Divorces skyrocket in Acadiana*

by Walter Pierce

A Lafayette attorney who specializes in divorce and child-custody matters tells The Independent she’s never seen anything like it.

“My phone is ringing off the hook. It’s like everybody wants a divorce all of a sudden,” says Candice Champagne of the Gaye, Love & Justice Law Firm in the Hub City. “I’ve never seen marriages fail at this rate. It’s alarming. I’ve filed 12 petitions for divorce since June 26 and couples are lined up to end their marriages.”

Champagne’s alarm is echoed by colleague Dean Crimms, a junior partner at Scotus, Healing & Howe in Crowley: “I can’t account for it,” Crimms says. “Just out of the blue. Thirty-seven requests for consultation since Friday. We’re staying open till [8 p.m.] every night this week to meet the demand.”

Brent and Julie Derouen of Cankton tell The Ind they decided Friday that their 34-year marriage is pointless and have decided to file for divorce.
Photo by Robin May

It’s not just anecdotal evidence of a divorce surge across South Louisiana— the attorneys’ observations are backed by clerk of court offices across Acadiana: 118 petitions filed in Lafayette since Friday, 43 in Vermilion, 62 in Acadia. Typically, according to Acadia Clerk of Court Pete Hensgens, his parish averages three per week. “It’s unprecedented,” Hensgens tells The Ind. “Marriages are just falling apart.”

The cause of the surge in divorce filings since Friday remains unclear, according to officials. Reached by phone, Lafayette Clerk Louis Perret tells us he hasn’t had time to analyze the divorce petitions because his office has been so busy issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“Wait a second,” Perret says in a moment of sudden reflection. “Nah, couldn’t be.”

In other news, TV3 Chief Meteorologist Rob Perillo reports that a plague of locusts sweeping down from the West Coast with an estimated arrival in Acadiana of late this week is “most probably El Niño-related.”

*Divorce is not actually skyrocketing in Acadiana. Traditional marriage is fine: Half are still likely to end in divorce. Some forms of biblical marriage, however — polygamy, marrying one’s slave and a rapist marrying his victim — remain illegal.