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Alimony / Spousal Maintenance

Alimony / Spousal Maintenance

LOUISIANA ALIMONY OR SPOUSAL SUPPORT

Spousal support laws in Louisiana provide financial assistance to a spouse in order to preserve his or her accustomed standard of living as it existed during the marriage. Alimony payments are determined based on the lower income spouse’s need and balanced by the other spouse’s ability to pay.

The terms “alimony” and “spousal support” are interchangeable. They refer to the money the court orders one spouse to pay the other during and after a divorce proceeding. Spousal support will not apply to every divorce. The court will determine whether alimony is required on a case-by-case basis.

Spousal support is not intended as a punishment, rather, it must be viewed it as a remedy to support the lower-income spouse after the end of a marriage. Appropriate spousal support brings a balance between the economic statuses of both spouses, and eases the transition to living as a single person. Either party may be ordered to pay spousal support, it is completely gender-neutral and may be granted or denied based on a host of economic factors.

HOW ALIMONY IS DETERMINED?

The first questions our clients ask when we discuss spousal support pertain to 1. how much they will likely pay or receive; 2. how support is calculated; and 3. how long it will last. The answers are important, and we often take time in our first consult to answer each question individually. Our job as family law attorneys is to help clients understand these answers from a planning perspective as well as from the court’s point of view.
Spousal Support laws in Louisiana, and court decisions that interpret them, set the criteria for determining whether alimony is applicable to your case. The following factors are considered, and the judge will weigh some factors more than others in each specific case:

  1. The income and means of the parties, including the liquidity of such means.
  2. The financial obligations of the parties, including any interim allowance or final child support obligation.
  3. The earning capacity of the parties.
  4. The effect of custody of children upon a party’s earning capacity.
  5. The time necessary for the claimant to acquire appropriate education, training, or employment.
  6. The health and age of the parties.
  7. The duration of the marriage.
  8. The tax consequences to either or both parties.
  9. The existence, effect, and duration of any act of domestic abuse committed by the other spouse upon the claimant, regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted for the act of domestic violence.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT LAWS IN LOUISIANA; DISCRETION OF THE COURT

Other factors may influence the amount and duration of spousal support. A judge’s trends and tendencies in past decisions will provide a roadmap for likely outcomes, but each case is unique and even judges outgrow certain ideals.

It is important that you have an attorney who not only understands the complexities of Louisiana spousal support laws, but who can provide insight to the inclinations of the local hearing officers and trial judges. At our initial consult we will highlight these topics and apply them to your circumstances to help prepare your case and decide what makes sense for you.

LOUISIANA ALIMONY & SPOUSAL SUPPORT; THE BASICS

All else aside, if both spouses are gainfully employed and self-sufficient, spousal support will generally not be awarded unless there is a considerable disparity in their incomes. Unless the parties voluntarily agrees on spousal support, a judge, or initially a hearing officer, will decide if spousal support is necessary according the Louisiana spousal support laws. Spousal support is always based on the lower-income spouses need and the other spouses ability to pay.

In Louisiana, there are two types of spousal support: Interim and Permanent.

Interim spousal support is awarded at a fixed amount for the duration of the proceedings, and often up to six months after the final divorce is granted. The intent of interim support is to balance the status quo of the parties during the transition phase, and assure that the lower income spouse is able to keep some semblance of the lifestyle that existed during the marriage.

Permanent spousal support is spousal support that continues for the lifetime of the receiving spouse, or for a fixed period of time after interim support.

Permanent lifetime support is rarely awarded in Louisiana, but is awarded in deserving situations. It should only be awarded when one spouse is completely financially dependent on the other, and is unable to procure employment that would allow them to survive without assistance.
Louisiana alimony or spousal support is always rooted in equity and feasibility. It is meant to protect the lower income spouse from poverty, but it should not cause undue financial hardship to the paying spouse either.

Always remember that spousal support is separate from the division of community property and child support.

LOUISIANA SPOUSAL SUPPORT MODIFICATION

Spousal support in Louisiana is modifiable.

If you are paying or receiving spousal support per a Louisiana judgment and you have experienced a significant change in your circumstances, you can ask the court for a review and modification of the order. There are several changes in circumstances that a court may consider.

First, an economic change may result in a need to modify or extinguish your spousal support payments. An attorney should evaluate your situation and provide guidance about whether you qualify for a modification, and what you can expect the modified payments to be according to Louisiana spousal support guidelines.

Most divorce cases are resolved without trial, which means the parties eventually agree on an amount and term for spousal support. Spousal support payments by agreement may also by modifiable depending on the situation and language in your judgment.
If your spousal support is modifiable and you wish to change the payments, you must be able to prove there has been a material change in circumstances since the issuance of the judgment ordering support. Monthly spousal support payments can be increased or decreased accordingly.

Spousal support payments may also be totally extinguished by:

  • Remarriage of the recipient
  • Death of either party; or
  • A judicial determination that the receiving party has cohabitated with another person of either sex in the manner of married persons.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT

If you need legal advice concerning spousal support enforcement, call and schedule a consultation. Refusal to comply with or honor a judgment granting Louisiana spousal support is one of many problems that only the court can truly remedy.

If you believe the support you are paying or receiving should be modified, you should schedule a consult as soon as possible. Remember that the court can only make modifications retroactively to the date you file to seek one, so if a modification is appropriate, delaying will only cost you money.

In order to modify the amount of spousal support you are paying or receiving, you will need a family law attorney to obtain a modification to the support order. Give our law offices a call, Contact us today! 337-480-0101.

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