Divorce laws vary for each state because dissolving a marriage is a state-level process. Louisiana requires that you and your spouse undergo a separation before the court will grant you a divorce.
It is important to understand that this is not a legal separation, which the Legal Education and Assistance Program explains is not a requirement in the state unless you are in a covenant marriage. Instead, separation in this case refers to a physical separation period during which you and your spouse must live apart for a specific amount of time before the court will grant your divorce.
When you file for a no-fault divorce, you need to already be living separately, or you will have to wait for your final divorce decree. The time period for separation is 180 days if you do not have children and one year if you do have children. If you have not been living separate for the full period, then you will have to wait the remainder after you file for the court to finish your case.
The separation period does not apply for fault divorces involving adultery, a death sentence conviction or imprisonment in a hard labor camp for a felony. If you provide the proof required for a fault divorce, the court waives the separation requirement.
A covenant marriage has different rules. This is a special marriage you enter into with an agreement about divorce. It limits your ability to get a divorce. It also may require you to go through counseling prior to filing for a divorce. If you do end up filing, you must have a legal separation period.
Knowing the separation requirements for a divorce in Louisiana is important because if you expect to divorce right away but you do not meet these requirements, you may end up having to wait.