Spousal Support & Alimony
When the earning power between spouses is not equal—whether because one spouse has stayed home to raise children and is not presently in the workforce, or because one spouse has a higher paying job than the other—there is a need for continued financial assistance for one of the parties after a divorce.
In Louisiana, spousal support (alimony) generally falls into the areas of Temporary (interim) Support or Final (permanent) Support. These two types of support are very different. Temporary Support takes into account the amount necessary for the lower-earning spouse to maintain his or her lifestyle as it existed before the divorce. While fault is not an issue in Temporary Support, it does play a role in determining Final Support. If the lower-earning party is free from legal fault, Final Support can be awarded to meet certain basic needs if certain criteria are recognized and accepted by the judge.
How is alimony determined?
Alimony can be called by other names including, maintenance and interim or permanent spousal support. The issue of support is usually broken down into the following components:
a. Is there a need for a payment of alimony to a spouse?
b. If there is a need, can the other spouse afford to pay alimony?
c. How much should be ordered and for how long?
In Louisiana, interim or temporary spousal support can be based not only on the income but the lifestyle of the parties in the marriage. Income and financial means are carefully examined. If the spouse seeking alimony can demonstrate a need and the other party’s ability to pay, the Court is authorized to award a sum that it deems fit and proper under the circumstances. There is no magic formula. You should prepare very thoroughly and have all your receipts and expenses properly documented.
Once a divorce is rendered, the temporary support may stop if there is no pending claim for final or permanent spousal support. If there is a claim pending, the court may extend the temporary support for good cause. “Good Cause” is a nebulous term and basically means that a judge looks at each situation on its own merits and makes a judgment call.
Final periodic support [permanent alimony] is a different story. First, you have to show that you are free of legal fault in the breakup of the marriage. Legal fault, in general terms, is a series of serious mistakes or misconduct in the marriage that would form a basis for the divorce. This can be drug use, a deliberate failure to provide intimacy to the other partner, adultery, habitual intemperance, and other factors.
Alimony can take other forms. A court may order payments of certain expenses including mortgages, car notes, etc. These factors very from case to case.
Contact Branton Law Firm at (985) 807-1410 to schedule your free, confidential consultation with Charles Branton.