Louisiana recognizes community property rights for married people, which means, generally speaking, that all of the property that people acquire after they have wed their spouses is considered equally owned by both of the partners to the marriage. Marital property is property that is owned by both individuals in a marriage and is subject to property division if they divorce.
However, there is another form of property that individuals may own and that is important to understand. That form of property is separate or individual property. Separate property is property that a person exclusively owns and to which no one else has a right. Generally, separate property is not property that may be divided during a divorce settlement.
There are different circumstances under which a person may acquire separate property. They may own property prior to their marriage that they keep separate and apart from their marital relationship, or they may inherit property that they never comingle with marital assets or property. The parties to a marriage may also agree through the execution of a prenuptial agreement that certain property acquired during the marriage will be considered separate in the event the parties end their relationship in divorce.
While marital property is divided during divorce, separate property is retained by its individual owner. Properly identifying separate property is an important step in ensuring that a property settlement pursuant to divorce is fair. In order to achieve an accurate division of property, individuals contemplating divorce may wish to discuss their questions and concerns with their trusted Lafayette family law attorneys.