Here are some frequently asked questions along with their answers to clear up the doubts that you might have.
How does the state of Louisiana regulates a married person’s ability to buy property?
Well, that depends on the kind of property that we're talking about. Louisiana recognizes two different kinds of property: movable and immovable. They are pretty much exactly like they sound. Immovable property is stuff like land, permanent buildings connected to the land, yadda yadda yadda... Movable property is everything else. Each has different rules associated with it.
Unlike the common law rules of property acquisition followed in the other 49 states, Louisiana doesn't really have a doctrine specifically for lost or abandoned property. Instead, you can acquire property in a few different ways. You can be the original possessor (like hunting), you can buy it, or you can possess it for long enough that it becomes yours. This last one is the most important for claiming abandoned property.
Just because some property is abandoned doesn't mean that it is legally unowned under Louisiana law. If you possess something that you don't own, the owner can, of course, file a law suit to get it back from you but they have a limited amount of time to file the suit. Once the cause of action prescribes, the possessor acquires ownership of the thing. This process is called acquisitive prescription and applies to both movable and immovable property.
Aside: Common law jurisdictions call the process for acquiring real property (analogous to immovable property) adverse possession because the possessor is possessing the property in a way adverse to the owner but the rules and policies vary widely form one jurisdiction to another. The common law process for acquiring abandoned property falls under its own doctrine with its own set of rules.
You can acquire property by prescription in two different ways: good faith and bad faith. Good faith essentially means that you think you own the thing anyway, when really you don't. If someone sells you stolen goods and you don't know they're stolen then you aren't really the owner but you do have a good faith belief that you are the owner. If you find an abandoned bicycle in the middle of the swamp and just take it, you are a bad faith possessor (even though you and I and everyone else knows that you aren't really stealing that rusty piece of crap from anyone).
So for immovable property that you possess in good faith, with just title (an official manifestation that the title was properly transferred to you even though it wasn't really (this manifestation can take several forms)), you can acquire ownership through prescription after 10 years of continuous possession.
If you don't have good faith or just title, which is likely since you intend on possessing property you know is abandoned, then prescription runs at 30 years. It's a long time, but it does happen!
For movable property you possess, you can acquire ownership by prescription after 3 years if you have good faith and the transfer of property to you has to be of the kind required for the property. Some things require certain paperwork to sell but most things don't require anything in particular. As long as the sale would otherwise be legit, then you can meet this requirement.
To acquire movable property through bad faith possession, prescription runs at 10 years. So it takes 10 years of possession to become the owner of that crappy abandoned bike you found in the middle of the swamp. And this length of time is probably the answer to your question. But now you know about Louisiana's acquisitive prescription law!
Small end note: Even though you become the legal owner after a certain time, you may, in some instances, need to file a suit to make sure your ownership is legally recognized so you can sell the property, especially if you prescriptively acquire immovable property in bad faith.
How hard would it be to go from living in one of the 49 common law states in the US to living under civil law in Louisiana?
There is not that much difference between the general law in the rest of the US and the civil law in Louisiana. And keep in mind that the common law of the US is in reality a widely varying system, different in every state. Moving from Illinois to, oh, South Carolina might well be more of a change in law than a move to Louisiana. And going from California to South Carolina would likely be something of a greater change.
Keep in mind that civil law covers only the relations between the people of the state. Family law, such as marriages and divorces, the status of children, and relations between husband and wife, including community property; property law, including real estate and personal property, and how property is transferred; decedents estates, including intestate successions and wills, and, just off this, gifts and donations; contract law, in all its guises; and non- contractual obligations such as torts but also relations between neighbors: these are based on the Civil Code.
But again, there aren't many differences that the person moving to Louisiana will notice. Again, vocabulary is likely different, but how hard can that be to learn ? The idea of putative marriage is different from the common law idea of what happens if a marriage is bigamous or if a marriage ceremony is flawed - but, really, how often does that come up ? And what do you know about how or if common law marriage works in your state ? Thought you didn't really.
Louisiana law about alimony after a divorce might be a change. Some places, I understand, provide that the spouse at fault in the break-up of a marriage is to pay alimony to the innocent party, with the amount of alimony in some proportion to the degree of fault. In Louisiana, the party at fault, if one is, cannot receive alimony, that is, spousal support, and the amount is an essentially economic decision, not a punitive one. A number of states, I also understand, have much the same rules.
