The law and you

The following section is intended to provide general guidance about the legal process and general information about various aspects of the law. It is not intended to be advice on your specific situation. You should consult an attorney to see how your situation applies to the law. Attorneys are trained in the law and provide advice about how specific fact situations would be handled under the law.

Courts in Louisiana

Your divorce action in Louisiana will take place in what is referred to as the district court. Generally each parish has a district court although there are some parishes that have a district court in combination with an adjacent parish. In order for a court to hear your divorce or custody case the court must have what is known as jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the legal power and authority of a court to hear and determine an action. For the court to have jurisdiction to hear your case you must live within the parish of the court.

Louisiana Community Property Law

Louisiana is one of nine community property states in the United States. Community property states divide marital property equally between the spouses in a divorce. Community property is property acquired during the marriage. Community debts are debts acquired during the marriage. Under Louisiana law, the division of community property takes place after the divorce. The suit to partition the community property is a separate suit after the divorce.

Child Custody and Visitation in Louisiana

Child custody in Louisiana is based upon the best interest of the child. The law provides the judge with a list of factors to use in making or
modifying child custody. These factors are found in Civil Code Article 134 as follows:
Art. 134 Factors in determining child’s best interest
The court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of the child. Such factors may include:
(1) The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.
(2) The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and
rearing of the child.
(3) The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.
(4) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment.
(5) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
(6) The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.
(7) The mental and physical health of each party.
(8) The home, school, and community history of the child.
(9) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
(10) The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party.
(11) The distance between the respective residences of the parties.
(12) The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.
Art. 134 Factors in determining child’s best interestThe court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of the child. Such factors may include:(1) The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.(2) The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child.(3) The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.(4) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment.(5) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.(6) The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.(7) The mental and physical health of each party.(8) The home, school, and community history of the child.(9) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.(10) The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party.(11) The distance between the respective residences of the parties.(12) The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.
Joint legal custody is the preferred custody in Louisiana. Joint legal custody means that the parents
share in decision making regarding the child. It does not mean each parent has the same amount of time with the child.
Shared custody is the term used to mean each party has physical custody of the child for approximately the same amount of time, usually
on a week to week basis.

Child Support in Louisiana

Child support is awarded to the party that has custody of the child. It is based upon the party requesting child support being in need and the other party having the ability to pay. The law provides for a schedule to calculate the amount of child support based upon the incomes of each parent. The income is gross income per month. Gross income means all sources of income without deduction of any expenses. The total child support amount is derived by adding the two parents monthly income together and finding the nearest amount on the child support schedule based upon the combined income and the number of children. This amount is multiplied by the percentage of combined monthly income for the parent paying child support. Certain adjustments are allowed such as health insurance paid for by the parent for the child and any extraordinary expenses of the child such as day care or private school. A judgment of child support will be retroactive back to the date of the request for the child support.

Divorce in Louisiana

Louisiana law provides for two methods of obtaining divorce. They are generally referred to by the code articles that establish these two types, Article 102 and Article 103. The difference basically is that under an Article 102 divorce, the party seeking the divorce files for the divorce and then must wait the required amount of time before obtaining the divorce, based upon whether the parties have children of the marriage. Under Article 103, the parties must have been living separate and apart for the required amount of time before the divorce is filed. All types of divorce require that the other party be served with the petition or sign a waiver of service. A waiver of service is a document stating that the party has received a copy of the divorce petition or other pleading.

Under an Article 102 divorce, the petition is filed and served upon the other party. The time limits are 180 days if the parties do not have minor children and 365 days if they do have minor children. The days are counted from the date the petition is served upon the other party or the date the waiver of service is signed. Generally if there are children, a hearing is scheduled when the petition is filed. This hearing will be to determine child custody, child support, spousal support if sought and use of the family home or family vehicles if that is an issue. Community property is not decided at this hearing. After the time period has passed a rule for final divorce is filed and served upon the other party. A hearing is set to which neither party need attend and the judgement of divorce is presented to the judge for signature. If the parties have not previously agreed upon community property, then a division of community property can now be requested.

