In Louisiana, marriage affects the property rights of both men and women. The rights of married people to buy, sell, or control their property, to borrow money, and to get credit are all regulated by law. “Property” includes almost everything: house, land, bank accounts, stock, pension plans, wages and other income and things of value. A married couple becomes subject to Louisiana’s community property law automatically upon marrying, unless they have made a special contract providing different rules to govern their property.
What is community property?
The community property laws provide rules on who may incur debts, how those debts are to be paid, and how debts and assets are to be divided between the husband and wife if their community ends.
A couple may make a written marriage contract before the wedding which sets out how they want their property owned and controlled. A marriage contract written before marriage does not need court approval for its provisions that are in accordance with Louisiana law to be enforceable. Married people from another state who move into Louisiana, and who do not wish to have their property become community property, have one year after they move to Louisiana to make a marriage contract to that effect without a judge’s approval. Their contract is also governed by the Louisiana law on separation of property, so the contract is valid if it is in accordance with relevant Louisiana law. Of course, after the first year, they too may enter a separation of property agreement with court approval.
By law, marriage changes your property rights. The community property law will apply to you if you do not make a special marriage contract. You may make this special contract before or after you are married, but some contracts written after marriage require a judge’s approval to be legal. If you were married outside of Louisiana, moving here has changed your property rights. You have one year from the date you moved to make a marriage contract without a judge’s approval. The contract must be signed by the man and woman in the presence of a Notary Public and two witnesses or executed by a private signature duly acknowledged. You should see a lawyer so that you will know how the taxes on your property and the inheritance of your property may be changed by your marriage.