Louisiana has community property rules, affecting the property acquired during a marriage. But so do Texas and California, and a number of other states, so again Louisiana is not so different.
Property law is different in Louisiana. There is no such thing as real estate which a person holds in Louisiana - there is immovable property, which is owned. But immovable property pretty well corresponds to the idea of real estate, so as a practical matter, there is not so much difference.
One big difference, big to lawyers, is that in Louisiana there are no future interests, no entail, in land, so the whole vexed problem of the rule against perpetuities never arises. Other places have life estates, terms for years, and indefinite terms; Louisiana has usufructs, which includes them all.
Moveable property law is pretty much the same as the general run of other states's law on personal property.
Intestate successions work much the same way as everywhere, but I have been told Louisiana court procedure about probate is much simpler than other places.
Wills, again are much the same, though Louisiana may have more will forms available than other states do. But the older ones, the different ones, are seldom used.
As to gifts, or donations, between living persons, well, I don't know enough about other states to say anything interesting. Louisiana did validate charitable subscription donations earlier than other states did, so if you agree to give money or things to a school in Louisiana, you should plan on actually doing so.
Contract law, or the Louisiana law of conventional obligations, has one big difference, one that folks with business educations seem to find very different: there is no requirement for bargain consideration for a contract to be valid in Louisiana. Agreement and lawful cause is enough, though there well may be a formal requirement, much like in the statute of frauds.
Those two differences, that there are no future interests in land and no requirement for bargain consideration for contracts are the big legal differences between Louisiana civil law and the general run of common law in the other states which use common law. For readers from California, you might find a comparison of the California Civil Code to the Louisiana Civil Code an interesting exercise. And if your state was an organized part of Spanish North America, the idea of community property should not be a surprise, nor should a lot of family law seem so different.
The public law of Louisiana, that is the organization of the state and the relations between the citizen and the state, including taxes, is well within the range of the public law of the rest of the states. Louisiana actually has a pretty modern state constitution.
Again, there are differences in vocabulary, but they are pretty trivial. I do wonder about people who find the Louisiana term parish so difficult. It is the equivalent of county - how hard is that ? I have wondered at what a New Jersey township is - but have never been that interested in looking at what is likely a historical artifact.
Louisiana criminal law is much like other states' criminal codes - and was actually the first modern codified criminal law in the US. Louisiana does not have common law crimes - does Pennsylvania still have uncodified laws of murder and felony murder ?
Louisiana criminal procedure is pretty much the same as everywhere else in the US.
Louisiana uses the Uniform Commetcial Code - which seems a very unsatisfactory bunch of statutes to this lawyer. Louisiana corporate law is within the general run of US corporate law, as is Louisiana banking law.
Louisiana Civil Procedure is a fact pleading system, and was, actually, the first one of these in the US. Many lawyers may recall that the New York Field Code was the beginning of the end for common law pleading in the US - but the Field Code was a lift from the Louisiana Code of Practice. Mr Field in New York had a brother-in-law who moved to Louisiana, a Mr. Livingston, who was a legislative reporter in Louisiana when Louisiana became an American territory and then a US state. As reporter, he essentially drafted to Louisiana Code of Practice, starting as a translation of the French and Spanish procedures. These procedures had never known the split between common law pleading and equity, and Louisiana had made them fact pleading systems. Livingston sent a copy of his work to Field, and so the Field Code began.
Livingstone in Louisiana was also the reporter for the Louisiana Civil Code of 1825, and he sent copies of that to his New York relatives. One of them, Stephen J Field, went to California. When California became a state, it needed laws in accord with US practices, which Field as a big deal legislator helped provide. That is how the Louisiana Civil Code spread west, as did the Louisiana procedural system.
Stephen Field had quite a political career in California, eventually as the 5th Chief Justice of California. Even more, he was appointed to the US Supreme Court by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, to a newly created Supreme Court seat, and became the longest serving associate justice. Many lawyers will be familiar with his US Supreme Court opinions, such as Pennoyer v Neff, though they might not remember the name.