Three Major Changes to Divorce Law in 2018

2018 has been a game changing year for divorce law in Louisiana.  The Louisiana Legislature has made significant changes in laws relating to immediate divorce, interim spousal support, final spousal support, and awards of attorney's fees and costs in domestic abuse cases. These changes will certainly be affecting litigants for years to come in Louisiana courts.  The following are three significant changes in the law effective August 1, 2018 which divorcing spouses and spouses contemplating divorce should be aware of:

1. INTERIM SPOUSAL SUPPORT (Louisiana Civil Code Art. 113)

All awards of interim spousal support shall terminate 180 days from the Judgment of Divorce.  For recipients of interim spousal support, this much needed change brings more security in that the date of the judgment of divorce will no longer be the termination date of the interim spousal support. 

What does this mean to litigants in divorce cases?

Interim spousal support is meant to provide stability and peace during what is usually a traumatic period of time.  It is based on

(1.) The needs of the spouse requesting support;

(2.) The ability of the other spouse to pay; and

(3.)  The standard of living during the marriage. 

Recipients of interim spousal support now have more assurance that they will be able to receive additional support to maintain a stable lifestyle.  


A civil OR a criminal protective order is now grounds for an "immediate divorce."    

What does this mean to litigants?

This change in the law broadens the scope of the grounds for an immediate divorce to benefit any spouse who received a protective order in either civil OR criminal court.  The new law provides an easier path for victims of abuse who desire a divorce from the abusive spouse.

3. FINAL SPOUSAL SUPPORT (Louisiana Civil Code art. 112)

When a spouse is awarded a judgment of divorce based on

(1.) the other spouse committing adultery;

(2.) the other spouse committing a felony and being sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor; OR  

(3.) based on a protective order

That spouse is presumed to be entitled to final spousal support.

What does this mean to litigants?

Spouses who behave badly are more likely to find themselves on the hook for final spousal support.  Final spousal support typically continues until death, remarriage, or until the receiving spouse begins co-habitating with another in the manner of married persons.  The spouse who behaved poorly during the marriage will now have an uphill battle in overcoming the presumption that the other spouse is entitled to spousal support.