PROCESS FOR OBTAINING A DIVORCE
To obtain a divorce in Louisiana, you or your spouse must go before a judge who will issue the final divorce order. When the judge issues the divorce order, the judge will also issue a decree or order for matters related to a divorce such as custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, community property allocation, asset distribution, and division of liabilities of the marriage. When parties retain separate lawyers to assist them to resolve these issues, they are engaging in the litigation process. If the parties are not able to work through the issues themselves, their attorneys will take the lead in litigating these issues in what is called a “contested divorce.”
The parties can also use a mediator to assist them in working through the issues related to a divorce. The mediation process usually results in the parties filing an “uncontested divorce.” After the mediator prepares the “Memorandum of Understanding” or MOU which is a document containing the agreements reached by the parties in the mediation, you can take the MOU to the Court’s “Self-Help Desk” which can assist you in incorporating the MOU into a Consent Judgment or you can take it to a lawyer of your choice to have the agreements filed with the court. The Self-Help Desks in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes are staffed with volunteer lawyers who assist individuals with family, divorce, and domestic legal issues in the courts.
Mediation has become a popular tool in Louisiana for resolving child custody and visitation issues as well as other issues related to divorcing and separating couples. The mediation of child custody and visitation disputes reduces conflict between parents and helps them to communicate more effectively when they are resolving disputes and when their disputes end. Mediation allows divorcing or separating parents to resolve personal and complex issues in private, outside the courtroom environment, without the presence of outsiders who have no interest in the dispute. When compared to litigation, which can be a costly endeavor for the parents, the mediation of child custody and visitation disputes saves the parties considerable time and money.