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Louisiana Family Law: An Overview

There are many times when Louisiana’s family laws will play a role in your life. When you find “the one,” you’ll need to make sure you meet the state’s marriage requirements, including applying for a marriage license prior to your wedding. If you plan on adopting or fostering a child, you’ll have to meet legal housing and income requirements.

If you have a family law case in New Orleans, Shreveport, Baton Rouge or elsewhere in Louisiana, LawInfo is your source for information and legal help. LawInfo’s Louisiana Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.

If you need help navigating the complex laws governing your case, a Louisiana family law attorney can help and treat your case with the sensitivity it deserves.

Louisiana Child Support

Even if you don’t earn primary physical custody over your children in a divorce, you still have legal obligations to their development and health. The court will order the non-custodial parent to pay child support until the child turns 18 years old, becomes emancipated or graduates high school before reaching 19 years of age.

Child support is calculated using both parents’ combined adjusted gross monthly income and the number of children in need of support. Visitation (called “parenting time” in Louisiana) doesn’t factor into child support calculations. The noncustodial parent may not legally withhold child support payments and the custodial parent may not legally deny the other parenting time for nonpayment without court intervention.

Community Property in Louisiana

Property rights and distribution are often one of the more confusing aspects of divorce. Louisiana’s community property laws help to answer questions about each party’s rights to property and what kinds of property may be divided between divorcing spouses.

There are two types of property in a marriage: community property and separate property. Community property includes real and personal property:

  • Acquired during the marriage by either party.
  • Acquired using other community or separate property.
  • Donated (or gifted) to both parties jointly.
  • Produced by other community property, including royalties and interest, unless otherwise claimed as separate property by either party.
  • Awarded as damages for the injury or loss of other community property.

Any property that was acquired before the marriage or during the marriage from personal gifts, inheritances, insurance or personal injury settlements is considered separate property.

Each party holds exclusive rights to their own separate property, which isn’t divided and distributed after divorce. However, each party holds a 50 percent interest in all community property. If neither party can agree to how their community property should be distributed or if there is no prenuptial agreement, the court may decide to evenly distribute it among them.

Louisiana Marriage Requirements

Every state has its own legal marriage requirements that couples must meet to enjoy the benefits and protections provided by state law. Louisiana clearly outlines the legal requirements for marriage in its statutes as:

  • Each party’s consent to the marriage, free from coercion and fraud.
  • An “absence of legal impediment.”
  • A marriage ceremony.

Legal impediments include prohibited types of marriages under Louisiana’s family laws. No marriage may be legalized if it is between:

  • A currently married party and an unmarried party. (A bigamous marriage.)
  • Members of the same sex.
  • Family members up to the “collateral line within the fourth degree” (first cousins), regardless of whether they’re whole or half blood or adopted. This includes ascendants and descendants.

Prior to the marriage ceremony, you will need to obtain a Louisiana marriage license from a court clerk, which verifies that both parties meet these legal requirements.

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