce is permitted.
This cooling off period is designed to force couples into truly considering the consequences of divorce; setting up separate households and coparenting children while apart can sometimes encourage sparring couples to seek counseling rather than going through with a divorce.
However, for other couples for whom a divorce may have been a long time coming, this lengthy cooling off period can be frustrating. If you and your ex-spouse agree on the division of assets and child custody, waiting an entire year to finalize these decisions can seem unnecessary, especially if one (or both) of you want to move on and make a fresh start. You may even find yourself tempted to temporarily relocate to another state, like Nevada, with much more permissive divorce laws so that you can get this process over with more quickly.
What changes are being proposed to Louisiana's divorce laws?
In response to some of the criticisms levied at this long cooling off period, lawmakers have begun to consider reducing the cooling off period to six months for couples with minor children. This change could impact a large number of Louisiana residents seeking divorce, even for those who filed for divorce before this law is finalized. Although it hasn't quite come to fruition yet, this proposed amendment has a number of advocates who cite Louisiana's current divorce laws as antiquated and costly.
For more information about the divorce laws in your state, talk to an attorney near you.