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How does a divorce proceed?

Even though deciding to end a marriage is a difficult decision that is gotten to over a period of months, once the process begins Louisiana couples prefer that the matter is resolved as soon as possible. Like most other legal processes, a divorce can be marred by delays, but most divorces follow a similar timeline.

Once the party filing for divorce has submitted their petition to the court, detailing the reasons for the divorce and a suggested method of resolution of family law issues such as custody, maintenance and property division, they then serve the same petition to the other party. Along with the petition, summons are also served, which requires the other spouse to submit a response. There is a deadline within which the response must be filed, usually a couple of weeks, clarifying whether the spouse agrees with the petition. If no response is filed, then the court assumes that the terms of the petition are agreed to.

Couples can often resolve their issues amicably through mediation or settlement, after which the settlement agreement is given to the court in an informal hearing. If the judge agrees to it, he gives a divorce decree, indicating the agreement. If the judge doesn't agree or the couple themselves cannot agree, then the case proceeds to trial, where each side presents evidence and arguments portraying their side. Once issues such as property division, custody, visitation and support have all been resolved, the judge grants the divorce. The grant can be appealed, but its rare that it is overturned.

Depending on one's situation, a divorce can be finalized in anything from a couple of months to a couple of years. The more a couple works together to resolve their disputes, the faster a process can go. If Louisiana residents think they cannot talk to one another with a level-head, it might be better to approach an experienced lawyer as a go between.

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