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Family Law: Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a divorce?

When a divorce judgment can be rendered depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. Always consult an attorney regarding your particular circumstances. Generally, however, if you did not contract for a covenant marriage, and if no children were born from your marriage, a divorce can be granted if you and your spouse have voluntarily lived separate and apart for 180 days. For couples with minor children of the marriage, the time period is extended to a period of living separate and apart for at least one year. The Hatfield Law Office, L.L.C. can help you obtain your divorce in the most efficient, (in both time and cost), manner possible.

My spouse committed adultery, will that allow me to divorce my spouse immediately?

A divorce judgment can be rendered immediately (as soon as the court's docket will permit) if and only if you meet one of the following requirements: (1) you can prove, with sufficient evidence, the spouse has committed adultery, or, (2) a spouse has been convicted of a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor. The Hatfield Law Office, L.L.C. can advise you whether or not you can obtain an immediate divorce based on one of the above grounds.

Do I have a covenant marriage?

The covenant marriage is authorized by Louisiana Revised Statute 9: 272, et seq. To have a covenant marriage you must have executed, in writing, a statement to the effect of: "We, [name of intended husband] and [name of intended wife], do hereby declare our intent to contract a Covenant Marriage and, accordingly, have executed a declaration of intent attached hereto..." in your marriage license application. You must also have executed a declaration of intent, (which is comprised of two documents, described below), to have agreed to a covenant marriage.

The declaration of intent includes two separate documents: the recitation and the affidavit. The recitation, which must be signed by both the parties states something to the effect of:

We do solemnly declare that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman who agree to live together as husband and wife for so long as they both may live. We have chosen each other carefully and disclosed to one another everything which could adversely affect the decision to enter into this marriage. We have received premarital counseling on the nature, purposes, and responsibilities of marriage. We have read the Covenant Marriage Act, and we understand that a Covenant Marriage is for life. If we experience marital difficulties, we commit ourselves to take all reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including marital counseling.

With full knowledge of what this commitment means, we do hereby declare that our marriage will be bound by Louisiana law on Covenant Marriages and we promise to love, honor, and care for one another as husband and wife for the rest of our lives."

In the affidavit, (the second document necessary for the declaration of intent), the parties must have attested they have received premarital counseling from a priest, minister, rabbi, clerk of the Religious Society of Friends, any clergyman of any religious sect, or a professional marriage counselor, which counseling shall include a discussion of the seriousness of covenant marriage, communication of the fact that a covenant marriage is a commitment for life, a discussion of the obligation to seek marital counseling in times of marital difficulties, and that they have received and read the informational pamphlet developed and promulgated by the office of the attorney general entitled "Covenant Marriage Act" which provides a full explanation of the terms and conditions of a covenant marriage.

If a couple married before August 15, 1997, they could also have a covenant marriage if the couple took steps similar to the above referenced steps to convert their marriage into a covenant marriage.

If you do not recall taking the above mentioned steps, you probably do not have a covenant marriage.

Can I get sole custody of my child?

Whether or not sole custody is appropriate depends upon the facts and circumstances of your case. Always consult an attorney regarding your particular circumstances. However, Louisiana law provides that custody will be awarded in the best interest of the child. When a court hears and determines the issue of child custody, the law favors awarding custody to the parents jointly. To prove that joint custody is not in the best interests of your child, you must show, by clear and convincing evidence that sole custody, rather than joint custody, would be in the best interests of the child. A request for sole custody is not appropriate in every case. The Hatfield Law Office, L.L.C. can advise you whether sole custody is an appropriate option in your particular case and can represent you in connection with a custody determination.

Whose income is considered when determining child support?

The monthly gross income of both parents is considered when determining child support. The Hatfield Law Office, L.L.C. can provide you with superior representation in connection with the determination of your child support obligation or revision of an existing child support obligation.