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What is a "103 divorce" in Louisiana?

Many residents of Baton Rouge have heard the term "103 divorce," but few of them understand the meaning of the phrase. The phrase refers to the section of the Louisiana Civil Code that specifies the most commonly used grounds for divorce. The section has special relevance for couples that have experienced domestic violence.

In order to obtain a no-fault divorce, that is, a divorce that is not based upon the misconduct of one of the spouses, the parties must have been living separately prior to the filing of the petition for at least 180 days if they have no minor children and for 365 days if they have minor children. The minimum time period is waived if one spouse has committed adultery or has committed a felony and has been sentenced to death or hard labor.

Perhaps the most important exception to the minimum waiting periods is a showing that one spouse physically or sexually abused the spouse seeking the divorce, or abused one of their children. This provision was added to the law in 2014 specifically to provide relief to women who are otherwise locked in an abusive marriage. The waiting periods are also waived if one spouse has obtained a protective or restraining order against the other spouse to protect that spouse or the children from sexual or physical abuse. If the spouse seeking the divorce based on grounds of abuse files a petition setting forth the required basis for the divorce, the case is placed on the calendar and proceeds forthwith.

Anyone wondering about obtaining a divorce under Article 103 may wish to get more information about their own unique case. Doing so could help a Louisiana resident to determine whether the necessary grounds can be proved.

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