When spouses own property that is outside the state of Louisiana, it can be a problem for a divorce lawyer to attempt to value it and then partition it as part of a community property division. Generally, when spouses become domiciled in Louisiana and do not opt out of the community property rules within a certain length of time, their property will be subject to Louisiana’s community property rules. But, there are some technical rules in this area of family law. These rules fall into two broad categories: movables (cars, money, etc. ) and immovable property (land, things permanently attached to land, etc. ).
Movables: The default rule with regard to movable is, to state it simply, if one spouses is living in Louisiana and buys movables here, Louisiana community property applies to those movables. (To say this in a more technical sense, Louisiana community property law applies to movables that are acquired by a Louisiana domiciliary IF the movables were acquired in Louisiana when the acquiring spouse was domiciled in Louisiana. )
But, if prior to becoming subject to Louisiana’s rules of community property (by being domiciled here), and one of the spouses acquired a movable in another state, the movable would likely belong to the spouse that acquired the property with the other spouse being entitled to one-half of its value. (Again, the technical explanation of this is that the default rule does not apply for movable property that was acquired prior to one of the spouses becoming domiciled in Louisiana AND is outside of the state of Louisiana - the property is the separate property of the spouse that acquired it and the other spouse is entitled to half its value. )
One issue that seems to arise somewhat frequently is when the spouses have not ended their marriage, but have been living separately in different states and the spouse that is living outside of Louisiana gets injured and gets a large personal injury judgment. From the perspective of a divorce lawyer, it could be possible to try to get Louisiana law to apply community property law to this. (As a side issue, due to the nature of personal injury awards, it is likely that the amount that the non-injured spouse will get might be somewhat limited. )
Immovable Property: A divorce lawyer will generally treat this similar to movable property upon an end to the community property regime in Louisiana. Here, the default law is that the state where the property is located dictates the law. But, essentially similar to movable property, if prior to if prior to becoming subject to Louisiana’s rules of community property (by being domiciled here), a spouse got immovable property in another state, it will likely belong to that spouse with the other spouse getting half its value. (There are other exceptions, but they do not generally apply to a divorce lawyer. )
Immovable property in Louisiana: the divorce lawyer would likely classify the immovable property as community.
Will Beaumont is an attorney in New Orleans. This article is strictly informational and not legal advice.
Dividing community property across state lines is possible. If you would like more information, contact Metairie divorce lawyer Will Beaumont. For more information, see: http://www.beaumontdivorce.com/metairie