How to Obtain a Legal Separation in Louisiana
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Legal separation in Louisiana is a provision recognized by the state and the documentation required by the state is similar to that of a divorce. Legal separation in Louisiana is granted in the form of a court decree that makes it 'legal'. Before the separation is granted, the couple has to sign a settlement agreement that deals with the marital issues such as child care, property distribution and other issues related to the marriage, and which need to be sorted out.
Benefits of Legal Separation in Louisiana:
Many couples now-a-days opt for legal separation instead of divorce so that they can retain some benefits of marriage while being separated and lead separate lives. There are various benefits of getting a legal separation instead of divorce. These benefits are emotional, religious, financial and social. Let us have a detailed look at these benefits:
Settlement Agreement in Louisiana:
- Financial – Many couples now-a-days opt for legal separation in Louisiana owing to the financial benefits they are entitled to, for being married to each other. They can get an insurance coverage on their partner's policies, investment plans and pension plans that reap benefits for both the partners. If the couple has been married for more than 10 years, they are entitled to social security as well as military benefits offered by the state. Besides, the legally separated couples have inheritance rights to their partner's property in the light of the partner's death.
- Religious – If the couple is affiliated with a religion such as Catholicism, Hinduism or Judaism, which frowns upon the concept of divorce and outcasts the people getting a divorce, legal separation in Louisiana can be an ideal option as the couple can continue the religious affiliation as well as live a life of their choice. These religions cannot have a problem with legal separation as the couple; though legally separated; is still technically married.
- Social – There is no social stigma attached to being legally separated as it is to being divorced. The main reason for opting for this option is that the couple wants to avoid any negativity towards the important decision in their life. Besides, they can still socialize as husband and wife wherever necessary. For instance, as the parents of their children or at the church, they can go as a couple and yet they need not stay together in an unpleasant miserable marriage.
- Emotional – Some couples look at legal separation as the trial separation and an opportunity to cool off and reflect on their decision and the consequences of this decision. They might consider reconciliation and get back together after spending a reasonable time apart. They can revoke the separation anytime when they decide to reconcile or the arrangement can continue for their lifetime.
As mentioned earlier, the couple is supposed to sign a settlement agreement in order to get a legal separation in Louisiana. This agreement is also known as a separation agreement and has to be approved by the court. This agreement deals with the following issues:
This agreement has to be approved by the court and signed by both the parties to be considered valid and legally binding on both the parties.
- Property Settlement – Louisiana is a community property state. The marital property (i.e., the property which is acquired by the couple during the marriage) is divided equally in a 50 – 50 proportion and handed over to each party. No matter who has purchased a certain artifact or an appliance, the property will be divided equally between both the parties. The non-marital assets or possessions such as jewelry, clothing, artifacts, appliances, rewards, gifts or other possessions remain with the owner no matter who paid for them.
- Child Custody – The Louisiana courts prefer to award the joint custody to the parents so that both can contribute to the childcare and can avoid the conflicts about the upbringing and other child care issues. The decision is taken keeping in mind the best interests of the child. The earning capacity and providing capacity of the parents, the moral, physical and mental health of the parents, the home, school and community record of the child, preference of the child and the parents as well as the emotional rapport between the family members is considered while awarding the child custody.
- Child Support – The state of Louisiana uses Income Shares Model to calculate the amount of child support. This means that the child should receive the same amount of support they would have received if they were staying together as a family. The income statement of the parents, their earning capacity, the standard of life provided to the children before the separation also has to be considered before determining the amount for child support.
- Parenting Plan – Usually the parents are supposed to prepare a parenting plan as they know their child best. The parenting plan is supposed to be complete with the visitation schedule and the plan for holidays and weekends. The specific vacations such as summer and spring along with the festivals such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter should be decided. The birthdays of the family members and the special days that they have always celebrated should also be mentioned.
- Spousal Support – The court determines whether the dependent spouse needs spousal support or not. The amount to be paid is in accordance with the lifestyle and the standard of living provided during the marriage. Besides, the financial obligations of both the parties along with the capacity to pay or the need to spousal support is also verified. The alimony can be temporary as well as permanent.