One quasi-legal word which a New Orleans divorce lawyer is occasionally asked about is a “prenup.” It is an abbreviated form of the phrase “prenuptial agreement.” Generally when people are talking about prenups what they are referring to is the idea that couples who are about to enter into a marriage may contract with each other regarding the rights each has (normally property rights) during the marriage.
In Louisiana, the Civil Code provides for couples to engage in something similar to a prenup in article 2329, entitled “Exclusion or modification of matrimonial regime.” This article goes on to say that either before or during the marriage, the spouses can enter into an “agreement” which deals with “all matters” except those which run contrary to public policy.
One thing that article 2329 enables spouses to do is “modify” the matrimonial regime. When we say “matrimonial regime” what we are referring to, in some cases, is community property. A lawyer will often define community property as the property which the spouses accrue during the course of their marriage through their effort, skill, or industry. The paychecks that the spouses earn during the marriage for example, are community property. Community property is shared evenly between spouses, and is commonly divided, often by a divorce lawyer, if the marriage ends.
Let’s say we have a couple named Ted and Jane. They are not yet married, but have been courting one another for the past two years. Ted earns a salary of approximately five million dollars a year, working as a lawyer. New Orleans public school teacher Jane, on the other hand, makes far less. Even though they are very deeply in love, Ted is concerned about the prospect of getting married. He is very old, and he has already been married once. In the previous marriage which he had, Ted feels that he was duped by his ex-wife. They got married very quickly and soon after got divorced. Ted’s ex-wife was entitled to half of the money which Ted had saved during the course of that marriage. The ex-wife later told him that she just married him for his money.
Ted is fine being with Jane and not getting married. In fact, he sometimes thinks that the “marriage label” puts too much pressure on spouses, and people would be happier if they were not getting married all the time. Nevertheless, Jane insists that they “tie the knot.” Ted agrees, but only on the condition that they alter the terms of the matrimonial regime. Jane thinks this is a little cold-hearted, but she also understands Ted’s bad experience has led him to feel this way. She agrees to the modification of her property rights in the event that they are married, though she wants to speak with a divorce lawyer for some legal information ahead of time.
From this point they are free to contract about many different things. For example, they might stipulate that Ted’s salary of five million dollars which he earns every year is to be considered his separate property. This would mean that, in the event of a divorce, Jane would not be entitled to one half of his savings from his job.
This above is informational only, not legal advice. Will Beaumont. New Orleans
- Louisiana Divorce Law: Community Regime Examples
- Louisiana Community Property vs. Separate Property From the Perspective of a Divorce Lawyer
- Louisiana Community Property — A Hypothetical Divorce Lawyers Might Encounter
- Louisiana Divorce Lawyer: Another Community Property Example
- General Divorce Lawyer Information — Community Property and Separate Property in Louisiana