Family Law: Community Property and Partitions

Louisiana is a community property estate. Generally speaking, while living in Louisiana, and absent a matrimonial agreement (commonly referred to as a “pre-nupt”), married couples have community property. The question becomes, at the time of separation and divorce, what is community property and what is to be done with it?

What is community property? Understanding, as always, that facts are key, and that there are often exceptions to general principles, essentially the assets acquired during the marriage, and the debts or obligations incurred, are part of the community (in Louisiana, this is called the Community of Acquets and Gains).

While the property you or your spouse already owned before the marriage doesn’t change just because of the marriage, the fruits and revenues it generates may well be community property. Consider, if you owed a rent home before the marriage, while it would remain your separate property, the rental income it generates might well be community. This is but one example.

What happens when the parties divorce? The procedure is for the parties to determine what the assets and debts of the community are, and what are they worth. Is there a family home? What is it’s value? Is it subject to a mortgage? How much is still owed? Retirement plans? Bank accounts? Other real estate? Vehicles? And on, and on.

Once you determine the assets and debts, the goal is to divide same so that each party receives one-half of the net value. But often there are other considerations. The parties may have, for example, reimbursement claims.

Suppose, for example, that when you married, the other spouse had an outstanding obligation–say a student loan. If that loan is paid during the marriage, there may be a reimbursement claim for same. The principle is, essentially, the community money (“our” money, if you will) is being used to pay the spouse’s separate debt (“his/her” debt). There are others.

These are but some of the issues that can be raised in community property cases. We can help you identify the issues and prepare a plan of action accordingly.

Family Law Lawyer, D. Reardon Stanford practices in Community Property and Partitions.