Proving an “At Fault” Divorce in Louisiana

Feb 21 08:28 2012 Will Beaumont Print This Article

Proving that a spouse is at fault can be difficult in Louisiana.  Here is an example of what a court may find to be fault sufficient to deny a spouse final spousal support.

In the state of Louisiana,Guest Posting family courts often make many important determinations regarding divorce.  These determinations, not surprisingly, can have serious consequences for the two spouses.  One such determination is the decree that one of the spouses is “at fault” for the breakup of the marriage.  If this is the case, the spouse “at fault” may not be entitled to certain things that otherwise they would be, for example, spousal support.  Let’s use an example to illustrate this point.

Let’s say we have a young married couple: Jim and Maggie.  They have been married for five years, and have two children together, Steven and Liz.  Jim and Maggie’s marriage has been on the rocks for a little while now.  They are constantly getting into arguments about all sorts of petty things.  One day Maggie gets upset because Jim left his dirty clothes on the floor; the next day Jim is angry at Maggie because she forgot to shut the garage door and a raccoon got into the house and tore up a bunch of trash. 

While the two spouses fight about insignificant things, there may also be some more serious transgressions taking place as well precipitating a divorce.  One night a few weeks ago, Jim came home very late from work.   Maggie thought this was odd, because Jim normally left work as soon as possible because he was not very happy with his job.  But more and more often, she will get a call from him saying he would be back late because he “is stuck at work.”  On this particular night, Maggie is already in bed by the time Jim gets home, but she is not asleep.  Jim undresses (and leaves his clothes on the floor) and then goes to take a shower.  Maggie gets out of bed to pick up Jim’s clothes, and cannot help but notice that they reek like perfume…and it is not a type of perfume which Maggie owns.

Convinced that something is awry, Maggie hires a private investigator for an entire month to track the movements of her spouse because she is considering filing for divorce.  At the end of the month, the private investigator comes to her with some bad news: Jim is most likely cheating on Maggie with another woman.  When Maggie asks the private investigator for proof, he produces a number of different photos.  They show Jim eating dinner at a restaurant with a young beautiful woman.  The two apparently went out to eat five times in the past month.  Each time after they went out to eat, the private investigator was able to follow them back to the same motel.  He has photos of them entering the room together.  An hour later, Jim leaves.  Thirty minutes after that, the young woman emerges and leaves the motel as well.  Upon learning this, Maggie files for divorce without reconciling with Jim. 

In this case, Maggie probably has good evidence for a court that Jim is at fault for the breakup of the marriage.  She would not merely be hurling an accusation at him; to the contrary, her allegation would have a lot of evidence to back her claims up.  If a court agrees, than Jim may not be entitled to a number of things that he otherwise would have, had his actions not foreseeable and reasonably led to the divorce.

Will Beaumont practices law in New Orleans and Metairie.  This article is not legal advice. It is just informational; don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer if you are in need of legal advice.

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