Louisiana is a Community Property state. Unless the parties have opted out of the Community Property regime, each party to the marriage owns a fifty percent share of the property that the Community acquires during the marriage. They also share fifty percent of the debts of the Community. The Community Property regime ends upon the death of a party, a judgment of annulment, divorce or separation of property, or by a formal agreement executed during the marriage. Property that a party brings into a marriage, gifts to a party, or property inherited by one of the spouses, is not considered part of the Community, and is called Separate Property, but if Separate Property is later comingled with Community Property it can also be considered
In most divorce cases the parties ultimately reach an agreement as to how the Community Property is to be divided. In some cases, however, particularly those where one or both of the parties are self-employed, or where the value of the Community or Separate Property is substantial, the parties do not agree.
Two issues are commonly involved. Either the parties are in disagreement over the classification of disputed property (that is, whether the property is Community or Separate) or the value of the property.
Reimbursement is another issue that is frequently involved. Community Property may have been used to enhance or increase the value of one party’s Separate Property, or to pay a party’s separate debts. The reverse can also occur where the Separate Property of one of the parties was used to pay a Community debt or to enhance the value of Community assets.
Finally, there are some cases in which one of the spouses suspects that the other has hidden Community Property. In all of these cases it is necessary to petition the court to have the Community Property determined, valued and partitioned, or divided.
The law relating to division of property is much too complex to be explained in detail here. What can be explained are the steps that you can take if you are thinking about divorce, and if you believe that there might be a disagreement over property. The sooner you take these steps, the easier things will be. This advice might also save you thousands of dollars in legal expenses down the line. See our list of DO’S AND DON’TS and contact the Cosenza Law Firm today at 225-647-6644 or send an email to arrange a consultation at our at our Baton Rouge or Gonzales offices.