How Long Do You Have to Be Separated Before You Can Divorce?

Almost everyone knows that once you get married, you’re supposed to stay together until “death do you part.” But what happens when things just don’t work out? How long do you have to be separated before you can divorce? This is a question that many people ask, and the answer may surprise you.

In some states, you can file for divorce as soon as you are separated from your spouse, while in others, you may need to wait for some time before doing so. The requirements vary from state to state, so it’s essential to understand the laws in your specific area.

To make things easier, in this article, we focus on divorce laws in Louisiana and discuss how long you must be separated before you can file for divorce. We will also provide some tips on how to prepare for a divorce. However, check the laws that apply to divorce in your state.

Picture of a husband and wife looking miserable

How Long do you have to be separated before you can divorce in Louisiana?

Louisiana is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not need to prove grounds for divorce. Instead, you simply need to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

To do this, you must be separated from your spouse for at least 180 days before you can file for divorce. However, if you have children, the separation period is 365 days.

Once the separation period has elapsed, either party can file for divorce or you can file at the beginning of the separation and finalize the divorce after the requisite time period has elapsed. The process then proceeds like any other divorce proceeding in Louisiana.

If you are considering a divorce in Louisiana, it is essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

The vast majority of divorces that are granted in Louisiana are no-fault divorces. Under Article 102 of the civil code in Louisiana, couples file the divorce petition and must live separately and apart continuously for 180 days before the divorce can be finalized; remember, if you have minor children together, this period increases to 365 days.

And under Article 103 of the Louisiana of civil code, couples who have been living apart for specific periods of time file a divorce petition and obtain a final divorce judgment signed by the court in a relatively short period.

Also, living apart means that you and your spouse cannot have reconciled or had sex during the required separation period for both types of divorce. However, there are exceptions in cases of covenant marriage or if one spouse is active in the Armed Forces.

Grounds for divorce in Louisiana

Did you know that there are specific grounds for divorce in Louisiana? If you are considering filing for divorce, it is crucial to understand the grounds that are available to you. Each ground has its own set of requirements, so make sure you meet them before filing.

There are two types of divorce in Louisiana; No-fault and Fault-based.

No-fault divorces:

A person can file for divorce simply on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, i.e., there was an imminent breakdown of the marriage. To obtain a no-fault divorce, one spouse must simply state a reason for the divorce that is recognized by the state.

A judge may issue you a no-fault divorce if the couple has lived separately for at least 180 days and does not have a child under the age of 18. And, if the couple has a child under the age of 18, the time is extended for 365 days. 

Fault divorces:

A person can file for divorce claiming that the other party is at fault for the breakup of the marriage, meaning they did something to cause the divorce.

The most common causes of guilty divorce are abuse, adultery or infidelity, abandonment,  domestic violence, substance abuse, and having committed a crime.

An attorney who handles divorce cases can advise you on whether or not it is in your best interest to file for a fault or no-fault divorce, as the type of fault can impact some court decisions, whether for or against you.

Is it best to be the first to file for divorce in Louisiana?

Legally, there are no specific impacts of filing for divorce first in Louisiana. Of course, you will be able to deal with some technicalities in a better way if you file for divorce first.

For example, you can plan well about managing assets and tracking your accounts. You get prepared psychologically, emotionally, and financially.

You aren’t forced to make hasty decisions about lawyers or law firms to speak on your behalf. You get hold of time, which, if used tactfully, can bewilder the other party.

Picture of a judges gavel splitting a toy house.

What happens if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers   

If you are considering filing for divorce, it is essential to understand what could happen if your husband refuses to cooperate. In some cases, the court may order him to comply with the divorce or face penalties.

In general, a person cannot prevent a divorce by refusing to sign papers or for most other reasons. However, you can condition how this will happen.

If the husband refuses to sign divorce papers, it will go to court, and a judge will regulate the dissolution of the marriage. In this sense, based on his criteria, he will establish all the aspects of the divorce agreement between both parties and will force compliance.

Understanding your options and what could happen in your particular situation is essential for making the best decision for yourself and your family. Speak with an attorney to learn more about your rights and what recourse is available to you.

A divorce and a legal separation-difference

Are you considering a divorce or a legal separation? If so, you may be wondering what the difference is between the two. Keep in mind that every situation is unique, so you should speak to an attorney to get specific advice for your situation.

In a simplified way, legal separation can be considered a stage before divorce because, with the split, the couple no longer needs to maintain the duties of marriage. However, only after the divorce can the person remarry.

Both divorce and legal separation separate the couple financially and provide legal oversight for child support and custody, debt management, and spousal support in one way or another.

Louisiana is a state where legal separation is only available to couples in covenant marriage. To get this form of dissolution, you need grounds for your request and will also have to participate in counseling before the court can grant your request.

Can a divorce be denied?

In the United States, divorce is usually granted by a court when one spouse files for it. However, there are some circumstances in which a court may deny a divorce.

If you are considering filing for divorce, it is vital to understand the grounds on which a court may deny your request.

However, in other states, courts have the discretion to refuse to grant a divorce if they feel it is not in the best interest of the family. For example, if minor children are involved, the court may want to ensure that adequate child support and custody arrangements have been made before granting a divorce.

Unfortunately, Louisiana is one of the states in which a court can deny a divorce, and it can be very frustrating for couples who just want to move on with their lives. However, there are some instances in which denying the divorce may be the best option for the family.

If you’re considering divorce in Louisiana, it’s essential to understand all of your options before making any decisions.


If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you may be wondering how long you need to be separated before the divorce can be finalized. The answer to this question depends on the laws of the state where you live.

In some states, there is a minimum separation period of six months or one year before a divorce can be granted. Other states do not have a minimum separation requirement. So, if you are considering divorcing your spouse, you should check with an attorney in your state to find out what the law requires.

If you have additional questions about divorce, contact our office; we are an experienced family law firm with offices in Hammond and Livingston, Louisiana.

Disclaimer: The Law Offices of Sonja Bradley provide the above information as a courtesy, and it is not intended as legal advice.