Complex Property Divisions and Mediation
Disputes between who owns what are likely to arise during a divorce, or maybe you want to protect your property before getting married. Many people don’t consider protecting their assets before getting married. Louisiana is a “community property” state, meaning that when you get married, your assets (as well as income and debt) also become the property of your spouse if acquired during the marriage. This is known as the “matrimonial regime.” An end-of-marriage dispute involving property can thus become very complicated and costly for both parties.
Some examples of assets or debt include, but are not limited to cars, auto loans, furniture, insurance, real estate, investment accounts, or credit card debt. Taxes and retirement funds are also considered.
Unless you have a prenuptial agreement and the divisions are clearly defined, this sounds like a job for mediation, the purpose of which is to obtain a fair agreement between all parties without going to court, or even hiring attorneys.
When it comes to dividing property, the court will consider several factors, including the dates of acquisition, how expenses for the property were paid, is it revenue generating and to what extent, the skill necessary to operate the company and whether that skill belongs to only one party (for example, if the parties own a beauty shop but only the husband is a licensed barber, then it makes sense that he keeps the shop and offset the value with other assets or cash.)
We have seen parties spend upward of $120,000 fighting in property disputes after discovery, questioning, depositions, hearing, etc. Most people have a ball park idea about what their property is worth and can resolve it if they sit at the table and let cooler heads prevail.
Remember, mediation isn’t used to fight for what’s yours in court, it’s used to help you from going there in the first place. It’s possible that you may not get the outcome you are seeking. Once it’s in the hands of a judge, the matter is beyond your control.
When it comes to mediation, always think of court as your last option.