COMMUNITY PROPERTY: About Louisiana Community Property laws — some things you need to know

Family Law and Mediation  —  Anita R. White, L.L.C.
2924 Brakley Drive, Suite A-3, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816

Community Property–A few key points

Community Property in Louisiana is:

  • The “legal regime” that governs property of married couples in the state of Louisiana.
  • Established upon marriage—unless you formally opt out of it, you have it.
  • Terminated by death, divorce, or contract (matrimonial agreement) before or during the marriage.
  • Termination 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, revenue 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  the other’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

Snapshot 2009-08-31 19-41-37 copy

Anita White