It is possible to get an uncontested divorce in Louisiana when your spouse does not sign the paperwork for your divorce. This article discusses the means by which you can obtain an uncontested divorce without your spouse’s signature. We will also discuss how the inability to get your spouse’s signature affects custody, child support, spousal support & community property partitions. Lastly, we will address how an uncontested divorce is not be a viable option when you spouse files an objection to your divorce petition.
Before we start we must first define what we mean by “uncontested divorce.” For purposes of this article, an uncontested divorce is a divorce that proceeds without any objections filed by the other spouse. So if your spouse is served with divorce paperwork by the sheriff, fails to file any timely objection, you will be able to obtain an uncontested judgment of divorce.
Procedure for Obtaining Uncontested Divorce in Louisiana Without Spouse’s Signature
In an ideal uncontested divorce, your spouse would sign a document called a Waiver of Service after you file your petition for divorce with your local courthouse. This Waiver of Service would allow you to finalize your divorce without any need for service on your spouse or other cooperation by your spouse. You can learn more about an uncontested divorce with waiver of service in Louisiana here and here.
However, sometimes your spouse does not want to sign paperwork for your divorce or you are no longer in contact or do not want to be in contact with your spouse. You may still be able to obtain an uncontested divorce in these situations. The first step is requesting service of your petition for divorce on your spouse. If your spouse lives in Louisiana, the service will be accomplished through the sheriff’s office of the parish your spouse lives. If your spouse lives out-of-state, service will be accomplished through certified mail. You can learn more about uncontested divorces when your spouse lives out-of-state here.
Once your spouse is served with the petition for divorce, you must wait fifteen days if your spouse was served in-state or thirty days if your spouse was served out-of-state. If your spouse has not filed an objection with the court during that time period, you may proceed with the divorce process. There will be two more rounds of filing with the court before you can submit your judgment of divorce for signing.
Having to serve your spouse with the petition for divorce adds time and expense to finalizing your divorce, but it provides you with an avenue to achieve your uncontested divorce.
When You Do Not Have Contact Information For Your Spouse
If you do not know where your spouse is located, you obviously cannot have your spouse served. Do not worry, there is a procedure in place to accomplish your divorce when you do not know the location of your spouse. In these situations, you will ask the court to declare your spouse an absent person and appoint an attorney (called a “Curator Ad Hoc”) to accept service for and locate your spouse. The Curator Ad Hoc will publish notice in the newspaper or the place you last know if your spouse living and will send a certified copy of the petition for divorce to your spouse’s last known address. The court will then set a hearing on your divorce where you will obtain your judgment of divorce. You can learn more about divorces when you cannot locate your spouse here.
Custody, Child Support, Spousal Support & Community Property Partitions When Your Spouse Won’t Sign
I often prepare consent agreements for clients with uncontested divorces regarding custody, child support, spousal support, and/or community property partition issues. However, these consent judgments must be agreed to and signed by both parties. Please note that you will not be able to resolve these issues out of court without the consent and cooperation of your spouse. If your spouse is unwilling to sign agreements regarding these issues incidental to divorce, you will have to set a contested hearing with the court to hear your case and make a final determination.
When Your Spouse Files an Objection
If at any point during your case, your spouse files an objection to your petition for divorce, you will no longer be able to proceed with your uncontested divorce. You will then have to set a hearing with the judge to grant your judgment of divorce. Your spouse may file several responses to your petition:
- An objection to the divorce itself – usually denying that you have not been separated for the required period of time in Louisiana;
- In Louisiana, you must be separated for 180 days without minor children or 365 days with minor children before the court can sign off on your judgment of divorce.
- A “reconventional demand” which alleges the spouse’s own request for divorce; or
- A “reconventional demand” bringing claims for custody, child support, spousal support, and/or community property partition.
When your spouse files an objection to your divorce petition or a reconventional demand for his/her own divorce allegations, you will have to set a hearing before the judge to make a determination on your judgment of divorce. When your spouse files a reconventional demand bringing other claims such as custody, child support, spousal support, and/or community property partition, there will be a separate hearing set for the court to make determinations on those issues. Unfortunately, when your spouse files this objection and the hearing is set, you will not likely be able to enjoy the cost and expediency of an uncontested divorce..
Whether you are facing an uncontested or a contested divorce in Louisiana, it is important to speak with a Louisiana Divorce Attorney regarding the best strategy for proceeding with your case. You can find more information about Rotharmel Shanks, LLC here or call the office at 504-509-5000 to speak with a Louisiana Divorce Attorney about your case.