When you’ve reached the end of your marriage, the emotions and anguish can be overwhelming. Determining your next steps as you move towards a separate life, how you have entered into your marriage plays a part in how you exit your marriage. In Louisiana, both traditional and covenant marriages are recognized by law, although because Louisiana is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce, legal separation is not recognized for traditional marriages. Alternatively, legal separation isn’t so much a necessity, but a solution for some of the more intricate steps in the divorce process for those who have entered into a covenant union.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED LEGALLY SEPARATED IN LOUISIANA?
By design, it is difficult to dissolve a covenant marriage. Through legal separation, either party can file a motion with the court to handle separation of property and resolve alimony and child custody decisions. At the end of the court proceedings, both parties are able to live separate lives, although unlike divorce, they are not free to remarry. Without going to the extent of divorce to dissolve the marriage, legal separation allows spouses to handle property division, alimony and child custody as they would during a divorce and live apart from one another as a single person. For those in a covenant marriage, which requires that fault be established to end the marriage, legal separation offers an alternative to establish the end of the union, shortening the time required by covenant marriages before the couple is able to pursue divorce.
WHAT ARE GROUNDS FOR LEGAL SEPARATION?
By entering into a covenant marriage, both parties state that they will always work towards reconciliation versus divorce. When one partner has committed adultery, physical or sexual abuse, been convicted of a felony, or has abandoned the family, the couple can proceed toward divorce without the requisite time spent towards reconciliation. When these conditions have not occurred, the couple must live separately for a period of two years before moving toward divorce. For many in a covenant marriage, it is easier to meet the requirements for divorce through separation, making legal separation a welcome step in the divorce proceedings. In some cases, the couple may not move forward with divorce and remain separated indefinitely. Most often, those with religious objections to divorce, or those who have accumulated tax or federal benefits that would cease with divorce choose to pursue legal separation.
DO YOU HAVE TO BE LEGALLY SEPARATED BEFORE DIVORCE IN LOUISIANA?
In a traditional marriage bond, legal separation is not a requirement, although the couple should remain separate and apart for a prescribed period of time before the divorce is allowed to proceed. For those in a covenant marriage, however, legal separation can help to speed along the process. Two years of separation without reconciliation is required to end a covenant marriage, and by establishing legal separation, the couple can move forward with divorce in a more timely manner.
CAN YOU DATE IF YOU ARE LEGALLY SEPARATED IN LOUISIANA?
Dating after separation does not equate with adultery, but proceed with caution. Although you want to continue on with your life, dating can increase animosity from your former spouse or cause custody issues to arise. Moreover, as you progress towards divorce, being in a committed relationship can alter any spousal support that you may receive.
Helping you to navigate the complex landscape of marriage, The Law Office of Michael A. Rosenblatt will stand by you every step of the way. Protecting your rights and advocating on your behalf, we help you to understand your options.