Louisiana is one of the small number of states in the United States that recognizes community property in a marriage. In a community property state, the property division process after divorce is done equally so each spouse leaves the marriage with an equal value of assets; as opposed to equitable distribution rules applied in other states that divide property equitably, or fairly, but not necessarily equal in value.
Community property division can be confusing. A couple may attempt to divide the property on their own, but a judge must still review the agreement to ensure it meets community property expectations. It is advisable to have a community property law expert assist with the division through mediation.
If you are unable to divide the community property through mediation, a community property and partitions lawyer can help you present your case to the court for the division to be made by a judge according to Louisiana law.
How Is Community Property Defined In Louisiana?
The word “property” in Community Property is loosely used to describe real property, assets, and debts acquired during the marriage, with few exceptions, unless otherwise defined as separate property in a pre- or postnuptial agreement.
Community property includes all income, assets, real property, and debts
- attained through the effort, skill, or industry of either spouse during the marriage,
- acquired using community property or a combination of community and separate property, unless the value of the community property is insignificant compared to that of the separate property,
- gifted to the couple,
- obtained by the liquidation of community property, or
- not characterized as separate property by Louisiana law.
All community property must be divided equally between the spouses as part of a divorce agreement. Items that are defined as separate property will not be considered in the division of property. Separate property includes assets, real property, and debts
- attained by either spouse prior to marriage,
- acquired using separate property or a combination of separate and community property if the value of the community property is insignificant compared to that of the separate property,
- received through inheritance or gift to the individual spouse, or
- obtained by a spouse as part of a voluntary partition of property prior to divorce.
There are exceptions to these rules, some examples include,
- separate real property owned by one spouse prior to marriage but was renovated using community property funds during the marriage,
- separate bank account established before marriage, but funds were then deposited by the other spouse during the marriage, or
- credit card established before marriage in one spouse’s name but then used to purchase community property.
If you have difficulty classifying community and separate property it is best to seek the counsel of a community property law expert.
How Is Community Property Divided In Louisiana?
Louisiana is one of few states that recognize the concept of community property. It operates under a set of laws that differ from most other states’ methods of property division. Community property in Louisiana is divided equally between spouses during a divorce, meaning each spouse is entitled to half of the community property.
Community property includes:
- All assets and debts,
- Any income acquired during the marriage, and
- Any property acquired before the marriage but commingled with community property during the marriage.
The division of community property considers factors such as:
- The duration of the marriage,
- The presence of children,
- Spousal support, and
- The contributions made by each spouse in acquiring the property.
To ensure you get a fair share of your property, you need to seek the advice of a qualified attorney. You’ll get a comprehensive understanding of all the property involved and get your questions answered. Contact our Lafayette, LA office today to schedule a free case evaluation and speak with our experienced community property attorneys.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Community Property?
While community property ensures fairness and simplicity in dividing marital assets, it may limit individual control and fail to consider specific personal circumstances. Below we list the good and the bad sides of community property in Louisiana.
Pros Of Community Property:
- Fairness: With community property, both spouses get an equal share, ensuring a fair division of assets, debts, and income during a divorce.
- Simplicity: Community property makes things easier by treating everything acquired during the marriage as subject to equal distribution.
- Shared Responsibility: It acknowledges the joint efforts and contributions of both spouses in building up the marital estate, promoting a sense of shared responsibility.
- Protection For Non-Working Spouses: Community property provides financial security for spouses who may have contributed in non-monetary ways or relied on their partners financially.
Cons Of Community Property:
- Limited Individual Control: Community property means both spouses have equal ownership and decision-making power, limiting individual control over personal assets.
- Unequal Contributions: In cases where one spouse has made significantly more financial contributions, community property may result in an unequal division of assets.
- Complexity In Assessment: Figuring out what counts as community property and separating it from separate property can be complicated, especially when assets are mixed together.
- Personal Circumstances Not Fully Considered: The equal division of community property may not consider specific circumstances, like pre-marital assets or contributions made post-separation.
Remember, it’s important to consult a community property attorney to understand how these pros and cons apply to your situation. At The Law Office of Tony Morrow, we can help you navigate the complexities and give you the full scoop on shared assets and the community property laws involved. Contact us today to get started.
Top Community Property Attorney, Lafayette, Louisiana
If you are in the Lafayette area and facing divorce, contact The Law Office of Tony Morrow to schedule a personalized case evaluation with an experienced community property and partitions lawyer. Do not delay, schedule your consultation today.