Covington Divorce Attorney Explains Division of Property in Louisiana
Firm also has office in Metairie to help spouses protect their financial interests
Louisiana law provides a relatively clear picture of how property should be divided in a divorce. In the real world, however, situations can get much more complicated. At Conroy Law Firm, our focus is on making sure our divorcing clients understand their rights. From there, we carefully plan a strategy to help them achieve the best possible resolution either through negotiation or in court. We represent clients in divorce cases throughout Southeast Louisiana from our offices in Covington and Metairie.
Louisiana is a community property state
The general rule in Louisiana is that all property acquired during the marriage belongs equally to both parties. This property is known as “marital property” or “community property.” Courts try to split community property evenly during a divorce, but it is possible to negotiate with your spouse or argue in court about why you should be able to receive full ownership of a particular asset. When the parties in a divorce cannot agree on how to divide marital property, the court will make these decisions with the intent of treating the parties equally. Whether your goal is to keep your house or force its sale, our firm is dedicated to getting your results.
How is community property divided in Louisiana?
Community property division is a three-step process:
- Identify community property — Each party discloses their financial holdings, making their case as to whether an asset or debt is community or separate property. Disputes often arise when parties are not transparent, attempt to hide assets or claim that items are theirs alone because they were acquired prior to the marriage or for another reason. We investigate using all the tools of the discovery process, including subpoenas of financial records.
- Value community property — Each asset and debt in the marital estate must have a value assigned. Disputes arise when one party believes the other has appraised an asset at too high or too low a valuation.
- Distribution — The court seeks to divide the marital estate 50-50. This can be difficult to do if one asset, such as the family home, outweighs the value of all other property. There might also be extenuating circumstances that argue for an uneven distribution of wealth.
Throughout the process, we provide determined representation to help see that you receive a fair share of your marital property.
What is considered separate property in Louisiana?
Not all property is considered community property in a marriage. Property that the parties brought with them into the marriage is often considered “separate property,” as are gifts or inheritances directed to one spouse individually. Any income earned from separate property during the course of the marriage usually becomes community property, but a prenuptial agreement (matrimonial agreement) entered into before marriage can set forth different terms. Separate assets do not get divided, as they already belong to one of the parties. When appropriate, we help clients demonstrate that their assets should be considered separate property.
Is inheritance separate property in Louisiana?
An inheritance given specifically to one spouse is that spouse’s separate property. However, doubts often arise as to the intent of the gift. An inheritance given jointly to a married couple is marital property. It is also possible that an inheritance given to one spouse becomes marital property because of the way the recipient spouse used it, a process known as commingling. For example, if a spouse receives a sum of money and uses it to remodel the couple’s jointly owned home, that spouse cannot claim a greater share in ownership of the home absent some prior agreement.
How long do you have to settle community property in Louisiana?
This question isn’t about finalizing the division of community property in divorce. Rather, this concerns the situation where a couple moves to Louisiana and is now subject to community property law. The state allows the couple one year to come to an agreement about their property and sign a matrimonial contract that enumerates their rights. Our firm can assist in the negotiation and drafting of such post-marital agreements.
Helping clients keep their homes in divorce
During a divorce, each spouse has an equal right to manage marital property, including homes. Often, one or both spouses want to keep their Covington- or Metairie-area home. The parties will come to an agreement that allows one of them to keep the home in exchange for other property. Alternatively, they can choose to sell the property and divide the proceeds. The same rules apply for cars and other marital assets. Our family law attorney works to ease the financial burdens associated with divorce, keeping you in your home when possible.
Dealing with the division of retirement accounts in a Louisiana divorce
Financial assets can be more complicated than just money and real estate. In some cases, retirement accounts and other special financial instruments exist and are subject to division. One option in these cases is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) signed by a judge to provide benefits to the nonemployee spouse at the appropriate time.
Trust our highly responsive firm to help you keep your property in a divorce
At Conroy Law Firm, APLC, we have a strong reputation in the community. Throughout Jefferson, St. Tammany and Orleans parishes, divorcing spouses trust us to provide caring, effective legal counsel. Call us now at 985-606-3885 or contact us online to speak to an experienced attorney. We represent clients in courts on both the North Shore and the South Shore.