Virus Impact on Your Divorce, Especially Community Property
To fight against COVID-19, Governor John Bel Edwards ordered Louisiana business owners to close their doors. While you may not think this would have a significant impact on your property division matters during your divorce proceeding, it is now more complicated than ever. Thanks to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, we have no idea how long businesses will take to reopen, what the impact will be on real estate values, or how the stock market will react. This type of uncertainty makes property division more complicated than it may have been in better circumstances.
Family Courts and All Courts Closed in Louisiana
Currently, the courts are closed until at least May 15 and this may be extended. What this means for your divorce proceedings is unknown at this time since we can expect a significant backlog once the courts do reopen. This means some divorce proceedings, including community property divisions, will be delayed, although in some cases, hearings will be conducted and final orders may issued through teleconferences.
Handling Property Division During COVID-19
An important aspect of the division of community property is property valuation. The Court must know the value of the various marital assets in order to fairly and equally divide the property of the parties. Our firm has access to a slew of experts to assist us in valuing community property. During this down time, it is a good time to get experts involved to start valuing the assets of the parties, if the size and value of the community warrants such expenditures. However, these unusual times make evaluating property more challenging than ever. Additionally, if your marital estate involves one or more business interests, stocks or other investment portfolio, real estate, or retirement accounts, COVID-19 will likely impact their value.
How to Protect Property Interests Amid COVID-19
There are some things you can do which will protect your property interests while the courts are closed. At Brown Weimer LLC, we encourage you to be proactive during this time and take some steps to protect yourself. Some options open to you include:
- Active and Open Engagement — your best option during these uncertain times is to engage in discussions with your partner. Try to reach an agreement regarding what you will do about property which will be divided during your divorce proceedings. If you are able to come to an agreement, get it in writing.
- Develop an Asset Plan — one issue of grave concern is one spouse or the other liquidating assets to maintain their financial status during this difficult time. Make a list of assets comprising the marital property.
- Develop a Liability Plan — you should also examine the marital liabilities and list those. The list of assets and liabilities should be backed up with source documents like bank statements, credit card statements and the like.
- Obtain a temporary restraining order and injunction– it is possible to request and be given an emergency order to make sure there are no assets liquidated until such time as the court approves the division of community property or the parties agree on the division. If you believe your spouse or former spouse is using community assets or running up debts, contact an attorney to get a restraining order against alienation, encumbering, using, or transferring community property until it is properly divided.
We understand communication may not be feasible, particularly if you have had challenges with communications as part of your overall divorce proceedings.
Should you need to get an emergency order to ensure there is no property liquidated, or if you wish to move forward on your community property division, contact Brown Weimer LLC at 504-561-8700 for a free consultation.