How to Categorize Property as Community or Separate

Louisiana is a Community Property State

Louisiana is one of only a few community property states. When you are married, everything you obtain from that point on belongs to the “community” between the married couple.

Community property is the property that belongs to the couple rather than to an individual. Each spouse owns the property in a kind of co-ownership with the other spouse and, generally speaking, each has an equal share.

The community property consists of everything that was acquired after the couple got married. Every paycheck, every debt owed, everything bought belongs to the two-person community of the marriage.

It doesn’t matter how the property is titled. If you are married, and then you buy a car “in your name,” it is still community property.

Separate Property

Separate property is owned individually. It includes what you owned before you got married and anything you were given specifically or inherited after you got married.

Assume It’s Community

When a couple is married, though, the assumption is that any particular thing is part of their community property. It’s an assumption made in the law. That assumption has to be overcome by evidence.

In other words, when you are married, you don’t normally have to prove something is community property, but you may have to prove it isn’t.
This distinction is important because community property and separate property are treated differently in successions and estate law.

The Fruits of Property are Community

While separate property belongs to the individual spouse, the fruits of that separate property are community property. “Fruits” refers to income derived from a thing. It can literally be fruit, like the fruit from a tree you own, but it more commonly means things like rental receipts and interest income. There are special steps that can be taken to preserve these fruits as separate property, but if those steps are not taken, they belong to the community.

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