Hello. My name is Reardon Stanford, of Hoyt & Stanford, L.L.C. I’m a board certified family law specialist, and I’ve been practicing law for over 20 years.

You probably know that Louisiana is a community property state. You may not know what that means.

In Louisiana, we have what is called the legal regime of community of aquets and gains. It is a set of rules, laws and regulations that govern property and obligations, acquired during the marriage of the parties.

There are 2 aspects of community property–assets and debts. Generally speaking, assets acquired, and debts incurred during the marriage are, and are presumed to be, community. There are exceptions and the presumption is rebuttable so you have the opportunity to prove that an asset or debt isn’t community.

For example, if you inherit property during the marriage, that would be your separate property. If property is donated to you individually, instead of to you and your spouse together, that too would be separate property.

Of course, property that was yours before you got married, remains yours. It doesn’t “become community” just because you marry.

Those are just some of the possible examples.

Further, you don’t have to have community property. It is possible to “opt-out” by executing a separate property agreement–commonly called a pre-nuptial agreement. You can even execute a separate property agreement after you marry, but it’s more complicated and generally requires court approval.

There are a multitude of rules that govern both community and separate property and how to divide it when the circumstances arise. If you’re considering divorce, or marriage, it is in your interest to speak with an attorney.

Please contact me at Hoyt & Stanford and I’ll be happy to go over your circumstances in detail, and discuss your rights, obligations and, most importantly, options.

I look forward to hearing from you.