Divorce Attorney - Analyzing Louisiana’s Putative Marriage Doctrine

Sep 14 08:00 2011 Will Beaumont Print This Article

Just because a marriage is not valid does not mean that everything is lost. There could still be some civil affects.

Let us talk about the putative marriage doctrine in Louisiana,Guest Posting which sometimes comes up for a divorce attorney. This doctrine is meant to protect a good faith party when a marriage is “absolutely null.” First, we will explain the meaning of an absolutely null marriage. Pursuant to the Louisiana Civil Code, a marriage is absolutely null when procured without a ceremony, with a legal impediment, among other reasons. The Putative Marriage Doctrine is set forth in Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure. The doctrine gives civil effects for a party in good faith.

A question a divorce attorney may be asked is, ‘what are civil effects?’ Civil effects encompass spousal support, interim spousal support, and even the existence of a community property regime. Here is how it works -

First let’s start by examining the effects of a valid marriage. If two parties contract a valid marriage in Louisiana, and they do not opt out of community property (usually with the assistance of a divorce attorney), then a community property regime comes into existence. If the two parties end the marriage, then the community property regime is terminated. Both parties can seek interim spousal support, spousal support. However, if two parties attempt to contract a marriage knowing of a legal impediment, making the marriage “absolutely null,” then there is no marriage and the parties are not entitled to the civil effects mentioned above.

So for example, Larry and Sarah know that they are still married to their respective spouses. Nonetheless, they manage to procure a valid marriage license in Louisiana. After 15 years of this “marriage," Sarah hires a divorce attorney to end the marriage. Because both parties knew of their previous un-dissolved marriage, neither party can seek civil effects. Furthermore, a community property regime never would have existed. Therefore, things for which they believed they could get reimbursed under community property would be their personal loss.

What if Larry lies and tells Sarah that he has a valid judgment ending his marriage with his previous spouse and Sarah marries him believing this? This is when the putative marriage doctrine kicks in. If Sarah is in good faith all the way through, then she can seek civil effects of the absolutely null marriage. Hence, even though there was never a marriage, she can still get spousal support, interim spousal support, and half the ‘community property regime.’

Why is this so important? Let’s say Larry worked for a fortune 500 company and had a pension. Money earned during the marriage contributed to the pension is considered community property in a valid marriage. Such is the case when a spouse is in good faith to an absolutely null marriage. A bad faith spouse is not protected under the putative marriage doctrine. Thus, Larry would not be able to seek anything from Sarah. It is important to know that same sex marriages in Louisiana produce no civil effects.

If you believe that you are a good faith party to an absolutely null marriage, then it is advised that you speak to a divorce attorney, as the above is not legal advice, rather simply informational. Will Beaumont works out of New Orleans.

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Will Beaumont
Will Beaumont

A Metairie divorce attorney is a professional in the field of family law. If you require these services visit: Beaumont Divorce of Metairie, 3814 Veterans Memorial Blvd #302, Metairie, LA 70002, (504) 834-1117 or Beaumont Divorce, 3801 Canal Street #207, New Orleans, LA 70119, (504) 483-8008.

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