Spousal support, commonly referred to as “alimony”, may be awarded during or after a divorce in Louisiana. Spousal support is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other, either during the divorce or for a period after the divorce. This article will help you understand how spousal support is calculated in Louisiana.
There are two types of spousal support that may be awarded by the court in Louisiana: interim spousal support and final spousal support. Interim spousal support is awarded during the pendency of a divorce and up to one hundred eighty days after the divorce. Final spousal support is awarded after a divorce.
INTERIM SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Louisiana Civil Code Art. 113 provides:
A. Upon motion of a party, the court may award a party interim spousal support based on the needs of that party, the ability of the other party to pay, any interim or final child support obligation, and the standard of living of the parties during the marriage. An award of interim spousal support shall terminate one hundred eighty days from the rendition of a judgment of divorce, except that the award may extend beyond one hundred eighty days but only for good cause shown.
B. An obligation to pay final periodic support shall not begin until an interim spousal support award has terminated.
To determine the amount of interim spousal support that may be awarded, the court will request each party fill out an Income and Expense Sheet to determine the cost of each party’s expenses relative to their income. You can find an Income and Expense Sheet used by most courts here (pp.18-21) and an Orleans Parish Income and Expense Sheet here. A party’s expenses are based on the standard of living during the marriage. If one spouse is unable to cover his/her expenses with his/her respective income, the court may award the other spouse to pay interim spousal support to help cover the difference if that spouse has the ability to pay.
FINAL SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Louisiana Civil Code Art. 112 provides:
A. When a spouse has not been at fault prior to the filing of a petition for divorce and is in need of support, that spouse may be awarded final periodic based on the needs of that party and the ability of the other party to pay support in accordance with Paragraph B of this Article.
B. The court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the amount and duration of final support, including:
(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 or a child of one of the spouses, regardless of whether the other spouse was prosecuted for the act of domestic violence.
C. When a spouse is awarded a judgment of divorce pursuant to Article 103(2), (3), (4), or (5), or when the court determines that a party or a child of one of the spouses was the victim of domestic abuse committed by the other party during the marriage, that spouse is presumed to be entitled to final periodic support.
D. The sum awarded under this Article shall not exceed one-third of the obligor’s net income. Nevertheless, when support is awarded after a judgment of divorce is rendered pursuant to Article 103(4) or (5), or when the court determines that a party or a child of one of the spouses was the victim of domestic abuse committed by the other party during the marriage, the sum awarded may exceed one-third of the obligor’s net income and may be awarded as a lump sum.
As you can see from the above law, a spouse must be free from fault in the breakup of the marriage to be awarded spousal support. This means that the claimant must be free from fault prior to the filing of the petition or divorce. “Fault” is considered: adultery, domestic violence, felony incarceration, or a protective order from abuse.
An award of final spousal support may be modified if the circumstances of either party materially change and shall become terminated if it has become unnecessary. The subsequent remarriage of the spouse ordered to pay spousal support is not considered a change of circumstance. However, an order of spousal support will terminate if the spouse receiving spousal support remarries, dies, or if the court determines that the spouse is living with another person in the manner of married persons.
The right to claim spousal support expires three years after the latest of the following:
- The day the judgment of divorce is signed.
- The day a judgment terminating a previous judgment of spousal support is signed, if the previous judgment was signed in an action commences either before the signing of the judgment of divorce or within three years thereafter.
- The day of the last payment made, when the spousal support obligation is initially performed by voluntary payment within the periods described in paragraph 1 or 2 and no more than three years has elapsed between payments.
If you have questions regarding spousal support, please contact our firm to discuss your case in more detail at 504-509-5000 or by scheduling an initial call.