COVINGTON- At main issue, in a recent 1st Circuit Court of Appeal case, is whether the family court in St. Tammany can decide the outcome of separate property in a divorce when there was never community property.
Walker Allen, who requested the appeal, said a ruling in July indicates no because the law passed establishing the family court doesn't say it has the authority.
He said, “It's difficult to say from a percentage standpoint, how many people it will affect and retroactively how many people have been affected."
But the appeals court also called into question, in a ruling last week, the way the family court's jurisdiction was established. So could questions about authority over other family court issues be raised in light of the ruling?
Allen’s attorney, John Hollister, said, “If there is, it’s something that would have to be developed in other cases based on the specific facts of those cases."
The court administrator in the 22nd Judicial District said they started working on new legislation to fix the problem in July, when the first ruling was made. And the goal, according to Adrienne Stroble, is simply to be more specific and clear as to what authority the court has. State Representative Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, said the courts have the right make decisions like this one and the legislature will do what it needs to to help the court comply.
"I think the legislation will be drafted to just clear up, to specify what the areas of the court can deal with,” he said, “I feel confident we'll bring the legislation and tweak it and make it to where everybody's happy."
The other party in the case plans to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court for a supervisory review.
For more on this story, pick up the New Orleans Advocate on Saturday.