The term divorce describes the dissolution or legal end of a marriage. Each state has its own requirements governing when a divorce may be granted, including a residency requirement and grounds or reasons for the divorce. Divorce can be fault-based or no-fault, and Louisiana recognizes both forms. In Louisiana, no-fault divorce is available when the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least six months, if the marriage is not a "covenant marriage." In Louisiana covenant marriages, no-fault divorce is not available, and divorce may be granted only in cases of abuse, abandonment, adultery, or long separation. The desire to divorce is sufficient grounds for divorce from a traditional marriage in Louisiana, and there is no marital breakdown requirement.
The fundamental distinction between annulment and divorce is in the outcome of the two decrees. A divorce dissolves a valid marriage for causes ordinarily arising after the wedding ceremony. In divorce, the marriage contract is terminated prospectively on the date of the divorce decree. An annulment, on the other hand, declares that no valid marriage ever took place because of some impediment existing at the time of the wedding ceremony. The marriage contract is to be either void in its inception or voidable by one or both of the parties. When a marriage is void, it is as if the marriage never existed, and it is not necessary to obtain a judicial declaration nullifying the marriage.