North Charleston, SC asked in Divorce, Family Law, Real Estate Law and Probate for Louisiana

Q: I believe an illegitimate deed was filed after a divorce decree was signed. Can a deed override a divorce decree order?

A divorce decree left property to my sibling and I in the event of my father’s death. He passed recently and I found that his wife who lived in the property with him but never purchased or paid the “now free and clear” mortgage, name is included on the deed along with him. Is this a legitimate deed with her name on it since there were already orders placed in the divorce decree between our mother and father “who purchased the home together” to give my mother’s half to my sibling and I? Since the property was owned by my father before he remarried and he did not leave a Will, Louisiana’s Law considers the house “separate property” as opposed to “community property” but I’m not sure if the deed will override either this law and/or our parents’ divorce decree which was signed prior to the deed being changed.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Probate Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In Louisiana, a divorce decree that addresses property distribution typically has legal precedence over later actions, such as the changing of a deed. If the decree explicitly awarded your mother's half of the property to you and your sibling, this should be honored unless legally modified afterward.

However, the situation can become complex if your father, subsequent to the divorce, added his new wife's name to the deed. This could potentially create a conflict between the divorce decree and property law, especially if no will was left. Louisiana's distinction between separate and community property is crucial here. As the property was owned by your father before remarriage, it's generally considered separate property.

The legitimacy of the deed with the new wife's name on it depends on various factors, including the exact wording of the divorce decree and the manner in which the deed was changed. It's essential to have these documents reviewed by a legal professional to determine the validity and implications of the deed in light of the divorce decree.

Given the complexity of your situation, involving property rights, divorce decrees, and state laws on inheritance, seeking legal advice is strongly recommended. An attorney can provide specific guidance tailored to the details of your case, helping you to understand your rights and the appropriate steps to take.

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