Should You Try to Keep the Family Home After Divorce?

Classic American house with fence and green grass during spring.

Whether we live in Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Prairieville, or Sorrento, there’s no place like home.  Most of us have a house, a car or truck or two, a job, a retirement plan of some kind, and all the other stuff that comes with a formerly happy marriage.  When that happiness is torn apart by divorce, people sometimes deal with the pain by clinging to what once made them feel secure – the family home.

Should You Try to Keep the Family Home After Divorce?

For many couples, the family home is their most valuable asset. The home has symbolic value. The battle to stay in the house is not just a battle about the inconvenience of finding and moving into another residence. This emotional tug of war over what was once the love nest can blind couples to their own financial best interest. Getting the family home may also mean getting the family mortgage and the family lawn care and the family property taxes and insurance.Before you make getting the family home the ditch you are willing to die in, consult with your lawyer. Talk over your future financial circumstances.If you are relying on child support to pay the note, remember that child support ends long before a 30 year mortgage is paid out.

Assessing the Value of a Family Business in A Divorce

Managing family business

Lawyers sometimes refer to experts that their clients hire to analyze and explain complicated factual issues as “talking heads”. In cases involving high value marital property, talking heads are often a necessity.

Assessing the value of a family business in a divorce usually requires the opinion of a business valuation expert. If a husband and wife own a family construction business or a medical practice, valuing the business or practice is a complicated process. Experts must assign a value to these assets.  Assigning a value to a business, however, often includes valuing the assets that the business owns.

  • Construction companies own construction equipment, accounts receivable, the value of unperformed construction projects, and capital accounts maintained to replace hard assets.
  • Medical practices own similar types of assets.
  • Both types of enterprises may have “good will” in the community that is worth money.
  • Medical practices benefit from patient loyalty and the resulting referrals.

The value of a small company or professional practice may depend, in large measure, on the personality and drive of the spouse who is in charge. To come up with a fair value requires an expert with experience in the real world as well as in the courtroom. Such experts do not come cheaply. A decision to hire one and if so whom to hire should be made after thoughtful consultation with your lawyer. The cost of valuation should be weighed against the benefit to be gained in a division of the net result.

Splitting the Booty- How to Divide Your Assets in a Divorce

Treasure chest full of golden coins on white background

Wealthy divorcing couples often have enough cash (or assets that can be quickly converted to cash) so that if one of them wants to purchase the other’s interest in the family home or the family business, there is cash to accomplish it. For example, if their assets consist of $1.5 million in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds and an unmortgaged home worth $500,000, buying out the other spouse’s $250,000 interest in the house is easily accomplished.The spouse who wants the home pays the spouse who does not $250,000 from his half of the $1.5 million and both go away happy.

Not all divorcing couples have the financial ability to accomplish their post-marital goals, however. A wife who works as a paralegal does not have the buying power of a husband who is a senior partner.  If there is not enough cash for her to buy him out of the family home, she may not have the borrowing power to do it.

More importantly, buying him out of the family home may not be a wise financial move. Child support can help pay a second mortgage, but child support lasts only so long. You might be able to pay the notes, but not the insurance, the taxes, and the maintenance and repairs. Your lawyer can help you figure out how to divide your assets in a divorce.

Learn more about this and get more no-nonsense advice on how to deal with your divorce by downloading our free Ebook, The A to Z Guide to Divorce.


From Love Nest to Infest… Complications When Moving and Divorce

View of a Young man depressed while his moving out his flat

Courteney Cox, of Cougartown fame, has allowed her fiance’, Johnny McDaid, to move into her Malibu house according to the July 14, 2014 edition of People.  In that same edition, People reports the story of the “nightmare nanny” who won’t leave the home of the family who hired her to care for their children.  The family must now evict her which, in California, is “quite a lengthy process”.

Suppose your lover moves in with you in the house you’ve owned (or rented) for years but then refuses to leave when he tires of you?

What happens if your spouse refuses to leave your home even though the two of you are no longer a couple?

In Louisiana, the answer to the question will depend on the facts of your relationship – not the romantic one – but the other one, the legal one.

Was your lover paying part of the rent?

Was he helping with expenses in exchange for living in your house?

Does your husband or wife have the ability to move elsewhere?

Are there children involved?

Whether you are the evicter or the evictee, you need to speak with a lawyer about your rights once the romance is over and you are ready for a divorce.

Will You Still, When I’m 65? Long Term Care May Be Community Property

Old people holding hands. Closeup.

As reported in the May 20, 2014 edition of The Advocate, caring for your aged spouse is more stressful than caring for an aging parent.  One of the reasons is probably that your parent is 20-30 + years ahead of you.  When your parent is declining at age 80, you are still a relatively robust 50 to 60 something.  When your spouse gets to be that age, you are often not far behind.

