Some couples facing divorce are fortunate because they prepared for the situation ahead of time. Specifically, they may have a plan in place for dividing their property established in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Such a marital contract can streamline divorce and let couples pursue an uncontested filing even in the most contentious situations.
However, not everyone has a marital agreement on record. Others have a document signed improperly or in circumstances that will lead to the courts invalidating the agreement. If you know that you and your spouse will likely proceed with a contested divorce, a Louisiana family law judge will be the one who makes the final decisions on everything from who stays in the family home to how you split up the custody of children.
If you understand the basics of property division, it can be easier to plan for divorce and to negotiate with your spouse.
How will Louisiana family courts split your possessions?
When a judge must decide how to divide assets between divorcing spouses, they have to interpret state law based on what they know of the couple’s assets and marital circumstances. Louisiana is a community property state, which means that the income of both spouses, the property a couple purchases and the debts that they accrued during the marriage belong to both as marital property.
Assets that you owned prior to marriage, certain gifts and inheritances are sometimes exempt from division as separate property. Almost everything that you’ve acquired while married will be subject to division, and the judge will do their best to be as equal as possible.
How can you protect your property in a Louisiana divorce?
You can’t hide assets from the court without potentially risking serious penalties, but you can take other steps to protect certain assets. Going over your financial records, for example, could help you demonstrate that you purchased your vehicle with inherited assets from a parent or with money you had saved prior to marriage.
Any assets that you can convincingly claim as separate property may not wind up divided in your divorce. There may be other ways for you to protect certain property, but the options will directly relate to your current family circumstances and your financial habits.