Matrimonial Regimes – Termination of Community

Supreme Court of Louisiana sided with our client on an issue of first impression concerning the proper interpretation of Louisiana Civil Code article 2329 and the validity of matrimonial agreements when the parties fail to initiate the required judicial proceeding with a “joint petition.” 

The decision ended a twelve year litigation nightmare for our client that began when an improper judgment was rendered against him personally arising out of the sale of his business, for which he was never paid the full price. Unable to recoup more than about $100,000 from our client, the judgment creditor set his sights on our client’s wife’s income as a pharmacist by seeking to annul the separation of property agreement and termination of community our client obtained before the judgment against him was made final. The effort to garnish and make claim against the separate property and income of our client’s spouse was held to be improper and all claims against the client’s spouse were dismissed.

The creditor prevailed in the district court and in the First Circuit, whose en banc decision resulted in a 5-5 tie vote, leaving the district court’s nullity judgment in effect.

The Supreme Court reversed finding that the wife’s income was properly protected through the separation of property agreement. The Court held that a judgment creditor could not revoke the judgment approving the post-matrimonial agreement between our client and his spouse, which terminated their legal property regime and established separate property regime, even though the agreement was relatively null for the spouses' failure to file a joint petition. The failure to file a joint petition created a relative nullity that could only be invoked by the persons for whose interest the ground for nullity was established, the spouses. Thus, the creditor had no standing or capacity to assert the relative nullity of the matrimonial agreement in this regard.

Radcliffe 10, L.L.C. v. Burger, 2016-0768 (La. 1/25/17); -- So.3d ---, 2017 WL 362085.