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What do community property rules mean for Louisiana divorces?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Divorce |

Divorce typically causes the destabilization of someone’s daily life, at least temporarily. People may change where they live, completely rework household budgets and adjust to new schedules. Unless they already have a written agreement with their spouse, an individual preparing for divorce will also need to prepare for the division of their property.

Each spouse will retain some of the assets from the marital estate either because of a settlement between spouses or a property division order from a Louisiana family law judge. Some couples quickly agree on how to split their property, but others find themselves disagreeing on what to do with their marital assets. In scenarios where people can’t seem to agree on the right way to handle property division, a Louisiana judge can have the final say in such matters. Their application of the state’s community property law will determine what each spouse will retain ownership of moving forward.

How community property works in Louisiana

The income that both spouses earn during the marriage and the other assets that they acquire are classified as marital property, with a few exceptions. For example, gifts and inherited assets are often not part of a marital estate in a Louisiana divorce unless people commingle those assets with marital property or intentionally add their spouse as a co-owner.

Almost all other property could be subject to division. What each spouse earned during the marriage will be divisible, as will assets held in the name of only one spouse. The community property rules in Louisiana require a 50/50 split of community property unless a judge determines that this approach would be inequitable due to a couple’s unique circumstances. Therefore, many spouses focus their efforts on locating as much of the marital estate as possible, assigning appropriate values to those assets and clarifying what assets are separate and not subject to division.

To achieve a 50/50 split, a judge could decide to divide the value of each asset individually or to consider the cumulative value of all of the marital property and debts. They can also order the sale of certain assets instead of simply awarding them to one spouse or the other, which means the terms of a final order are nearly impossible to predict.

Learning about what happens with assets during Louisiana divorces can help those trying to prepare for the future better understand what resources they will have at their disposal after the divorce. This knowledge may also inspire couples to reach an equitable settlement out of court – if possible – in order to retain more control over the outcome of their case.