Louisiana is among the minority of states that continues to use the so-called community property standard when it comes to dividing assets in a marriage. Generally speaking, items that you acquired during marriage or purchased using income earned during the marriage become community property that both you and your spouse own together.

Typically, most of your substantial assets will be community property in a Louisiana divorce, but it’s possible that you or your spouse want to exempt certain assets, such as your home, from the community property pool in a pending divorce. A number of factors will influence whether your marital home is community property under state law and therefore subject to division.

Homes purchased or paid off during marriage are probably community property

Most couples focus a substantial amount of their income and time on investing in their primary home. Whether they work overtime to pay down the principal on their mortgage more quickly or spend time making repairs and upgrades to the property to increase its value, there are many ways in which Louisiana families invest in their primary residence. If you are both on a mortgage and both on the title, the fact that you share the ownership interest in the property is pretty straightforward.

Even houses owned prior to marriage can still be community property

If your spouse already lived in your marital home at the time that you got married, you might wrongly assume that they are the only one with a claim to the property. However, if you had to make payments on the mortgage or if you contributed to the upkeep and maintenance of the home, you may still have a partial claim to an ownership interest in the property.

The longer you stayed married and the more effort and money you invested in the care of the home, the stronger the claim you will have for shared or community ownership of the property. The exception to this would be if you executed a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage. In that situation, provided that the home gets listed as separate property of one spouse, it will be much more difficult for the other spouse to make a claim against the property.

Each case is unique when it comes to contested ownership interest in the shared marital home, which is why you will likely want to closely review any prenuptial agreement and other documentation prior to making any claims or developing expectations about the outcome of the divorce.

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