At age 70, caring for a 70 year old is a different burden altogether.  For these reasons, many couples purchase long term care insurance that is designed to pay for caretakers when one spouse is no longer able to care for him or herself.  Some of these policies have features that enable spouses to recover some portion of their premiums if the policies are cancelled or no longer needed because a spouse has died suddenly.

In Louisiana, if you are divorcing and have purchased such a policy, you should discuss with your attorney whether or not it is subject to division as community property.


Recipe for Indigestion – Is Winning Chili Recipe Community Property?

Hot cilli con carne cooked in the pan

Three thousand people attended the 8th annual Louisiana Regional and State Chili Cook-Off at LSU in March 2014.  What if one of the lucky winners is asked to sell their secret recipe for a large chilipot of cash?

In Louisiana, this possibility gives rise to numerous legal questions.  Suppose that Mr. H. A. LaPeno obtained his winning recipe from his former wife, Cy Lantro.  Ms. Lantro might contend that the recipe was her separate property having obtained it from her grandmother on the latter’s death bed as a gift.

  • Would Mr. LaPeno’s use of the recipe constitute a conversion of Ms. Lantro’s asset and entitle her to sue her ex-husband?
  • Would it make a difference if Mr. LaPeno had enhanced the recipe with beans and extra chili powder?

In such circumstances, Ms. Lantro would need not only the advice of a lawyer specializing in the law of recipe copyrights and other types of “intellectual property” but also the advice of a lawyer with knowledge of Louisiana’s community property laws.  Ultimately, the value of the chili recipe will determine whether it is worth the financial investment that Ms. Lantro will be required to make in order to fight about it.  She may decide simply to eat and run.

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Ex-Crony Capitalism Beware: The Duty to Preserve the Family Business

Small businesses are the engine of the American economy. What if you are a Louisiana wife whose husband has run the family’s small business while you stayed home with the children or had the “day job” that provided financial stability? Can he close the doors, move the furniture and the inventory, raid the corporate account and start up a new company called “See Ya, Inc.”, as soon as he’s sued you for divorce?

The answer depends upon whether the business is community property. If the company was formed during your marriage (and you had noprenuptial agreement), there is a presumption that the business is community property. Spouses in possession of community property when a divorce petition is filed have an obligation to care for that property and preserve it. In this case, your ex will have a duty to preserve the family business.

Imagine that the business was your family home. The person left in the home could not vandalize it, set it on fire, or allow cattle to live in it. The same general principles apply to a community business. Although after filing for divorce your husband could begin a new business that would be his and his alone, he cannot act in a way that damages the success of the community business. You should do your best to monitor the family business if you separate and bring your concerns to your lawyer’s attention at the earliest opportunity.


Stay Out of The Rough: Dividing the Country Club Membership in Divorce

Country club memberships in Louisiana can be expensive. What do you do if you and your soon to be ex-husband belong to a Louisiana country club but you never want to see him again? Can you force him to leave the club so that you can golf, swim, and play tennis with some peace of mind? Dividing the country club membership in divorce can be tricky, and here are some tips to help you figure this out.

The first place to look for the answer is in the terms and conditions of your club membership. When you and your husband became members, you undoubtedly agreed to abide by the club’s rules. Those rules may contain a way to break a tie between the two of you concerning who may continue as a member and who may not.

For example, a club’s rules might provide that the club will abide by a court’s order concerning who is to continue as a member. If the club’s rules are silent on the question, you will have to obtain the right to be the sole member either through negotiation with your spouse or by formal partition through the court.

One solution might be to demand that your spouse, if he wants to keep the membership, pay you for the cost of a membership at a comparable club. Before you agree to that you should find out whether there is a comparable club that will admit you as a member. Remember also that there are membership dues that must be paid. You should make sure you have enough not only to pay the initial investment but also to pay the future costs of participation.

Louisiana Community Property Laws and Dividing the LSU Season Tickets

close-up portrait of the big tiger on stone wall background

King Solomon resolved a dispute between two women both of whom claimed to be a child’s mother by offering to cut it in two so they could share it. The real mother offered to give up her child to the imposter rather than see it killed.  

What do you do, however, if you and your soon to be ex-wife have two season tickets to LSU’s baseball games? 

What do you do if you have sat next to each other in Tiger Stadium for 15 years? 

To the extent your right to attend those games was acquired during your marriage, Louisiana’s community property laws presume that you own those rights together. Seats in a stadium can be divided “in kind”, that is, you can sit in one and she can sit in the other.  If you and your spouse cannot agree that one will get the football tickets and the other the baseball tickets, a judge can partition them as he or she sees fit.  Conceivably, you could wind up thigh to thigh at LSU football and baseball games for the rest of your lives.  It is hard to imagine a judge dividing them in this way. 

Common sense suggests that people who cannot live together should not sit next to each other during sporting events. Nevertheless, it might be a good idea to come up with a negotiating strategy well in advance of any trial on the issue.  Perhaps she might like the Maserati?