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Attorney Keith Friley

Dividing assets for divorce can get complicated

The division of assets is one of the most critical issues when filing for divorce. Ideally, the couple strives to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement uncontested divorce, but sometimes their definitions differ on what that means. At other times, the divorce is more contentious, leading to charged negotiations and possible litigation in court.

Community versus separate

Whether the divorce case goes to court or not, specific rules and definitions apply to the division of assets. Louisiana is a community property state, which means that assets are divided into different buckets:

  • Community property: Also known as marital assets, community property in Louisiana is divided in half. It is generally defined as assets accumulated during the marriage, but such things as inheritance or an asset designated in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can legally remain separate property.
  • Separate property: This is assets or possessions accumulated before the marriage by one spouse alone.

The mingling of assets is common

The definitions can get much blurrier when couples start to mingle their separate assets after marriage, particularly longer ones. Once the couple intentionally or unintentionally mingles the asset, it becomes a full or partial community asset. This could happen if:

  • Marital funds are used to pay a mortgage.
  • A spouse helps renovate a home.
  • The couple uses marital funds to maintain a car.
  • A spouse provides financial (or otherwise) support or sweat equity in their spouse’s previously held business.

What can be done with mingled assets?

Generally speaking, mingled assets are either split in half or uneven portions. The marital property portion would depend on how long the asset was mingled or how much individual or shared income was contributed by the other spouse.

Every divorce is different

Like the mingling of assets shows, there are some grey areas when it comes to divorce. If the couple has a hard time agreeing on what they believe is fair, they may want to use family law attorneys to help determine ownership.