In Louisiana, marital property generally includes assets and debts the spouses acquire during the course of the marriage. A key principle to grasp is the concept of “community property.”
Louisiana is one of only nine states that adheres to this system when it comes to dividing marital property in divorce.
Separate property: What remains personal
Not all property falls under the umbrella of community property. Property obtained before the marriage or as an inheritance or gift during the marriage is generally separate property. Separate property remains the sole possession of the spouse who acquired it, and it is not subject to division during divorce proceedings.
The presumption of equal sharing: Dividing community property
Equal sharing is one aspect of Louisiana’s approach to property division. This means that, in the absence of an agreement between the spouses, the court typically aims to divide the community property equally between them. This principle emphasizes fairness and strives to ensure that both parties receive an equitable share of the marital assets and debts.
Family homes, income and earnings, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, furniture and household items, business interests, jewelry and personal property, and real estate can generally qualify as marital property. However, many exceptions exist. For example, a bank account opened before the marriage might be separate property.
Complexities in property division: Commingled assets and misconduct
While the community property system may seem straightforward, determining what is community property and what is separate property can be complex. For instance, take assets one spouse acquired before the marriage but then mingled with community assets. This commingled property could be subject to division.
Furthermore, if one spouse can demonstrate that the other engaged in misconduct, such as wasting or dissipation of assets, the court may consider this when dividing property. The court may also consider factors such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial contributions and the economic needs of each party.