Divorce Lawyer Examples: Using Separate and Community Property Together in Louisiana by Will Beaumont
Sometimes clients of a divorce lawyer have many questions about what is going to happen to their property. Here in Louisiana, we use what is called a “community property” regime to determine which pieces of property belong to the spouses equally, and which pieces of property belong to only one spouse. If a particular piece of property is shared equally it is called community; if it is the sole possession of one of the spouses it is called “separate.” The manner in which property is acquired typically is the way which a Louisiana court will determine whether the property is separate or community. Some things, like an inheritance given to one of the spouses by a relative, are mainly considered separate property. Other things, such as those pieces of property bought by the married couple with money that they earned while they were married, are mainly community.
More complex problems arise when there is an intermixture between community and separate property. Commingling of assets can make it very difficult for a divorce lawyer. Consider the following example.
Let’s say Billy and Marcia have been married for about seventeen years. In year fifteen of their marriage, they decide to buy a house. For the previous fifteen years they had been living in an apartment. After shopping around town for a little bit, Billy and Marcia settle on a nice four bedroom house in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. The couple takes out a mortgage in order to pay for the home, and up until year seventeen of their marriage, both had been contributing to the monthly payments.
Now let’s say that Marcia inherits a great sum of money from her uncle. The uncle does not give it to her and Billy jointly, but rather to Marcia, separately. Marcia almost immediately turns around and applies her inheritance to the balance which she and Billy still owe on the mortgage to the house. Instantly, the couple owns the house unencumbered.
Unfortunately, only weeks later, Billy contacts a divorce lawyer for a variety of reasons not relevant to our hypothetical. In the course of the legal proceedings, Marcia wants to know whether or not she owns more of the house than Billy does, because she paid off the mortgage with her inheritance. One source of authority which Marcia and her lawyer may turn to is Louisiana Civil Code article 2365. This particular Code article deals with the satisfaction of community obligations with separate property. In this case, the money which Marcia inherited is probably her separate property. Conversely, the mortgage which she and Billy withdrew to pay for the house is probably a community obligation. The reason is because the mortgage was undertaken by the spouses for the benefit of the marriage, and not specifically for the benefit of the spouse who incurred the obligation. One party’s divorce lawyer explains that, according to article 2365, if Marcia used her separate property to satisfy her and Billy’s community obligation, then Billy may be liable to her for up to half of the value of the separate property which she used.
This article is written to be general information only; it should not be taken as formal legal advice. Will Beaumont. New Orleans.
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In Louisiana there are a number of affordable attorneys. For a divorce lawyer, New Orleans has a number of options, so it may be a good idea to consult with several including Beaumont Divorce Beaumont Divorce.
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