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How to Get a Legal Separation in Louisiana

How to Get a Legal Separation in Louisiana

In any marriage, there may come a time when the couple decides that living separately is the best option for them. Legal separation provides a way for couples to live apart while still maintaining certain legal rights and responsibilities. If you are considering a legal separation in Louisiana, it is essential to understand the process and requirements. This article will guide you through the steps of obtaining a legal separation in Louisiana and answer some frequently asked questions.

What is a Legal Separation?

A legal separation is a court-ordered arrangement that allows a couple to live separately while remaining legally married. It is different from a divorce because it does not dissolve the marriage, but it does address issues such as child custody, spousal support, and property division. A legal separation provides a structured framework for the couple to navigate their separation while still maintaining some legal rights and obligations.

Steps to Get a Legal Separation in Louisiana

1. Understand the Grounds for Legal Separation: Louisiana recognizes two grounds for legal separation. The first is a “separation from bed and board,” which occurs when the spouses live apart without reconciling for a continuous period of time. The second ground is a “fault-based” separation, which can be granted if one spouse has committed adultery, a felony, or physically or sexually abused the other spouse.

2. Consult with an Attorney: Before proceeding with a legal separation, it is advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process. They can help you understand your rights and obligations, as well as assist in preparing and filing the necessary paperwork.

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3. File a Petition for Legal Separation: To initiate the legal separation process, you must file a petition with the court in the parish where either you or your spouse resides. The petition should include information about the grounds for separation, as well as any requests for child custody, support, and property division.

4. Serve the Other Spouse: After filing the petition, you must serve a copy of the documents to your spouse. This can be done through personal service or by certified mail. The other spouse then has a specified period to respond to the petition.

5. Attend Mediation: In Louisiana, couples seeking legal separation must attend mediation before the court can grant the separation. Mediation is a process where a neutral third party helps the couple reach agreements on various issues. If an agreement is reached, it can be submitted to the court for approval.

6. Finalize the Legal Separation: Once all issues have been resolved, either through mediation or a court hearing, the court will issue a judgment of separation from bed and board. This judgment will outline the terms of the separation, including child custody, support, and property division.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I get a legal separation if my spouse doesn’t agree?
A: Yes, you can still pursue a legal separation even if your spouse does not agree. However, it may be more challenging to reach an agreement on issues such as child custody and property division.

Q: How long does a legal separation last?
A: A legal separation in Louisiana can last indefinitely, as long as the conditions that led to the separation persist. However, either party can petition the court to convert the legal separation into a divorce.

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Q: Can I remarry after a legal separation?
A: No, you cannot remarry after a legal separation since you are still legally married. To remarry, you must obtain a divorce.

Q: Can I modify the terms of the legal separation?
A: Yes, you can request modifications to the terms of the legal separation if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This can include changes in income, employment, or the needs of the children.

Q: How much does a legal separation cost?
A: The cost of a legal separation can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the attorney’s fees. It is advisable to discuss the cost with your attorney before proceeding.


A legal separation in Louisiana provides couples with an alternative to divorce, allowing them to live separately while still maintaining certain legal rights and obligations. By understanding the steps involved in obtaining a legal separation and seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can navigate the process more efficiently. Remember to consider the specific circumstances of your case and consult with a professional to ensure that your legal separation meets your needs and protects your rights.

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