Lake Charles Divorce Attorneys

Lake Charles Divorce Attorneys

The end of a marriage is a difficult and emotionally challenging time. It can also be a lengthy court process, especially in the case of a contested divorce. At The Johnson Firm, our Lake Charles divorce attorneys represent clients in protecting their rights and fighting for a fair resolution.

divorce attorney lake charles

What is a no-fault divorce?

Louisiana does not require grounds for divorce. This means couples can divorce based on living separately and apart, which is different from the at-fault grounds for irreconcilable differences in many states.

The time period before a divorce can be finalized is the most important thing to be aware of when pursuing a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce based on separation will be granted when the couple has been living apart for at least six months if there are no children or 12 months if there are children.

Contested vs. uncontested divorce in Louisiana

A contested divorce is a divorce with unresolved issues on which the couple cannot agree, such as child custody, community property partition, or spousal support. In a contested divorce, both spouses must present their case in court before a judge decides on the issues.

An uncontested divorce is one in which parties agree on all issues. Outside of court, both spouses can reach an agreement on issues like child custody, property partitions, and support.


An uncontested divorce is far easier and less expensive than a contested divorce. When a divorce is contested, there are often lengthy court battles and higher attorney fees to consider. Contentious issues may also be left up to a judge rather than the spouses. This takes away your decision-making abilities, which can reduce the chance that you will receive a favorable outcome.

An experienced divorce attorney in Lake Charles can help you negotiate with your spouse or seek mediation to reach fair terms outside of court.  However, if your case is contested, you need the best representation available to navigate the Court system.

How much does it cost to get a divorce?

No two divorces are alike, and the cost of each will vary depending on your situation. When you turn to The Johnson Firm with your divorce case, we’ll evaluate your case and provide a clear explanation of the potential costs involved.

Contested or uncontested divorce is the greatest factor affecting costs

We understand that divorce can be costly, so we’ll always work to minimize your expenses while still providing the best service possible. One way that we do this is by seeking an uncontested divorce when the option is available.

When a divorce is uncontested, it often costs less to process since there are fewer court appearances and less of your attorney’s time is needed. However, sometimes a contested divorce is necessary to achieve a fair outcome — but even then, we can come up with creative strategies to keep costs manageable.

Why do I need a lawyer for divorce?

The outcome of your divorce will have lasting effects on your personal relationships, your finances, and your lifestyle. Without quality legal representation, your future lies entirely in the hands of the court system.

Although the court is required to rule fairly, the reality is that the outcome of your case will depend heavily on whether you can adequately state and support your position. Unless you have extensive experience navigating the family law system, it can be very difficult to do this on your own.

Having an experienced Lake Charles divorce attorney by your side can make all the difference in obtaining a favorable outcome. This can translate to anything from better custody arrangements, to more property, to a more generous spousal support agreement.

Who pays attorney costs and fees?

In most divorce cases, each spouse is responsible for paying their own attorney fees. However, there are some circumstances in which one party may be ordered to cover the costs of the other’s attorney fees.

This is often the case in at-fault divorces where there has been misconduct in the marriage by one of the parties, such as adultery. Misconduct in the court proceedings may also result in court-ordered attorney fees, such as when one spouse fails to provide required documents or deliberately drags out the proceedings.

The court may also choose to order one spouse to pay the other’s attorney fees if there’s a significant income disparity between the two. In these types of cases, this can help to ensure a more fair outcome for the lower-earning party, who may be otherwise unable to match the legal resources of their wealthier spouse.

Legal separation vs. divorce

Some couples in Louisiana have the option to pursue a legal separation before a divorce. This option allows eligible couples to obtain many of the legal benefits of divorce without officially ending their marriage.

Perhaps the biggest difference between legal separation and divorce in Louisiana is who is eligible to pursue them. Traditionally married couples in the state may seek a divorce, while legal separation is reserved only for couples who have a covenant marriage, a special kind of union that makes divorce more difficult.

Even then, legal separation is only treated as a step toward divorce rather than a permanent arrangement. In a Louisiana covenant marriage, spouses may get a divorce if they’ve lived apart for two years without sexual contact. However, if they undergo a legal separation, they may reduce that waiting period to anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

If you and your spouse have a covenant marriage and are considering divorce, speak with one of our divorce attorneys in Lake Charles to learn more about your legal options.

How our Lake Charles divorce attorneys can help

An experienced Lake Charles family law attorney serves as your advocate throughout the divorce process. They not only assist with paperwork and legal issues but offer sound legal advice and help you reach an equitable agreement with your spouse.

If your case needs to go to trial, it’s crucial to have a compassionate divorce lawyer on your side to build your case and present the facts, especially regarding child custody, alimony, and property division.

What’s the process for divorce in Louisiana?

Before a couple can get a divorce in Louisiana, one or both spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months.

Determine grounds for divorce

Once that six-month requirement has been met, the spouse who plans to file for divorce must determine the grounds for divorce. If they choose to pursue a no-fault divorce, the couple must meet the minimum required separation period before the court can grant a divorce.

File a petition for divorce

This information about fault will be included in the petition for divorce, which will be filed with the local clerk of court. The filing spouse must also serve the divorce petition on the other spouse. If there’s a required separation period, the filing spouse will also need to file a Rule to Show Cause when the period has ended.

After the Rule to Show Cause is filed, the non-filing spouse may file a formal response to the divorce petition indicating whether they agree or disagree with the petitioner’s claims and proposed terms.

Move forward with a contested or uncontested divorce

If they agree, the parties may present the court with a settlement agreement for the judge’s final approval. If they disagree, the case will move forward as a contested divorce, and the court will decide the terms of the divorce.

How long does the divorce process take?

The length of your Lake Charles divorce will depend largely on two factors: whether the divorce is fault-based and whether it is contested.

Fault-based divorces

Much of the time involved in no-fault divorces is taken up by the required period of separation, which can range from six to 24 months. Fault-based divorces may be finalized more quickly because they lack a required waiting period, but because these cases are also usually contested, there may be an additional delay while the court considers each party’s arguments.

Contested divorces

In general, a contested divorce will take longer to resolve than an uncontested one. Trial dates are often scheduled months in advance, and the court may require you to submit additional paperwork or attend mediation sessions before a final agreement can be reached. In some cases, a contested divorce can take more than a year or two to be resolved.

However, representation from a qualified Lake Charles divorce attorney can sometimes shave time off the process by helping to reduce delays and move things along efficiently.

What are the final documents in divorce?

Once your divorce is granted, the court will issue a document that finalizes your divorce. Known as a divorce decree, this document contains all of the court’s rulings regarding your divorce, including property division, child custody arrangements, spousal support orders, and any other agreements that were reached in court.

If you have minor children from your marriage, your final documents may also include a parenting plan. This is a document that outlines how each parent will care for and raise the children after the divorce. It can include details such as visitation schedules, holiday and vacation arrangements, and methods for resolving disputes.

You should keep your divorce decree in a safe place since you may need to reference it down the road. In some cases, you may need to present it in order to obtain certain benefits, such as remarriage, or adjust your marital status on legal documents.

You can trust The Johnson Firm

If you’re preparing to file for divorce, your spouse has already filed, or you want to seek post-divorce changes to support or custody, contact The Johnson Firm today. It’s time to schedule a consultation with a passionate divorce attorney in Lake Charles, LA who can help you take the next steps and become your advocate. Give us a call at (337) 433-1414 to get started.

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You’ll want a partner and advocate who can confidently maneuver the emotional and financial intricacies of any family law matter. From custody, child support, and community property, to adoption and prenuptial agreements, we’re committed to protecting you and the best interests of your family.