One important aspect of any divorce case is the division of property. Dividing assets and debts can be very stressful, as both financial and emotional stressors can surface during the process. Spouses can choose how property is divided if they have a pre- or postnuptial agreement or if they can reach a fair separation agreement outside of court. If not, it is essential to protect your rights and financial interests with a knowledgeable Livingston Parish community property lawyer.
Louisiana is a community property state, which means that each spouse receives an equal portion of their shared assets if property division is determined by the court. Each spouse receives that equal portion regardless of factors in their marriage.
At Magnolia Law, our attorney has worked for years in family and divorce law. We know that a divorce can be very financially stressful and that a fair division of assets is important to maintaining your financial stability after a divorce.
We know that you have interests to protect, and we work vigorously to defend your rights to an equal portion of marital assets. Our firm has the resources necessary to value assets, determine a fair split, and negotiate the intricacies of a separation agreement.
Not all property owned by a spouse must be divided during a divorce. Whether the property division is occurring in or out of court, the property that is subject to property division is community property, also called marital property.
Property, whether separate or community, includes any owned and obtained assets and debts. This includes:
Community property is assets and debts obtained over the course of the couple’s marriage. Any property, funds, or items gained by either spouse after the date of their marriage are presumed community property. There are some exceptions to this rule, but spouses have the burden of proof if they want to show that assets gained during marriage are not community property.
Separate property includes assets and debts obtained by either spouse prior to marriage. It also includes property that was:
Separate property is not eligible for property division in a divorce; however, the fruits (interest accrued) on separate property are community. If you have separate property financial accounts, it is imperative that you have any attorney knowledgeable to trace the pre-marital funds.
There are ways that separate property can be turned into community property, such as through purposeful transmutation or accidental commingling. This can complicate the process of dividing property. Before negotiations for division or court-assigned division can begin, a professional will likely be necessary to determine the category of certain assets.
States that operate under community property laws divide marital property equally between spouses. This is different from equitable distribution law states, which decide the split of assets based on several factors. In community property states, the court attempts to split assets 50-50. All assets are not split in half, but instead, each spouse receives an equal portion of assets. In order for this division to be equal, all marital assets and their value must be inventoried.
When spouses have a marital agreement made before a divorce or a separation agreement created out-of-court, they are not subject to community property laws.
Marital agreements, including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, can determine the division of assets if a couple divorces. They can list each spouse’s responsibilities and rights to different properties and list if certain assets are considered separate or community property. Marital agreements are enforceable by the court as long as they follow basic contract law and do not have any illegal or unconscionable terms.
Spouses can also use alternative dispute resolutions to finalize their divorce. These include divorce mediation and collaborative divorce, where spouses negotiate the terms of their separation agreement, including property division. In mediation, there is one third-party mediator, while each spouse is represented by their own attorney in collaborative divorce. These forms of divorce are typically faster and less expensive.
Alternative dispute resolution also gives more control to spouses to decide how they want to divide their assets. Spouses are not required to follow community property laws when they create a separation agreement. As long as the terms of the agreement are not unfair to either spouse the court will approve the agreement and make it a court order.
Spouses frequently have emotional ties to certain marital property, especially a marital home. Dividing marital assets can be stressful and potentially contentious because of this, but it can also be contentious because of financial concerns. A divorce will significantly alter each spouse’s finances, and this can make how assets are divided more serious.
Because of these stressors, even amicable spouses can find themselves in heated and emotional debates about property division. An attorney can help guide you through these agreements and make the process of valuing, categorizing, and dividing assets smoother. An experienced divorce attorney can support you in several ways during property division, including:
An experienced divorce attorney has handled straightforward and complex asset division cases and can resolve the division of your marital assets more efficiently and fairly.
Mistakes in the property division process or a spouse who is hiding assets can result in you receiving less than your share of community assets. The qualified property division attorneys at Magnolia Law can protect your rights and financial interests. Contact our team today.