One of the hardest parts of divorce is parting with your property. You’ve worked hard to acquire it during your lifetime, and now you’re facing the prospect of losing half of it. You may fear that you’re defenseless against its division. But by understanding Louisiana’s property laws, you will know what you can protect during proceedings.
Louisiana is one of nine states that follows community property guidelines. This method treats all property that you and your spouse acquired during marriage as marital property. This property includes assets titled to yourself – like retirement accounts or investment accounts – that you established or that increased in value during your marriage. When you two divorce, you will each receive an equal value of marital property.
Yet, you and your spouse may have drafted a pre-nuptial agreement that detailed how you planned to divide your property in case of divorce. If one exists and is valid, state courts will follow its terms rather than community property laws. Your spouse may also have engaged in economic misconduct – like overspending or gambling – during your marriage. If they depleted your assets, their actions could affect the share of property you each receive. Furthermore, you or your spouse may have provided educational contributions to the other during your marriage. If either of you did so, it could also impact the share of property you each receive.
You may have acquired property of value before your marriage or during your separation. Since it came under your ownership outside of your union, such assets qualify as separate property. Any property gifted to or inherited by you alone before or during your marriage also counts as such. The exception to this rule is if you commingled your separate property with community property. In this case, it will likely face division during your divorce.
Dividing your property can be challenging and frustrating. But knowing what you can protect may ease some of your concerns about the process. An attorney with family law experience can help you work toward a fair outcome.