No matter what the situation is, getting a divorce is never an easy ordeal. Whether it was a mutual decision between you and your spouse or it was a decision that was sprung on you, when you are going through the divorce process, there are several things you need to do in order to make sure you are prepared.
That is why in the below guide, we will walk you through Louisiana’s laws regarding divorce and provide you the steps you need to take to ensure that your interests are protected.
Division of Your Marital Property and Assets
Louisiana is a community property state. This means that all debts and property obtained during the marriage are considered marital property and owned together. Consequently, in a divorce, all these assets and debts need to be divided in half. However, before this happens, there needs to be a determination made about what actually constitutes marital property.
- Property that is obtained during the existence of the marriage through skill, effort, or industry of either or both spouses
- Property that is obtained with community and separate things but the value of the separate things is inconsequential to the value of the community things used
- Property that is obtained with the couple’s community things
- Property that has been donated to the spouses jointly
- Civil and natural fruits of the community property
- Any damages for a loss or injuries to an item belonging to the community
- Any other property that is not classified as separate property
In comparison, a spouse’s separate property is theirs exclusively. This usually includes the following:
- Property obtained by a spouse before the marriage
- Property obtained by a spouse with community and separate things when the value of the community things is inconsequential to the value of the separate things used
- Property that is obtained by one of the spouses with separate things
- Property obtained through donation or inheritance by only one of the spouses
- Damages that are awarded explicitly to one of the spouses
- Items that have been acquired by one of the spouses as a result of a voluntary partition of community property
Basically, most assets accumulated during the marriage are considered marital property, including retirement assets and pensions. However, inheritance or gifts directed to one spouse are usually not regarded as marital property and should not have to be divided up as part of the divorce.
Protecting Your Interests
Determining which property is considered marital property or separate property can be a complicated process. That is why it is critical that before you file for divorce that you take some time and get all of your paperwork and documents in order to help simplify this division and protect your interests.
Consider the following steps:
Gather Critical Documents
You will want to gather all the critical documents and reports that can help show the extent of your marital property and your separate property. This includes gathering and identifying your expenses, income, and any other documents associated with your financial accounts, retirement accounts, credit card accounts, car titles, property deeds, and all of your joint income tax returns.
Write Out a Timeline
Next, you should prepare a marriage timeline or rather a detailed list of the important dates and events that occurred during your marriage. This list can include:
- Purchases of property, including vacation homes or rental properties
- Purchases of large items such as motor vehicles, jewelry, and even artwork
- Dates where you moved to different houses
- Dates of when your children were born and whether either spouse took time off work to care for the children
- Whether a spouse received an inheritance or gifts from family members that passed away
- Jobs each spouse held during the marriage
- List of everything you own
- List of debts that you owe, including loans and credit cards
In Louisiana, disclosing all assets is an essential part of the divorce process. That is why writing down these details can help you have a clear, accurate, and complete accounting of all your assets. This can ultimately help ensure that an even split of your marital assets happens during the settlement process.
Open Up a Separate Account
Another good idea is to open up a separate bank account. This is not for the purpose of hiding funds, as you will have to disclose all of your bank accounts and credit cards in your name when filing for divorce. Rather this is to help ensure that you have funds available and a way to protect yourself from your spouse emptying your joint account or freezing your joint funds.
Be Careful What You Say
Unfortunately, as you prepare to file for divorce or are going through the process, your life will be heavily scrutinized. Every action you take can be used against you and complicate your case. That is why during this time, you need to be careful what you say about your divorce, who you discuss your divorce with, and make sure you do not post any information about your divorce on your social media accounts.
Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Working with an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney can be extremely beneficial during this complicated time in your life. These attorneys can provide you the legal advice you need, help you go after everything you deserve to receive during the divorce, handle any complicated issues that come up, and make sure you avoid any costly mistakes.
If you are considering divorce, do not wait any longer. Contact Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson today, or call our firm at 504-523-6496. Divorce is stressful enough. You should not have to worry about all the legal complexities involved with this process. Instead, let our legal team take care of the legal issues while you focus on taking care of yourself and your family.