There is always danger in doing things yourself for which professional help is normally required. Diagnosing and treating your own medical problems and doing your own legal work are among those things. While it may seem so simple–a matter of just filling out the forms–the danger lies is the complexities you may not be aware of. What does it mean if I agree to let my spouse have “sole custody?” What is the difference between “shared custody” and “joint custody?” What are possible consequences when we sell our house ten years from now if my spouse agrees to let me and the kids stay in the house all that time and he pays the note? (Most of these questions are addressed in other posts on this website.)
It is always a good idea to spend the $200 to $300 for a consultation with an attorney. If your issues are more complicated than you think they are, the cost of a consultation will save you time, money and grief in the long run. It’s a good investment.
However, if a couple has grown children, has lived separately for years, each rents his/her own place, has no retirement benefits or investment accounts, owns no real property (land, houses, camps, etc. i.e. “immovable property”), and has already divided what they have (i.e. “movable property”), and both just want to get a divorce without getting attorneys involved, it is becoming possible. Courts are opening up to the reality of these situations after all the economic upheavals in recent years. Some provide assistance through self-help programs and fill-in-the-blank forms.
East Baton Rouge Family Court, realizing that more and more people want a simple, inexpensive divorce, has posted forms and instructions on their website for several issues including divorce based on Louisiana Civil Code Article 103, for use when a married couple has already voluntarily lived separately and apart for the requisite amount of time: 365 days if there are children under the age of 18; 180 days if there are no children under age 18.
You can also find these forms posted below and you should be able to view and print them out. WARNING: These forms are formatted for printing on legal-size paper, NOT regular (8 ½ X 11 ½ inch paper). If you print them on regular-size paper, parts will be cut off and the forms will be incomplete.
Other issues for which forms are available are child custody and modification of child support. There are also instructional videos on child support, change of child support, and paternity.
WARNING: If you do not live in Louisiana, these forms may not be appropriate or adequate for obtaining a divorce in your state. If you live in Louisiana but not in East Baton Rouge Parish, you will need to correct the heading at the top of the Petition.
Here is the link for the forms on the East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court website under the Self-Help Center