Are you able to file your own divorce in Louisiana? There are no hard and fast rules that state you must hire an attorney. You need to ask yourself a few questions to determine if you’re up to the task of filing your own divorce in Louisiana.
Louisiana has a unique set of divorce laws and can be difficult to maneuver if you don’t know what you’re doing. Divorce attorneys are expensive, but there’s a reason – they have experience with the local court system and they know the law. If you’ve found this article, there’s a good chance you’re considering a do-it-yourself divorce in Louisiana.
Here are a few questions that you need to honestly answer to determine if you’re up to the challenge of a do-it-yourself divorce:
- Do you have time;
- Do you and your spouse agree on most issues;
- Do you get emotional when discussing the divorce;
- Is there community property involved;
- Are there children under the age of 18;
- Have you and your spouse come to an agreement for child support;
- Do you get along with your spouse;
- Do you have an understanding of the family assets and debts;
- Have you tried mediation;
- Does your spouse have an attorney?
While there are numerous other questions to ask yourself, this is the beginning of determining whether your divorce will be the type that you can handle on your own.
Do You Have the Time and Patience to File Your Own Divorce
Obtaining a judgment of divorce in Louisiana can take some time. You will have to prepare and file the proper petitions, verifications and will have to either have your spouse sign a execute a Waiver of Service or have them served. Make one mistake during this process and you may have to re-file or start over. You may dive into something you don’t quite understand and realize you need the assistance of a divorce attorney. Also keep in mind, there are 102 and 103 divorces in Louisiana – at-fault and no-fault and you must file the proper paperwork. This can be frustrating unless you know exactly what you need to file, so be sure you’re ready for the challenge. If you’re looking for more information on the living separate and apart rule, filing fees and cost of divorces in Louisiana, check out this article.
Do You Agree On Most Issues
Separating from your spouse could potentially involve much more than just obtaining a divorce. You may have other ancillary matters that must be agreed upon or litigated such as child support, child custody, community property and spousal support. You don’t have to agree on all matters, but it helps if you can find some common ground and avoid having to litigate or have a court hearing about each individual issue.
Do Discussions About Divorce Get Heated
Divorce can be a difficult discussion to have with your spouse, but you need to spend time talking and discussing options. If you fight every time divorce is mentioned, you may not be a good candidate for do-it-yourself divorce. This may be a good time to speak with an attorney. If you cannot have a discussion without heated emotions, you may need someone to handle the details for you. Also, attorneys can be great at providing a buffer between you and your spouse.
Do You Have Children Together
Divorcing with children under the age of 18 can be one of the toughest things your family will ever go through. You are still a family and need to ensure that you and your spouse do not harm the children. They will experience difficult times, but it is your duty to lesson the burden on your children. You will eventually need to sit down with your children and speak to them about the divorce. Child custody can make a divorce even harder in Louisiana unless you agree on visitation and custody issues.
Do You Have Community Property Together
Louisiana is a community property state and that means you will have to split property obtained during the marriage. This is still true for stay-at-home spouses that may not have contributed an income, but provided child care. Both parties are entitled to their share of the marital assets. If you are doing the divorce yourself and property is agreed upon, you are probably still able to proceed. If you must fight over community property, it is highly advisable to get an attorney involved at this point.
Do You Get Along with Your Spouse
If you get along with your spouse and don’t argue, you will have an easier time filing your divorce. Many couples are able to still remain friendly during the process. If this is the case, you may be able to file your divorce by yourself with no issues. If you constantly fight, call an attorney to at least discuss your options.
Mediation Can Help with Divorce
If you’re close to an agreement with your spouse, but need a little help – try divorce mediation. This is a great way to get help with some of the lingering issues you may have. Say for example you and your spouse agree to child custody, but have property division issues – a mediator may be able to help. You, your spouse can discuss issues with a mediator and hopefully avoid court and do what’s best for your family.
Family Assets and Debts
While it may be a difficult time for your family, you must discuss the family assets and debts with your spouse. You will need to work out a plan that outlines who pays for what and which assets can be split equally or whether one spouse will have to “buy out” the other to make an equal split. This can be exceedingly difficult depending on your family’s situation. If you have a good understanding of the bills and income coming into the household, your job will be exponentially easier.
Have You Agreed on Child Support
If you don’t have children together, this section isn’t for you, but is something most spouses have to deal with at some point. Child support is important – its money given to the other spouse to ensure your children have what they need in life. It covers basic needs for your child as well as extracurricular activities. Child support is set by state guidelines so you simply use a formula to determine how much you must pay. However, the parties can agree on child support if they desire. You can’t get upset that you have to pay child support because it is for your child and you have a duty to protect that child financially.
Does Your Spouse Have An Attorney
If your spouse has an attorney, don’t walk – run to get your own attorney. You need someone on YOUR side to protect YOUR right. Your spouse’s attorney is NOT your attorney and will not have your best interests at heart. Their job is to get the most for their client, not help you. One attorney will normally not be able to represent both parties in a divorce and the attorney should disclose this information to you immediately. The fact that your spouse has an attorney already should be a clear sign that your divorce may have a few issues that he or she doesn’t trust the two of you to work out. You’ve been warned.
Divorce can be one of the toughest times in your life. It is highly recommended you hire an experienced Louisiana divorce attorney to help you through the proceedings. If you are attempting to file on your own or a Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Louisiana – be sure you are ready for the challenge and do your research before embarking on this journey.
If you’re looking to hire a local Louisiana attorney to help with your divorce, read this article for tips on what to look for.
Disclaimer: This blog article is not intended as legal advice. You must speak with an attorney for legal advice.