Dividing Community Property in Louisiana during Divorce Part IV: Reimbursement

Nov 28


Will Beaumont

Will Beaumont

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This article is part four of a series concerning dividing community property in Louisiana as part of divorce. This article presents reimbursement law.


Dividing community property during a divorce becomes difficult regarding reimbursement claims.  The vast majority of contested family law cases will have at least one spouse demanding that the other spouse give money to compensate for expenses that they incurred.  In order to make sure that you are being smart about enforcing or contesting such claims,Dividing Community Property in Louisiana during Divorce Part IV: Reimbursement Articles you need to understand both the law and then also how much it will cost in attorney’s fees to pursue such a request from the court and that it is financially worthwhile.

Despite this, it is common for parties to pursue such claims because it is their right to collect.  In the end, after you understand what the law is, it is clearly best to work with your attorney in making sure that your legal strategy is reflective of your interests. (It should be noted that it is not possible to exercise any of these options until the marriage has ended, as it is typically not possible to sue your spouse other than for divorce.  You may have a claim in successions, however.)

There are five scenarios to get reimbursement in Louisiana.  The first is where community property is used for a spouse’s separate obligation.  One common misconception with this is where one spouse has purchased a house prior to the marriage, and then both spouses during the marriage make mortgage payments.  Courts have said that this is similar to the non-owing spouse paying rent, especially if there is no equity accrued.

The next way to get reimbursement as part of a divorce is where separate property is used for a community obligation/debt.  A common example of this is where money used before the marriage is used for the benefit of the community.  Another example that frequently comes up is where money is donated to one spouse individually and then they take this and spend it for the benefit of the family.  In both situations, the parties will be able to request reimbursement.  There can be complications, however, where separate property is used to build a building on community land.

Another way to get reimbursement after divorce is when separate property of one spouse is used for the benefit of the separate property of the other spouse. This does not typically include gifts between the spouses, such as wedding rings or other gifts that are usual for that particular family to make.  Also, upon a valid donation to the other spouse and they use it for the benefit of their separate property, there is no reimbursement.

The fifth and last way of getting reimbursement is where the separate property of a spouse gained in worth without that spouse getting compensation.  For instance, let’s say that one spouse spends his time and energy working for himself fixing up a piece of separate property.  Any increase in value of this separate property will be subject to reimbursement upon divorce.

Will Beaumont is a lawyer in Metairie & New Orleans. This article is informational, not legal advice.