Louisiana Community Property — The Basics

Community Property–A few key points

Community Property is:

  • The “legal regime” that governs property of married couples in the state of Louisiana
  • Established upon marriage—unless you opt out of it, you have it.
  • Terminated by death, divorce, or contract (matrimonial agreement) before or during the marriage–
    • during the marriage requires court approval but
    • married couples moving into the state have one year to do a matrimonial agreement without court approval
  • Property is classified as either community property or separate property
    • Community Property is:
      • Property acquired during the marriage (existence of the legal regime) through the “effort, skill, or industry of either spouse”,
      • Property acquired with community assets or a combination of community and separate assets,
      • Property donated to the spouses jointly,
      • Natural and civil fruits of community property, (harvests, interest, appreciation value),
      • Damages awarded for loss or injury to a community asset,
      • All other property not classified as separate property, and
      • Natural and civil fruits of separate property.
        • But, you can keep harvests, interests, revenues from mineral rights, rental revenue, royalties, etc. from becoming community property by signing a document and filing it into the conveyance records of the parish where the property is located.
      • Separate Property is:
        • Property acquired by a spouse before marriage,
        • Property acquired by a spouse with his/her own separate property,
        • Property inherited by or donated to a spouse individually,
        • Damages awarded to a spouse in certain legal actions against the other spouse,
        • A spouse’s share of community property after voluntary partition during marriage.
      • Debts can also be separate or community
      • Separate property does not automatically become community property upon marriage
  • Of course, separate and community property often gets intermingled, sometimes irretrievably. But there are rules and rights of reimbursement in some instances when:
    • Community assets are used to pay separate debt or improve separate property
    • Separate assets are used to pay community debt or improve community property
    • One spouse pays another’s school expenses just before divorce
    • Each spouse has the right to an accounting from the other spouse who managed property, but the right expires three years after the community is terminated.

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