Amicable Divorce

Straight Talk About Amicable Divorce

More and more couples approach me with inquiries about alternatives to the traditional two-attorney, court-hearing approach to divorce. Though divorce is always difficult, many couples mutually reach that decision for a multitude of various reasons and decide to part ways amicably. By the time they call me, they’ve often worked out many agreements about how they’ll care for their children and separate their finances, and they “just want to do the paperwork.”

I am both an attorney and a mediator, and I’ve worked with many couples in various ways to assist with amicable divorces. We begin with a consultation to discuss the various ways we can work together to be certain that we are all on the same page about the structure of the process and the responsibilities of each of us.
Sometimes, I represent one person as an Attorney and can therefore advise only that person, though I may meet with both parties to clarify agreements. I prepare the documents according to the agreements the parties have made, and the person who I don’t represent is responsible for bringing the papers to another attorney for a document review and consultation before signing them to be certain he/she is aware of all the ramifications of the proposed agreements.
Sometimes I work with both parties as a Mediator, usually when there are still decisions to be made, and then, serving as a Scribe, I write the documents according to the agreements the couple has made. And, because neither party has legal representation in this scenario, both parties are responsible for reviewing documents with separate attorneys before signing.
Sometimes, when a couple has worked out agreements on all issues, sometimes completely on their own, but often with the help of mediators, child specialists, counselors, and financial advisors, I serve only as a Scribe, writing their documents according to their agreements. Both parties maintain the responsibility for reviewing documents with separate attorneys before signing.
In all of the scenarios I describe above, I assist with the process, making certain the correct steps are taken and documents filed in the correct order.
Typically, costs range from approximately $2500 to $5000 for the work I do with the couple and the document preparation, and another $350 to $750 in filing fees that must be paid to the Clerk of Court when the documents are filed. This estimate includes the petition and service of process documents, a judgment of custody agreement, a judgment of property settlement agreement, and a judgment of divorce; and, it anticipates that the divorce is amicable, and that the couple has worked out agreements between themselves on major issues. Sometimes such things as retirement benefits require special, sometimes complex, additional paperwork, and such things as that are not included in this estimate.
I sign retainer agreements with clients so that we’re all clear about the nature and extent of the work we agree that I will do, and the client makes a retainer deposit. If, for any reason, the work turns out to be more complicated than anticipated and the charges for the time I spend exceeds the retainer deposit, the client may have to pay a bit more; however, if the work requires less time than anticipated, and there is money left once we’ve completed everything, the remainder is returned to the client.
I begin with a consultation in which I meet with both parties to discuss the divorce process, their particular situation and circumstances, and the various ways we can work together. A consultation usually takes about two hours, and the cost is a flat fee of $250.

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Free Divorce Forms: Sample Forms for Louisiana 102 Divorce

I am posting elsewhere on this website sample forms and some information about obtaining a simple divorce of couples with no children and no property. Later I will post information about other issues related to divorce. These are bare bones forms for the purpose of illustrating what kind of information is required. Similar forms are available free of charge through the Self Help Desk in the East Baton Rouge Courthouse sponsored by the Baton Rouge Bar Association. There you can also get help filling out the forms, instructions about how and where to file them and what other steps to take to get your own divorce. I strongly caution anyone considering using the forms posted on this website without some legal consultation and oversight.

Disclaimer

The person who acts as his own legal representative has a fool for a client.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  •    These forms are provided as sample forms for getting a simple divorce. If children (custody/visitation), support, restraining orders, use of house, health insurance coverage, property, retirement benefits, or any other issues are involved, talk to an attorney. The East Baton Rouge Parish Bar Association provides a Lawyer Referral Service through which you can arrange a thirty-minute (30) consultation with a family law attorney for under $50, which you pay to the bar. Not all family law attorneys participate in this service. You will be given an appointment with an attorney on the list who is available when you need the consultation. Call the bar association for additional information.
  •    These forms are made available as sample forms containing the bare essentials for obtaining a divorce under this statute. Similar forms, help filling them out, and instructions on how to proceed, where to go, and what to do next can be obtained at the Self-Help Desk for Family Law at the East Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse. The Self-Help Desk is a service provided by the Baton Rouge Bar Association with the assistance and supervision of local family law attorneys who volunteer. You will not be represented by an attorney. You will simply be given forms and assistance. You must file the forms, pay the filing fees, and see that all requirements are met for yourself. Call the bar association for additional information.
  •    These documents are for a no fault divorce according to Louisiana Civil Code Article 102. Getting a divorce under article 102 is a two-step process.
  • This first step, filing the petition, can be taken as soon as the spouses are living apart (two different addresses). If the spouses are the parents of children aged 18 years old and under, they must wait one year (365 days) to proceed with the second step of getting the judgment of divorce. If the spouses have no children together who are minors, they must wait six months (180 days) to proceed with the second step.
  • The second step is to file a “Rule to Show Cause Why a Divorce Should Not Be Granted,” obtain a court date, have the defendant served with these documents and an order to appear, and prepare an Affidavit of Living Separately and Apart and a Judgment of Divorce to present to the court. Either spouse can file the Rule–it does not have to be the same person who filed the original petition for divorce. If the person filing the rule does not have an attorney, he/she will have to go to court and appear before a judge to obtain the Judgment of Divorce. There is also a form (Form G) that the Family Court of East Baton Rouge Parish requires to be filled out and presented after examining the record.
  •    These forms are formatted for legal size paper (8×14), as required by most Louisiana Courts. If printed on ordinary size (8×11) paper, either some parts will be left off, or the printer will condense the text to make it fit. Neither is acceptable.
  •    The person who files the divorce is called the “Petitioner” or “Plaintiff” interchangeably. The spouse from whom the petitioner is asking for divorce is the “Defendant” (also sometimes called the “Respondent.”). The defendant must be served (have the documents presented to him/her by a deputy sheriff, for which the person filing the suit pays a fee) with a certified copy of the filed petition (obtained from Clerk of Court when filing) and a “Notice of Suit,” or he/she may, instead, sign a waiver of service notarized by a notary public in the presence of two witnesses. If the person being sued agrees to sign a waiver, the completed notarized waiver must be filed into the record of the court.
  • Terms used and conditions that apply to 102 Divorce:
  • − Plaintiff or Petitioner is the person filing the divorce suit.
  • − Every statement in the petition must be true and correct. If necessary, scratch out and write in information where needed. The judge cares more about the information being true and correct than about it being neat.
  • − The court where the suit is filed must have “subject matter jurisdiction.” That can happen in several ways. The form supposes that the Plaintiff lives in the district where the petition is being filed. If the suit is not filed in the correct court, it will be null.
  • − The court where the suit is filed must be a court of proper “venue.” That, can happen in several ways, two of which are listed on the form. One or both can be checked as they apply. If the suit is not filed in the correct court, it will be null.
  • − The matrimonial domicile is the place the married couple last lived together.
  • − If the marriage is a covenant marriage, the procedure cannot be used. Covenant marriage has a different procedure. A covenant marriage is created under special laws that require counseling, signing additional documents and other steps.
  • − If the couple has children under the age of 18, these forms as they are cannot be used they do not address custody and support issues, which the court may insist upon addressing.
  • − The person filing the suit must sign the “Affidavit of Verification” before a notary public, and file it with the petition.
  • –  For Step Two, filing the Rule to Show Cause Why Divorce Should Not Be Granted, either party can file. It does not have to be the same spouse who filed the original petition.
  • –  An “affiant” is the person who signs an affidavit.