Divorce

Louisiana has adopted a no fault system of divorce which means the parties do not need to prove fault in order to obtain a divorce. The two types of divorce in Louisiana are known by the Civil Code Articles governing each one, 102 and 103. The difference between the two have to do with whether you wait the required amount of time before the divorce or after filing for divorce. The normal divorce is filed under Article 102. The procedure requires the party to file for the divorce and then wait either 180 days if there are no children, or 365 if there are children, then file a final rule for the divorce. Under Article 103, the party files for divorce after living separate and apart from their spouse for the required number of days. Normally a preliminary default is entered and then confirmed by the party seeking the divorce.

Services Offered

Services: Divorce, Child Custody, Visitation, Child Support, Spousal Support, Protective Order, Community Property, Adoption, Emancipation, Tutorship, Interdiction, Name Change, Succession, Probate, Wills, Matrimonial Agreements, Qualified Domestic Relation Orders, Income Assignment Orders, Real Estate sales, mortgages, donations, Declaration of Immobilization, Limited Liability Companies, Power of Attorney. Call the office for other services which may be provided but not listed.

About us

Lauren Gay Coleman has been licensed to practice law in Louisiana since 1984. She practices in the area of family law. She is a certified mediator and has a Masters Degree in Social Work. She has extensive courtroom experience. Her knowledge of the law will help you understand your rights and what to expect in a family law case.

Spousal Support

Our office can help you obtain spousal support during the time of your divorce. Spousal support is based upon your need and the ability of the other party to pay. Contact the office for further information on the possibility of you obtaining the benefit.

Child Support Hearings

Lauren Gay Coleman can help you through a child support hearing.  She is experienced and knowledgeable in the rules regarding child support.  If you need help with a child support issue you can contact us.
Child support is determined by looking at the gross income of the parents.  The child support calculation does not consider expenses of the parents. A basic child support calculation can be made by adding the monthly income of both parents, finding the nearest amount on the child support guidelines, found at the schedule below.  Then apply each parent’s percentage of income to the result and you get each parents share of the child support.
You can find the Louisiana Child Support Guidelines here:

http://dss.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&nid=86&pnid=60&pid=146&catid=0

You can find a child support worksheet here:

Custody and Visitation

Child Custody and Visitation

Lauren Gay Coleman can help you with your custody issue, whether you need representation in a custody dispute or help in drafting a workable joint custody plan both parties will be able to abide by.

Child Custody and visitation are decided during the period after the divorce is filed. The courts look to the best interest of the child in deciding child custody and visitation. Louisiana Civil Code Article 134 list the factors in determining a child’s best interest. It is as follows:
The court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the best interest of the child. Such factors may include:
(1) The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each party and the child.
(2) The capacity and disposition of each party to give the child love, affection, and spiritual guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child.
(3) The capacity and disposition of each party to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.
(4) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, adequate environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity of that environment.
(5) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
(6) The moral fitness of each party, insofar as it affects the welfare of the child.
(7) The mental and physical health of each party.
(8) The home, school, and community history of the child.
(9) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
(10) The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party.
(11) The distance between the respective residences of the parties.
(12) The responsibility for the care and rearing of the child previously exercised by each party.

Home

We hope you find our website helpful and informative. Remember each situation is different. You should  consult your own attorney to answer your specific question.  Nothing contained in this website is intended to create an attorney/client relationship between the attorney and a person viewing this web site.
Get Directions To:

2011 MacArthur Drive Bldg 1
Alexandria LA 71301
USA

Adoption

Adoption of children is one of the most important steps you can take and you should carefully consider the attorney who will help you through this process.

In Louisiana there are three forms of adoption, intrafamily, private and agency. The intrafamily adoption is the most common type. And the most common type of intrafamily adoption is by a step parent. The private adoption is between two parties who either have know each other prior to the adoption process or have been brought together through some other means.  An agency adoption, as the name implies, is an adoption handled by a social service agency such as a church or adoption agency that specializes in such adoption.