Louisiana Divorce Law: Uncompensated Community Labor

Apr 2 08:54 2012 Will Beaumont Print This Article

Just because you are not getting paid for your work and effort during the marriage for something done for the benefit of your spouse or yourself does not necessarily mean that it has no value.  This article explores aspects of uncompensated community labor in Louisiana family law.

One common problem that faces Louisiana spouses going through a divorce is how to divide up the community property.  Community property (in many cases) is the property earned by the spouses during the course of the marriage,Guest Posting and it is divided evenly after a divorce.  On the other end of the spectrum is separate property.  This is property acquired by one spouse in a way that it is not considered community property.  For example, an inheritance that one spouse gets from a deceased family member, even if received while they are married, is generally considered separate property.  The subject of today’s article is how Louisiana law looks at contributions by one spouse to the other spouse’s separate property.

Let’s say that Dan and Diane are married for eight years.  Before they got married, Diane inherited from her aunt a lake house outside Shreveport.  The lake house is very modest, with a living room, a bedroom, and a kitchen.  Dan and Diane live together in Shreveport, and sometimes in the summers head out to the lake house.

Dan works as a master carpenter.  He is very experienced in framing, floating, hanging sheetrock, mudding, and also minor electrical and plumbing work.  Basically, Dan knows everything there is to know about how to build a house.  One day, after he and Diane have been married for six years, Dan decides he is going to build an addition on the summer house out on the lake.  Diane agrees to buy all of the wood and other supplies.

One year later, the addition is completed.  Dan did the work entirely by himself, and it took him about 1000 total hours of work.  The addition itself is quite impressive.  Although technically an “addition” it is almost as large as the size of the house.  It includes a sauna, a Jacuzzi area, an entertainment center, and a master bedroom.

Now let’s say two years later Dan and Diane decide to get a divorce.  One of the things that they disagree about is how they are going to divide up their property.  One particular issue is the lake house, and the work that Dan did on the house.  Dan feels like he should be compensated somehow for the work, and Diane does not.

First of all, there is a good chance that the lake house is Diane’s separate property.  For one thing, she acquired it before her marriage, and secondly, it was an inheritance that she received.  Assuming that the lake house is separate property, another place we can look to see the result of this hypothetical is Louisiana Civil Code article 2368.  Article 2368 explains that if one spouse through “uncompensated common labor” increases the value of the other spouse’s separate property, then the spouse who did the labor can be reimbursed up to half the value they added to the separate property.  Using our example, that would likely mean that Dan is entitled to half of the value of the addition that he built on Diane’s lake house upon divorce.

The above is purely informational and not legal advice.  Will Beaumont.  New Orleans.

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Will Beaumont
Will Beaumont

One complication during the partition of community property of a marriage is separating commingled assets. One type of commingling is using community labor on separate assets. For more information on this and other area of family law contact New Orleans divorce attorney Will Beaumont at Beaumont Divorce, 3801 Canal St #207, New Orleans, LA 70119 (504) 483-8008.

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