What is spousal support?
In Louisiana, spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, is payment from one spouse to the other spouse who earns less income. In a divorce proceeding, the court may award interim periodic spousal support or final periodic spousal support to a party free from fault in the divorce proceeding. Spousal support is ordered for the purpose of allowing the spouse with lesser income to pay for his or her living expenses and other needs. Spousal support will not be awarded to a spouse that makes greater income or that is at fault in the marriage. The court will determine whether to award spousal support and the amount it should be based on the needs of the party with lesser income, and the ability of the party with greater income to pay.
What is interim spousal support?
Interim spousal support is any support paid while a demand for final spousal support is pending. In determining whether or not to award interim spousal support the court will consider:
- The needs of the party with lesser income
- The ability of the party with greater income to pay support
- The standard of living of the parties during the marriage.
Interim spousal support will either terminate once a judgment awarding or denying final periodic spousal support is rendered, or one-hundred and eighty days after the judgment of divorce, whichever occurs first. If the party is able to show good reason, the court may extend interim spousal support beyond the one hundred and eighty-day limit. Any obligation for final periodic spousal support will not begin until interim spousal support has ceased.
What is final spousal support?
Final period spousal support may be awarded in situations where a spouse has not been at fault for the demise of the marriage and is in need of support.
There are several factors that the court will look at to determine whether or not to award final periodic spousal support. These factors include:
- The income and the means of the parties
- The financial obligations of the parties
- The earning capacity of the parties
- The effect of child custody on a party’s earning capacity
- The time needed for the claimant to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment
- The health of the parties
- The age of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The tax consequences to the parties
- The existence, effect, and duration of any domestic abuse committed by the other spouse, regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted for the domestic violence.
If a spouse is not at fault and has been a victim of domestic abuse committed during the marriage by the other spouse, the victimized spouse shall be awarded final periodic spousal support, or a lump sum payment, at the discretion of the court. In the case of domestic violence, the sum awarded as final periodic spousal support may be more than one third of the paying spouse’s net income. If domestic abuse is not present, the sun awarded may not be more than one third of the paying spouse’s net income.
Who is eligible to receive spousal support?
In Louisiana, in order to be eligible to receive spousal support you have to be free from fault, and earn less income than your spouse.
The three grounds for a fault-based divorce in Louisiana are: (1) your spouse committed adultery, (2) your spouse physically or sexually abused you or one of your children, or (3) your spouse was convicted of a felony and sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor. So long as you did not do one of these three things, you would be considered free from fault.
Being free from fault, in conjunction with less income than your spouse will make you eligible for spousal support.
How much spousal support will I receive?
It depends. There are no specific guidelines for spousal support in Louisiana. The court will look at expenses and incomes of the parties, including any already ordered payment for child support. The court has discretion in the calculation of spousal support.
Each party will need to provide the court with income statements showing their gross and adjusted gross income, along with documentation of past and present earnings. Copies of these documents will be provided to the other spouse as well. With this information, the court will make its determination of spousal support.
How does marital fault affect spousal support?
In Louisiana, marital fault occurs in one of three ways: (1) your spouse committed adultery, (2) your spouse physically or sexually abused you or one of your children, or (3) your spouse was convicted of a felony and sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor. By being at marital fault, that spouse become ineligible for spousal support.
What is abandonment?
In Louisiana, in order to constitute abandonment, a spouse must leave the domicile, without lawful cause, and with a constant refusal to return. While this does not constitute marital fault, this may affect the court’s determination of spousal support.
Are there any defenses to marital fault?
In regard to spousal support, the only “defense” to marital fault would be proving that you are not at fault. Additionally, if your spouse did not file for an at fault divorce, this may help your assertion of not being at fault.
If I remarry, will this affect my spousal support?
If you are receiving spousal support, and you remarry, your spousal support will be terminated. However, if you are paying spousal support and you remarry, you will still have your obligation in paying spousal support.
Will spousal support be enough income to live off?
Generally, no, spousal support will not be enough income to live off. Interim spousal support is generally a higher amount that final spousal support. For that reason, you may be able to live with no other income during the interim depending on your monthly expenses. However, since final spousal support (if awarded) will likely not be enough to live off, it is a good idea to begin or continue working during the interim to help maintain finances after the interim.
Will I have to work after my divorce?
In most cases, both spouses will need to work after their divorce. If you were the homemaker in your marriage, you will likely need to begin working since even if you are awarded interim and/or final spousal support since it generally is not enough income to live off. If you worked prior to your divorce, you will likely need to continue to work since your assets, including any retirement accounts, have been divided in half.
In some circumstances, if you and your spouse had a significant amount of assets, your portion of the community may be enough to live off (depending on your age and monthly expenses), without needing to begin or go back to work.
It may be beneficial to speak with a financial planner to determine if you can live off of your portion of the community assets.