Divorce Law: Community Property Example in Louisiana

Apr 23 22:31 2012 Will Beaumont Print This Article

Community property is generally fairly straightforward following divorce.  But, classifying property can be heavily dependent upon facts.  This article presents a scenario of how property might be analyzed upon divorce.

After a couple gets a divorce in Louisiana,Guest Posting their property is often divided according to a “community property regime” framework.  This is because Louisiana is one of a handful of states which uses such a system to classify the assets of a marriage.  The system arguably has its roots in Spanish law.  Whatever its history, community property framework provides for relatively straightforward solutions to sometimes complicated marital property problems.
Let’s say that Steve and Kristen are married for five years before getting a divorce.  The day after they get married, they use a portion of the money they received as gifts at their wedding to go purchase a painting.  One year later, using the money which they have been earning from their jobs, they purchase another painting.  About a year after that, Steve inherits a painting from his uncle, and the couple promptly hangs that along with the others.  One year after that, Kristen and Steve both inherit a painting from Kristen’s godfather.  Three months following this acquisition, Steve is cleaning out an old storage unit that he had been renting since his college days.  It is filled with items that he had collected prior to his marriage to Kristen.  Among the items is—you guessed it—yet another painting for the couple’s collection.  Another thing Steve finds in his old storage unit is a motorcycle.  Because Steve no longer has the desire to drive around on his Harley, he sells it.  After the cash sale, Steve turns around and buys a painting.
One year later the couple gets a divorce.  In Louisiana, they are entitled to the opportunity to work out a division of their marital assets.  At first negotiations are very promising, but then they begin to break down when it comes to the paintings. Ultimately, Steve and Kristen enlist the help of some lawyers and a Louisiana family court.
A divorce lawyer cannot say with one hundred percent certainty what will result in this hypothetical case.  We can theoretically classify the property which Steve and Kristen enjoyed however, according to how and when it was purchased.  For example, generally anything inherited by one spouse is that spouses’ separate property.  We have at least one instance of this in the above example.  However, if the inheritance is explicitly made to both spouses, then it is community property.  We also have an example of this above.  Typically anything acquired before the marriage is formed is also separate property.  This would be the case for the painting that Steve found in the storage unit.  Also, any separate property which is used to acquire other property, even if done so during the marriage, that other property may also be separate.  This is probably the case of the painting bought with the proceeds from the motorcycle sale.  Finally, the remaining paintings are probably community property.  That’s because they were bought during the course of the marriage (and before the divorce), and with money earned or acquired during the marriage, in this case from wedding gifts and the salaries of each of the spouses.
This above is informational only, not legal advice. Will Beaumont. New Orleans.

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Will Beaumont
Will Beaumont

Going through the law in family law can sometimes make things seem a bit more complicated than they really are.  In New Orleans, divorce professionals should be able to assist with applying the law to the particular facts.

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