How are Spousal Support Payments Decided in Louisiana?
There are many questions and concerns that are brought up during a divorce. This includes, but is certainly not limited to:
- Who gets the house?
- How do we divide assets?
- If there are children, how is custody split?
- Does one person have to pay spousal support or alimony?
These questions will typically be addressed during a divorce proceeding and likely answered by an attorney.
When it comes to spousal support, there are many factors that go into granting one person support payments vs. the other. Generally, spousal support will be awarded when one party is going to be financially hurt or lose basic needs as a direct result of the divorce.
What is Spousal Support?
Financial support is a common concern when a couple separates or divorces. Transitioning from a two-income to a one-income household can be financially difficult. Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a payment made by one spouse to the other. It is intended to assist a spouse who did not work during the marriage or earns significantly less than the other spouse in meeting their financial obligations following the divorce.
The gender of spousal support is irrelevant. It refers to a spouse who has the means and resources to support the other spouse following a divorce. Instead of gender roles, spousal support is based on income and earning potential.
Types of Spousal Support in Louisiana
Spousal support could be granted during or after a divorce in this state, and awarded through a court order and instructs one spouse to financially support the other through spousal support payments.
In Louisiana, the court can award two types of spousal support: interim spousal support and final spousal support. Interim spousal support is awarded during the divorce proceedings and for up to 180 days after the divorce. Following a divorce, final spousal support is awarded.
Interim Spousal Support
According to Louisiana Civil Code Art. 113, upon motion of a party, the court may award interim spousal support based on
- That party’s needs
- Ability of the other party to pay
- Any temporary or final child support mandates
- The parties’ standard of living during the marriage.
An award of interim spousal support shall expire 180 day after a divorce judgment, except that the award may be extended for good cause shown if the needs of a spouse reasonably extend beyond the 180 days. In addition, the Louisiana code states that an obligation to pay final periodic support does not begin until an interim spousal support award is terminated.
The court will request that each party complete an Income and Expense Sheet to analyze each party’s expenses as they relate to their income to determine how much alimony should be paid in the interim until a final decision is made by the court.
Final Spouse Support
If a spouse was not at fault prior to the filing of a petition for divorce needs support from the other spouse, Louisiana Civil Code Art. 112 provides that the spouse may be awarded final periodic support. The final amount awarded will depend on the needs of the receiving spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay.
In addition, the court must consider all relevant factors when making a determination about the total amount of support to pay and for how long it should be paid. These factors can include income, financial obligations, outstanding debts, the duration of the marriage, the parties’ health, and their educational level.
To be eligible for spousal support, a spouse must be free from blame or fault in the dissolution of the marriage. This means that the complainant must not bare fault prior to filing the petition or divorce. Fault can occur in instances of domestic violence, felony incarceration, adultery, or a protective order from abuse.
A final spousal support award may be modified if either party’s circumstances change, and it may be terminated if it becomes unnecessary. However, spousal support orders will be terminated if the receiving spouse remarries, dies, or the court determines that the spouse is living with someone else and that relationship equates to marriage or a domestic partnership.
Deciding Factors for Spousal Support
Once the court has determined the person asking for spousal support was not at fault for the dissolution of the marriage, then they will begin to evaluate a series of other factors set out by the statute, including:
- Both party’s income and other financial means
- Financial obligations of the parties
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- Which parent has custodial responsibilities
- The length of spousal support
- Tax consequences
- Duration of the marriage
- The length of any education or vocation classes
- Will the asking spouse be seeking advanced education, training, or employment
The court will weigh all of these in its determination to award spousal support. There is one circumstance where spousal support will always be given to the asking party and that is when the asking party was abused or had a history of domestic violence by their spouse.
Spousal Support Allocation
Most Louisiana courts require paying spouses to pay spousal support on a regular basis via an income withholding order, much like a wage deduction order. Income withholding orders require the paying spouse’s employer to deduct and remit support payments to the court.
Periodic payments are made on a schedule given by the court, generally through biweekly, monthly, or semi-annual payments, and are limited to 30% of the net income. If the court finds evidence of domestic violence during the marriage, the judge can order that the final award exceed 30% and be paid in a lump sum. The judge has significant discretion concerning spousal maintenance payments in Arizona. Unlike child support, alimony is not required in each case of divorce or separation.
Hiring an Attorney to Help with Spousal Support Discussions
The grounds for divorce are frequently used to determine the type and amount of spousal support. An attorney can assist in demonstrating cause for the maximum percentage of spousal support for the nonpaying party. The lawyer can do this by collecting records to show all marital assets, including liabilities and debts. Please seek a qualified divorce attorney in Louisiana by calling at 504-780-8232 or contact us online.