Marriage & Divorce; Parenting & Child Support

Marriage, Divorce, Children, Custody & Support

Generally, the civil contract of marriage requires a valid marriage license, an authorized official (generally a clergyman or judge), two competent adult witnesses, and the free consent of the two persons to be married.
  • If one of the potential spouses is already married.
  • Incest; blood relatives cannot marry. Blood relatives include parents, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, siblings and first cousins. Legally adopted relatives are treated like blood relatives. However, persons related by adoption may marry once they receive written approval by a judge.
  • Generally, a divorce will be granted under the following conditions:
    • If there are no minor children born or adopted of the marriage, the spouses must be physically separated for at least 180 days before being entitled to a divorce.
    • If there are minor children born or adopted during the marriage, the spouses must be physically separated for at least 365 days before being entitled to a divorce.
  • However, a divorce may be granted in less than 180 days if:
    • A spouse has committed adultery;
    • A spouse has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor;
    • During the marriage a spouse physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking divorce or a child of one of the spouses;
    • A protective order or an injunction was issued during the marriage to protect the spouse seeking the divorce or a child of one of the spouses from abuse.
    • In accordance with the terms and conditions of a Covenant Marriage.
  • Generally, you own an undivided one-half interest with your spouse in any property acquired during the marriage. Neither spouse can sell, mortgage nor lease their one-half interest until the community property is divided.
  • Community property includes the following:
    • Property acquired during the marriage through the effort, skill, or industry of either spouse;
    • Property acquired with community property;
    • Property donated to the spouses jointly;
    • Revenues derived from community property and separate property earned during the marriage;
    • Damages, loss or injury to a community property asset;
    • All property acquired during the marriage not classified as separate property.
  • If you do not want to have community property with your spouse, the two of you may execute a Matrimonial Agreement before a notary public and two witnesses before the marriage ceremony agreeing not to have community property. If you marry without execution of a Matrimonial Agreement, you will have to obtain a written court order by a judge if you later decide you do not want to have community property with your spouse.
Using the Louisiana Child Support Guidelines, child support will be based on the parents’ gross income. Both parents must submit current pay stubs along with tax returns to document income.
Child support generally ends with the child reaches 18 years of age and has graduated from a secondary school (high school) or its equivalent or reaches 19 years of age, whichever occurs first. In some cases, child support may continue until the child is 22-years-old if the child is disabled. You should not stop paying your child support obligation without first checking with the court that ordered the child support.


Louisiana law may consider someone a parent even if they are not biologically related to the child. This can happen when a man is married to a woman at the time of delivery, or if the biological father acknowledges paternity through the “Louisiana Putative Father Registry.”
Parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially and emotionally. Parents also have the right to speak with and spend time with their children, even if they do not have custody, unless a court says otherwise. Parents must strive to provide their children with a safe place to live, an education, food to eat, and guidance. If a parent is in need of help providing this, they should contact
If you are unable to reach an agreement about the care of your child with the other parent, you may want to go to court. Courts can issue custody orders and child support orders which provide legal obligations that both parents must follow.
Child abuse means any one of the following acts which seriously endanger the physical, mental, or emotional health and safety of a child (a person less than 18 years of age who has not been judicially emancipated):
  • Infliction, attempted infliction, or, as a result of inadequate supervision, the allowance of the infliction or attempted infliction of physical or mental injury upon the child by a parent or any other person;
  • The exploitation or overwork of a child by a parent or any other person; or
  • The involvement of the child in any sexual act with a parent or any other person, or the aiding or toleration by the parent or the caretaker of the child’s sexual involvement with any other person or of the child’s involvement in pornographic displays, or any other involvement of a child in sexual activity constituting a crime under the laws of this state.
Child neglect is the refusal or unreasonable failure of a parent or caretaker to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, care, treatment, or counseling for any injury, illness, or condition of the child, as a result of which the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health and safety is substantially threatened or impaired. Neglect includes prenatal neglect (by using illegal, controlled dangerous substances, or chronic or severe use of alcohol by a mother during pregnancy).

Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 421-LSBA(5722) / (504) 566-1600